Producer: ABC pulled Welcome to the Neighborhood to appease Christian Narnia audiences; ABC exec: that’s “ludicrous”

The producer of ABC’s series Welcome to the Neighborhood is commenting publicly for the first time on the reason he thinks the series was cancelled before it ever aired, and he suggests that it has to do with the Chronicles of Narnia.

Bill Kennedy “said that the protests might have been most significant as a diversion that allowed the Walt Disney Company, ABC’s owner, to pre-empt a show that could have interfered with a much bigger enterprise: the courting of evangelical Christian audiences for ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,'” the New York Times reports.

And a Southern Baptist Convention official who was “involved in the negotiations with Disney last year to end the group’s boycott of the company” told the Times that, while he didn’t remember the series specifically, he said “that had the show been broadcast — particularly with an ending that showed Christians literally embracing their gay neighbors — it could have scuttled the Southern Baptists’ support for ‘Narnia.'” Another wingnut, a Focus on the Family official, tells the Times that “[i]t would have been a huge misstep for Disney to aggressively do things that would disenfranchise the very people they wanted to go see ‘Narnia.'”

An ABC spokesperson calls the Narnia Theory “ludicrous,” as did an ABC executive, who talked to TV Barn’s Aaron Barnhart as a follow-up to the Times story.
Barnhart posted MP3s of an interview with ABC’s entertainment chief, Steve McPherson, who says the Narnia Theory is “embarrassing.” So why didn’t it air? He says because of “the way the show was constructed, it had a fatal flaw, was that it didn’t necessarily get out the message in the way that it should because of the episodic nature.”

McPherson says Welcome to the Neighborhood is “not necessarily” dead, because it could be repackaged, but “it may be dead because these guys are such idiots.”

Television Cul-de-Sac Mystery: Why Was Reality Show Killed? [New York Times]
“Welcome to the Neighborhood”: Just show it [TV Barn]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.