Last Man on Earth Season 5

Last Man on the Bubble: Keep or Cut?

By mid-May, the broadcast networks must make some tough calls as to which series will return for the 2018-19 TV season, and which… won’t.

As that deadline draws near, TVLine is singling out a few “bubble” shows and sizing up their prospects — based in large part on their creative strides (…and stumbles) and future potential, but also with a requisite nod to cold, hard numbers.

Next up is a Fox comedy flirting with the end times.

THE SHOW | Fox’s Last Man on Earth (Season 4 airs Sundays at 9:30/8:30c)

THE CASE FOR KEEPING | The Will Forte-fronted Armageddon comedy manages to find new and clever ways to expand its desolate world, as evidenced by Kristen Wiig’s extended arc this fall as sinister socialite Pamela Brinton and, more recently, Fred Armisen’s recurring stint as cannibalistic serial killer Karl. And the core group’s dynamic continues to twist and bend and evolve (i.e. Gail and Erica’s romance, Todd becoming a father figure to Jasper, etc.). Ratings-wise, the series this season is averaging 2.24 million total viewers and a 0.9 demo rating, which may not sound like much but consider this: Last Man is right on par with its Season 3 average, and places ahead of fellow Fox sitcoms Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Mick.

THE CASE FOR CUTTING | The show just barely snagged a renewal last season with those ratings, and Fox now has Thursday Night Football in its side pocket (leaving fewer time slots to fill). And as we witnessed with Wiig’s stint, no amount of stunt casting is going to turn those numbers around. There’s also the little issue of the kids on the show. There are currently three of them. And while the little trio’s presence has not dramatically altered Last Man‘s vibe, they’re just one time jump away from entering the apocalyptic phase known as the Terrible Twos. And we would not be devastated to miss that.