After a disappointing 2.6 demo rating for a preview following the massive How I Met Your Mother finale (which had a 5.5 in the 8:30 half-hour), CBS' Friends with Better Lives held up OK in its first regularly-scheduled episode. It had a 1.8 rating, down 31% from the preview, but given the lead-in went down to a 2.3, it was a drop of just two tenths (or 11%) in True. Still, this was over 20% below the 2.3 from lead-in 2 Broke Girls, and it was the lowest-rated comedy on CBS Monday. It felt like a win compared to the seemingly massive rejection on preview night, but it was still not a great place to be.
The whole CBS lineup came down a bit in week two, and FWBL's drop did not stick out in the bigger picture. It was down just a tenth (or 6%), while surrounding comedies 2 Broke Girls (2.1) and Mike and Molly (1.9) each lost two. Still, it was the weak link among those three (and also finished behind the 9:30 repeat of The Big Bang Theory (1.9)).
I'll give FWBL credit; it's doing better than I expected after the preview, certainly better than previous meltdowns like Intelligence and Believe. Still, it doesn't look like FWBL has a serious case as one of the top six CBS comedies. But it may actually be the favorite as #7, ahead of The Crazy Ones and Bad Teacher.
So the real question here: will there be a returnee #7 next season? I'll elaborate on the Power Rankings going up shortly, but the main point is that having a returnee backup is a lot less essential with six returnees on the fall sked than it was with four last season. Bad development could swing it, but considering all these shows are a noticeable step below the top six, I say a seventh renewal is a below 50/50 proposition. Even if it is 50/50, and even if FWBL is the favorite within that tier, I don't think it's a 100% lock to be #7. That adds up to less than 50%, so Cancel.
"First Two Weeks" is an ongoing experiment to see how often a new scripted show's fate can be predicted by the very earliest data. Here are the picks and lineups for every show this season.