The way the new channel is launching, though, is odd. The three transplanted shows all aired on Thursdays on FX, but will now launch on Wednesday, with “Always Sunny” and “The League” debuting directly opposite a new episode of FX’s own “The Bridge.” The idea is to move the comedies away from Thursday night NFL games, which dented their ratings a year ago, but viewers are already being inconvenienced by having to find the new channel (or finding alternate viewing methods if they don’t get FXX), and now they’re on a new night, and opposite another show from the FX family. As FXX expands, and as FX ads more original programming to replace the shows that have moved to the new channel, it’s inevitable for their shows to compete, in the same way TBS and TNT originals go against each other. But on the very first night?
Where TBS and TNT have a very clearly delineated comedy/drama split, what differentiates FX and FXX isn’t yet clear. The first three shows are comedies, but the goal is for FXX to have dramas as well, and for FX to keep some of its comedies. Landgraf and other FX executives have laid out the difference as a demographic one, with FXX skewing slightly younger than FX. But “Always Sunny” is a “young” show only relative to, say, “Louie,” as it’s entering its ninth season and more and more of the episodes are laced with jokes about how old the gang is getting and how much sadder their behavior is now than a decade ago.
FX can point to detailed demo numbers to say why some shows are moving and some are staying, but if you don’t have those numbers handy, it’s hard to say what defines one channel versus the other, and which show belongs where. “Archer,” with its Adult Swim style and creative team, would seem like a younger-skewing show headed for FXX, but its support among 18-49-year-olds is broad and strong enough that it’s staying put.
In time, this will all be cleared up. FXX will have a fuller schedule, and viewers will know exactly what’s staying and what’s moving, and what sort of originals to expect on each channel. (We’ll also know whether “Totally Biased” can sustain the schedule of a “Daily Show” or “Colbert Report” without burning itself out.) And the FX development team has such a strong track record over the last 11 years that they’ve more than earned the right to put on more shows, in more places. This first night, though, feels more like an empire staking out new territory and worrying later about how best to use it.
Read more at FX spin-off FXX debuts with Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League & Totally Biased