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Movies & TV

31st Oct 2023

Matthew Perry one season show that deserved to be bigger than Friends

Rory Cashin

Studio 60

It was named Best New Show in the year it was released… but it was still cancelled.

While is obvious that Matthew Perry will be forever remembered for his iconic role as Chandler Bing in Friends, there is another show in his CV that deserved to be just as big, if not even bigger.

Created by Aaron Sorkin, the guy who also created The West Wing, as well as writing the scripts for Moneyball and The Social Network, the cast alongside Perry included Bradley Whitford (Get Out), Amanda Peet (Dirty John) and Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story), and it was going out on NBC, the home of Friends.

Everything about Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip should’ve made it a slam dunk, but instead it was cancelled after just one season. The problem was that NBC had essentially greenlit two of the exact same shows at the exact same time, and only one of them could stay on the air…

The trailer for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

The first episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip debuted on 18 September 2006, and it details the relationship between a writer (Perry) and a producer (Whitford) who are asked to work together to save a struggling, Saturday Night Live-esque comedy show.

When the first episode aired – which Matthew Perry himself called one of the greatest first episodes ever – the critics were falling over themselves with praise, with many calling it one of the best new shows of the year:

Chicago Tribune – “Studio 60 is not just good, it has the potential to be a small-screen classic.”

The Hollywood Reporter – “With its intelligent dialogue, ironic humour, brilliant acting and inspired direction, Studio 60 lays claim to being the most exciting new show of the season.”

USA Today – “Teeming with rich characters and terrific actors, brimming with wit, drama and unexpected urgency, Studio 60 brings its workplace to full, immensely entertaining life.”

The problem was, on 11 October 2006, less than a month later, NBC debuted the first episode of another show. It detailed the relationship between a writer and an executive who are asked to work together to save a struggling, Saturday Night Live-esque comedy show.

Yep, 30 Rock aired within weeks of Sunset 60 on the Studio Strip, and while the Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin sit-com went on to become a smash hit and one of the greatest TV comedies of all time. An executive at NBC at the time made the comparison of Scrubs and ER not competing with each other in the audience’s eyes, but apparently audiences saw things differently.

When asked about the show, Perry said that by episode five (exactly around the time that 30 Rock debuted) they all knew they were in trouble, and by episode ten, they weren’t even on the air anymore, which completely hobbled the drive to continue making the show as good as it could be:

Matthew Perry on Studio 60 and its cancellation

While the 22nd and final episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip didn’t air until June 2007, NBC had confirmed that the show had been cancelled by May 2007.

Despite 30 Rock not being an immediate ratings smash, it was much cheaper to produce, so NBC could afford to keep it on its schedule. It would eventually run for 138 episodes across seven seasons.

And while Friends has rightfully taken its place among the most popular shows of all time, Matthew Perry’s cancelled show had the potential to not only be massively popular and very funny, but to bring in some of that behind-the-scenes juiciness that Sorkin so brilliantly delivered in his other projects… if only it had been given the proper amount of time to do it.

Unfortunately, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is unavailable to stream on any platform in Ireland and the UK, but the DVD of the season is available to purchase on Amazon Prime and other relative websites.

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