Television breaks up with Katherine Heigl for good

Katherine Heigl’s latest attempt at a comeback, Doubt—a legal drama on CBS—has been canceled after airing only two episodes. According to Variety, despite being “heavily promoted” and co-starring Emmy nominee Laverne Cox, ratings were abysmal, so the network pulled the plug in March and have confirmed there’ll be no retooling. Looks like not even icon of the 1960s and 70s Elliot Gould as the wise old man could save it!

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Did the show fail simply because it sounded too much like a hundred other shows, or is there something about Katherine? Here’s the trailer we didn’t make a prediction about back in the fall since it was a mid-season replacement, which was not exactly a vote of confidence from the network to begin with.

As you can see, it’s got a certain Shondaesque vibe without the zing. Or to put it bluntly, it’s a collection of cliches, tropes, and unbelievable situations missing the je ne sais quoi of being so over the top we’re pretty sure the writers and actors are in on the joke.

Fun fact: Heigl starting working as an “actress” when she was a teenager, with roles in several films that you probably never saw like the Romy and Michelle prequel, and some you did see like Bride of Chucky but you forgot she was in.

Even Chucky thought she was a diva.

Then Heigl got a lucky break and was cast as lingerie model-turned-doctor Izzie Stevens on Shonda Rhimes’s Gray’s Anatomy, a show that’s been on the air since time began and will probably end with Dr. Gray’s death at 95 and her reuniting in sexy-heaven with Dr. McDreamy. In a real-life surprise twist, Heigl won an Emmy for her portrayal of Izzie, but not understanding that there’s no “I” in team, she started complaining publicly about the quality of the scripts. By season six, Heigl stopped showing up for work. These are not moves that say plucky star we love. These are moves that say difficult to work with and maybe delusional.

Her history of sounding ungrateful to people who employed her continued when she knocked the portrayal of women in the first hit film people realized she was in, Knocked Up. While her next movie 27 Dresses did well and it looked like she was on her way to becoming the next Kate Hudson, the career didn’t quite go as planned and in 2012 she was reportedly asking Miss Rhimes if she could have her old job back just to “wrap up” Izzie’s storyline. Maybe she should have waited a few years until Rhimes wrote that book about saying “yes”, because her triumphant return never happened.

You may remember, although you probably don’t, that this isn’t Heigl’s first try at asking TV to take her back. In 2014, she starred as a CIA analyst in State of Affairs, a.k.a. Homeland for Dummies. It lasted a full 13 episodes, and the best thing about it was Alfre Woodard playing the President (which we would have watched had we known it was on).

Maybe they got the billing wrong.

So where does Katherine go now, what with getting fired by Shonda, two failed TV shows, and a string of completely forgettable films?

SVU is still on the air, and they could always use a new district attorney.

There have been comebacks by actresses known more for looks than talent, even after making lousy career choices, and passing their 38th birthday (that’s 65 in normal people years). Candice Bergen is a case in point. She found her forte in her forties in a situation comedy, but it took her not taking herself too seriously. There’s also Charlize Theron, who was tired of playing the girlfriend, so she deglamorized herself in Monster.

Worth it playing ugly to bring this bad boy home.

Here’s some unsolicited advice for Kate, if I may call her that (and I may): If you haven’t already said something nasty about CBS, or Doubt, please keep your trap shut! Not every thought must be verbalized. You actually seem like a nicer person in real life than you’ve been portrayed in the media. You’re kind to animals, have adopted children, and are a strong advocate for organ donation. Yay, you!

But every time you blame others for your bad career choices, you sound like a whiner, and nobody likes a whiner, especially one who looks like she won the genetic lottery and used to get millions of dollars for just showing up in a movie. Stop blaming the scripts, and take a look at yourself. It’s one thing to criticize Knocked Up for maybe not being so great in its portrayal of women, but who forced you to make it, or those other dumb rom-coms you were in after that? Don’t come back to television in a Shonda rip-off after ripping Shonda. Your big break was playing Izzie, a pretty girl who wanted to be taken seriously, and even went to medical school to prove herself. What have you actually done to prove yourself since picking up that Emmy? You keep making terrible movies and boring TV shows. If you think no one thinks you can act because you’re too beautiful, then play it plain, or show you can laugh at your own image. Otherwise, your shrinking audience just sees you as someone looking for a payday, and we’re done. It’s not us, it’s you.

Marion Stein

Marion writes television recaps and reviews for the Agony Booth, and books you can find over at Amazon.

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  • Derek Johns

    Let’s see, generating some goodwill off a couple well received roles and then coasting on that goodwill by collecting paychecks from one lazy rom-com after another until the audience caught on and had enough of it and now her career is basically a joke. I’d say she did end up being the next Kate Hudson.

  • NameWithheldByRequest

    The problem, as I see it, is that Heigl has never been very good in anything I’ve ever seen her in. Adequate? Sure. Good enough for a comeback? I don’t see how. She’s tried drama and romantic-comedy, and that hasn’t worked, so maybe she needs to branch out into a different genre. Or maybe she should take a supporting role or recurring guest role on a good show. Either way, I don’t see an audience clamoring to see her in anything…