On April 18, it was announced that Castle star Stana Katic would not be returning for the show's ninth season. And it looks like Katic, who plays Detective Kate Beckett, was passed over for a contract renewal in favor of her male co-star, Nathan Fillion (who has made a statement wishing Katic well). Deadline's Nellie Andreeva reports, "I hear Katic was never approached to re-up her contract and was not offered an opportunity to continue on the show. Instead, I hear she, as well as Jones, [original cast member Tamala Jones is also not returning] were informed late last week that for budgetary reasons, they won’t be asked to come back for Season 9."
The Castle news comes less than two weeks after Sleepy Hollow killed off Abbie Mills (played by the under-appreciated Nicole Beharie), leaving her male lead to hold up the show if it returns for a fourth season. It looks like networks are valuing their male stars over their female talent, and that's not a smart move in today's TV landscape.
Shows have always struggled to find their footing after losing a lead. Superfans and casual viewers alike wonder how the series can continue without a figure they'd come to see as a constant. But if the last few TV seasons should have taught executives anything, it's that shows that lose their male leads can journey on, and those that lose their female leads are doomed.
After McDreamy was cut from Grey's Anatomy last season, some were concerned that the aging doc drama couldn't survive without the chemistry between Mer-Der. Yet the show is experiencing a kind of twelfth season renaissance, creating episodes that had even the biggest Grey's naysayers hooked. Meredith, a competent, powerful surgeon is surrounded almost completely with other talented female surgeons, and no one seems to really miss Mr. Ferry Boats at all. Likewise Law and Order: SVU looked, momentarily like a dead show walking when Elliot ( Christopher Meloni) left in 2011. And while the chemistry and banter between the two partners was missed, the show has gone on for more than 100 episodes post-Meloni, proving it was really Detective (actually, now Lieutenant ) Olivia Benson that kept viewers hooked.
And then there are the shows that have had to do without their female leads. Now in its seventh season, but the first without its star Nina Dobrev, The Vampire Diaries has limped along in more of a knotted mess than normal, even for a supernatural teen drama outgrowing its original school setting and beginning to contradict its own mythology. At least with Dobrev, the show had an emotional anchor. Left only with some eye candy, and a few female secondary characters trying valiantly to fill the void, rumors of actors dropping out and the show packing up for good are everywhere.
It's clear that Hollywood isn't an equal playing field for men and women. But if networks want their shows to succeed, they should find the budget to keep their female stars.