News & Politics

Netflix Cancels 'The Break with Michelle Wolf'

Taking a "Break" (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

Hard to believe, I know, but Netflix has canned the supremely unfunny Michelle Wolf’s “comedy” show after a brief run:

Well, that was fast. On Friday, Netflix quietly pulled the plug on The Break with Michelle Wolf, one of the only “late-night” shows on “television” hosted by a female comedian, just three months after it premiered.

The streaming service also ended the short-lived Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale, but it was the news about Wolf’s show that came as a much bigger shock. That’s because, when The Break premiered in May, Wolf was riding higher than pretty much any other comedian in the country after her breakthrough performance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. As recently as last week White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was still talking about how much her jokes stung.

“Stung.” Right. “Jokes.” Right.

At the time, the general consensus was that she was suddenly a hot commodity and Netflix was lucky to have her after she decided to leave first Late Night with Seth Meyers and then The Daily Show. Now, after just 10 episodes, Netflix has decided not to order any more.

Looks like “consensus” wasn’t that “general” after all. But the Daily Beast blames you-know-who:

“None of us can believe how classlessly Netflix has handled this,” a source connected to the show told The Daily Beast after the news broke, noting that the entire writing staff and even the showrunners found out they had been fired on Twitter.

The utter opacity of Netflix’s model makes it impossible to know how many people were watching The Break on a weekly basis, but the show’s cultural impact could be felt on a near-weekly basis. Wolf is an expert at outraging conservatives—perhaps something Netflix was less-than-thrilled about—from her “God bless abortions” segment over the 4th of July to her commercial parody that equated ICE to ISIS a couple of weeks later.

The later segment made heads explode on Fox News, including comedy aficionado Mike Huckabee, who declared, “You know, comedians are supposed to be funny, they’re supposed to make us laugh. I love satire, it’s one of my favorite forms of comedy, but her form of comedy is not satire, it’s angry, bitter hate.”

Actual TV critics begged to differ, including The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Feinberg, who tweeted on Friday, “Bad move here, Netflix. Michelle Wolf’s show was extremely promising. It wasn’t flawless, but its voice was growing and evolving and it made me laugh hard each episode. This hardly seems like enough time to give a show to find itself and find an audience.”

After the show’s premiere, Slate’s Willa Paskin heralded Wolf’s “willingness to be vicious.” That particular quality is what made Wolf’s correspondents’ dinner speech such a huge moment in the world of political comedy.

Wolf’s nasty 20-minute appearance earlier this year at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner endeared her to the press and the #resistance (but I repeat myself). In case you’d like a taste of her sheer awfulness, here it is. It will only take you three minutes and fifteen seconds to get to the first pussy joke:

To this “comedy” has sunk. No longer a series of setups and punchlines, it’s descended into a bitter stream of coprolalia, directed in frustration at the current president and his administration, and at the benighted American people who elected him via the incredibly undemocratic means of the Electoral College.

Wolf, whose HBO special Nice Lady was recently nominated for an Emmy Award, will almost certainly land on her feet somewhere. But the fact that Netflix didn’t give her more of a chance, especially given its massive content budget and general willingness to renew mediocre shows, is a shame.

With Netflix’s “late-night” experiment still in turmoil, the platform is now gearing up for the premiere in October of Patriot Act with yet another former Daily Show correspondent, Hasan Minhaj. He may not be a woman, but at least he’s not another white guy.

They don’t even try to hide their hatred any more. Which is why, come to think of it, Michelle Wolf is now out of a job.