During Deadline’s Emmy-season virtually screening of Drunk History, Derek Waters, the variety sketch show’s host and creator, broke the news that the series will not continue onto season 7, despite its renewal last year. Abandoning season 7, which had been in pre-production before the COVID-19 crisis, serves as just one of many shake-ups to Comedy Central’s line-up, leaving Awkwafina is Nora From Queens as its only remaining live action comedy.
According to UPROXX, no official reason was given by Waters, or his co-creator Jeremy Konner (Drunk History, Another Period), when breaking the news of the show’s cancellation during the virtual screening on Wednesday. While the A.V. Club speculates that “Drunk History appears to be yet another casualty of the COVID-19 lockdowns,” the virus-imposed shut-down might not be the entire reason for the show’s cancellation. It’s true that Drunk History costs the network more than it’s booze-soaked surface may convey, according to the A.V. Club, “each episode of the show required at least one, and usually several, expensive period recreations of historical settings, which made it a pricey prospect for a network facing a present pinch.” However, in light of recent changes at the network, this cancellation may indicate more than just a financial decision.
Deadline reported that Drunk History‘s cancellation is part of a concerted effort to rebrand Comedy Central as a hub of adult animation centered around its 23-season bread-winning comedy South Park. With Corporate coming to an end this summer and The Other Two and South Side moving to HBO Max, only Drunk History and Awkwafina is Nora From Queens remained on the network’s live-action line-up. Removing Drunk History’s slated 16-episode season 7 leaves room for the network to promote their upcoming reboots of Beavis and Butt-head, The Ren & Stimpy Show, and Daria, with spin-off Jodie.
The reasoning behind Drunk History’s unceremonious end can likely be contributed to a combination of the COVID-induced shutdowns imposed on season 7 and Comedy Central’s push towards adult animation.
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RIP @drunkhistory. Can’t say enough about how much I owe to @dw34 & @jeremykonner for including me on 6 seasons of this wonderful show. We were able to tell a couple hundred stories about lesser-known, under-appreciated or misunderstood figures from history, and to do it in hilarious fashion. Thanks to all our drunk storytellers for your passion to getting it 98% right. Thanks to our talented crew for your artistry and innovation. Thanks to my fellow ensemble members for your friendship and camaraderie. And thanks to our legendary guest stars, who included heroes and heroines of mine: past, present and future. Cheers.
The sudden nature of the news has led to an outpouring of heartfelt goodbyes from Drunk History alumni reenactors on social media. Comedian Craig Cackowski (Drunk History, Community) posted a black and white photo to Instagram of himself on set, saying “can’t say enough about how much I owe to [Waters] & [Konner] for including me on 6 seasons of this wonderful show. We were able to tell a couple hundred stories about lesser-known, under-appreciated or misunderstood figures from history, and to do it in hilarious fashion.” Performers Tim Baltz (Shrink, The Righteous Gemstones) and Bennie Arthur (Drunk History) took to Twitter with their farewells, both singing the praises of creators Waters and Konner, Baltz tweeting “you guys made incredible tv for a very long time and also created one of the loveliest work environments. It was an honor to learn from and have fun with you and the Drunk History family.”
Raising a glass to @derekwaterss and @jeremykonner tonight. You guys made incredible tv for a very long time and also created one of the loveliest work environments. It was an honor to learn from and have fun with you and the Drunk History family. https://t.co/QbjWk6M9SH
— Tim Baltz (@tim_baltz) August 20, 2020
I’m heartbroken by this but we made a very special show that I’m super proud that I got to be part of. @derekwaterss and @Jeremykonner are the best two bosses one could ask for. Thank you everything and for letting me be part of the Drunk History family. https://t.co/1FDZPCtGKZ
— Bennie Arthur (@benniearthur) August 20, 2020
Though pre-production came to a halt due to the Coronavirus, the Drunk History team continued to work on the series. Waters tweeted a photo in March, commenting “the Drunk History team is #AloneTogether and hard at work on the next season!” Variety reported that, upon the renewal of season 7, Waters “signed a first-look deal with Comedy Central” meaning that he “will continue to develop projects at the network.” Based on the network’s trajectory, Waters future project may be of the animated variety.
— Drunk History (@drunkhistory) March 18, 2020
Drunk History, which started as a web series on Waters’ YouTube channel and later Funny or Die, has been nominated in the Emmy’s Variety Sketch category every year since the category’s 2015 inception, via Deadline. The sixth and, unexpected, final season is nominated for three Emmys including Outstanding Costumes and Production Design for a Reality/Variety/Competition, a category which has scored the show an Emmy win in the past. According to Screen Rant, “ViacomCBS is reportedly campaigning harder than ever for the series” to win in its respective Emmy nominated categories, given that it’s the comedy’s final chance.