E! Has Canceled ‘The Soup’ and TV is the Worse For It
Sad news for fans of Joel McHale and sharp takes on terrible television: E! has canceled The Soup, its weekly pop culture comedy series.
As if this wasn't enough of a bummer, it'll be over soon. The final episode will air December 18, according to Variety, so we've got just a few more weeks to spend with Joel, his crew, Mankini, Lou the dog, and a parade of awkwardly-inserted celebrity guest stars. The remaining shows will look back on highlights from episodes past. There's no explanation yet as to why they've shuttered the program, and Variety reports that longtime host McHale signed a deal last year that had him hosting through 2016.
To be fair, the show had a great run — 22 seasons, more than most shows have enjoyed. Its earlier incarnation, Talk Soup, debuted way back in 1991, with host Greg Kinnear poking fun at talk shows a year before MTV birthed reality TV as we know it with The Real World in 1992. Kinnear left to pursue acting in 1995, replaced by the (underrated, in my opinion) John Henson. Comedian and VH1 I Love the 70s/80s/90s talking head Hal Sparks took over briefly, before passing the baton to (the also very underrated) Aisha Tyler.
Tyler was the last Talk Soup host from 2001-2002. The series then went to its grave and two years later a new clip show was born, The Soup, with Joel McHale covering the growing crop of reality shows along with general TV oddities. For over a decade, McHale successfully toed the line between sarcastic and mean, and any notes of self satisfaction were tempered by The Soup's proudly no-frills production values. The show distinguished itself as the wisecracking, dressed down member of the E! family, often making fun of shows on its own network and stoking a mostly one-sided feud with E! crown jewel Ryan Seacrest (McHale teamed up with his golden doppelganger foe for some Ford Fusion ads in 2012).
As the TV lineup swelled with "unscripted" shows hinging on increasingly ridiculous concepts — Kid Nation, My 600 Pound Life, Dating Naked — The Soup just grew more relevant with each passing year. It's a smart, hilarious oasis of sanity in a desert of TV garbage (garbage-deserts are the worst kind of deserts).
Sure, we can examine the lunacy of the next Bachelor season among ourselves, and there's a host of podcasts offering their own brands of pop culture punditry these days. But The Soup team did it so damn well. As the western world approaches its Kardashian-Jenner saturation point, who will validate us with the funnier and more clever version of what we're thinking in our head? Who will keep us sane and entertained now?