The world sucks right now, and we all need an escape. Impastor, a TV Land sitcom, was one such escape for me, and it has now been canceled. Sigh.
Hold on. TV Land. What’s that?
Seriously? It’s an American cable station specializing in re-runs of old sitcoms. It also produces original shows because, fuck it, everyone has to make their own shows now.
Right, right, right…they’re the ones that made Hot in Cleveland.
Correct. Originally, their philosophy was to create new multi-camera shows starring sitcom veterans who were already known by TV Land viewers. So, you had Hot in Cleveland (hello again Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and Betty White), The Exes (hello again Kirsten Johnston), Kirstie (hello again Kirstie Alley), Retired at 35 (hello again George Segal) and Happily Divorced (hello again Fran Drescher). Then they actually moved into making slightly more progressive single-camera sitcoms like Jennifer Falls, Impastor, Younger, The Jim Gaffigan Show, Teachers and Lopez. The only one in the group to survive past two seasons and garner any real buzz has been Younger, a soapy fantasy about Sutton Foster pretending to be in her mid-20s to get a job in publishing and then falling into a love triangle with two gorgeous men on opposite ends of the age spectrum.
Which one was Impastor, exactly?
Michael Rosenbaum played a low-life who goes on the run due to gambling debts and ends up conning a small, mostly Lutheran town into believing he’s their newly hired gay pastor. The episodes normally entailed him dealing with the personal crises of the small council helping him run the church while also attempting to wiggle his way out of the noose tightening around his neck as enemies new and old circled in on him.
I see. And this was a good show?
Eh. It was comfort food TV, fun in a “how’s he going to get out of trouble this time?” kind of way, also sneakily addictive since almost every episode ended on a cliffhanger of some sort. Rosenbaum, whose character also narrated the show, perfectly played the comedy of the amoral criminal masquerading in the house of piousness. The show was always walking the fine line between pointing out the humor without overplaying it to the point that you could no longer accept that everyone was buying his act.
Him pretending to be gay wasn’t offensive at all?
Oh, they crossed the line a couple of times over the two seasons, but Rosenbaum’s character is presented as being such an idiot that you’re not meant to take him seriously when he, for example, uses crude terms to describe his gay sexual conquests. Everything about him is crude whereas everything about those around him is more prim and proper. Watching them react to him and the rationalizations they repeatedly make, e.g., telling themselves that their new pastor is just bringing their church more into the 21st century, was part of the fun.
Who exactly were these other characters?
The supporting cast consisted of Sara Rue (Less than Perfect) as Rosenbaum’s endearingly naïve and cheerful assistant, David Rasche as the fuddy-duddy, wealthy Church president trapped in a loveless marriage, Mircea Monroe (Episodes) as the gorgeous Church treasurer with a shady past of her own and Mike Kosinski as the gay Church secretary. Monroe and Kosinski both competed for Rosenbaum’s affections, the former convinced he wasn’t really gay. Meanwhile, Rue’s character gradually learned how to have more of a social life thanks to the advice of Rosenbaum, Monroe and Kosinski, and Rasche fell in love with a young woman in town who was actually a hooker and frequent customer of Rosenbaum’s, thus making her the only one to know his secret (at least the part about not really being gay).
Of this group, Rue particularly stood out as possibly the one purely innocent member of the gang, only learning to start questioning Rosenbaum’s character more as the show moved into its second season.
Did they at least get to wrap everything up?
Not at all. The second season finale dropped multiple cliffhangers on us, not always for the better as the rug was pulled out from under Rosenbaum and the audience on multiple fronts but not in ways the show had necessarily earned. Due to the cancellation, the final moment of the show will now be Rosenbaum stuck in another possible situation, the authorities seconds away and whatever plan he has to get out of it still formulating in his head.
Why did they cancel it?
The usual – ratings, or lack thereof. On top of that, TV Land already has 5 additional sitcoms in development as well as second seasons of Lopez and Teachers, which is a lot considering they only air their original shows one night a week. If they felt they could support two nights of original programming Impastor probably would not have been canceled. It made more fiscal sense for them to keep airing reruns of older shows than bring back one of their newer shows.
Where can I watch this?
The second season is currently on Hulu, although the recently aired final episode isn’t up yet since there’s been a two-week delay between the airing of the episodes and them going up on Hulu. The first season used to be on there as well, but not so much anymore (nor is it available to stream anywhere else). So, once the second season inevitably leaves Hulu the show will probably be but one of the many to live fast and die hard and then disappear in the age of peak TV.
Here’s what Rosenbaum said of the cancellation: “We loved our little show and I know many of you really enjoyed it. It was a good run and I’m grateful to have worked with an amazing group of people. I feel very blessed. Again, thanks for all the support. I hope to bother you by promoting my next projects as they come along. Much love to everyone and happy holidays.”