The Monarch is dead; short live the Monarch.
Which is to say: Deadline reports tonight that Fox has pulled the plug on Monarch, its recent effort to do for country music what Empire did for hip-hop. (And also, now that we think of it, exactly what Nashville already did for country music. Whoops!)
Instead, Monarch has ended after just a single season on the air, thus denying us any lingering familial drama. (Or incredibly bizarre real-world drama, in the case of Empire.) The series centered on the fictional Roman family, a legendary country music dynasty thrown into chaos after matriarch Dottie (Susan Sarandon, who featured prominently in the pilot before stepping back her involvement for reasons that will become apparent exactly one word after this parenthetical ends) dies. The series starred Trace Adkins as Dottie’s husband, a beloved country musician in his own right, and Anna Friel, Joshua Sasse, and Beth Ditto as the three Roman children, in various states of waywardness.
Fox tried, god bless ‘em: Monarch launched with a huge marketing push that included a large focus on the show’s country soundtrack, with Friel, Ditto, and Adkins singing lots of covers of beloved genre hits. (Adkins’ character also got his own real-life signature whiskey; bad news today for anyone who was a big drinker of “Truthteller 1839.”)
But at the end of the day, Monarch just didn’t have the juice. (Although it did have the “Juice”; Ditto did a cover of the Lizzo hit in the show’s third episode.) Ratings fell hard after the Sarandon-heavy first episode, and while they held steadyish from there, critics tore the show apart for, among other things, appearing to be a Susan Sarandon project with very little Sarandon in it.
Monarch was mostly notable, in fact, for its behind-the-scenes status: As the first show to be produced by Fox Entertainment Studios—the studio formed from the detritus of whatever Disney didn’t take when it bought most of Fox several years back—the show had a lot riding on it. And now, unfortunately, has appeared to take the whole load galloping right off a cliff.