‘True Lies’ Canceled by CBS after pay and budget impasse

In unfortunate news for fans of the series, CBS has canceled their freshman action comedy spy show True Lies reportedly due to a pay and budget impasse. True Lies stars Steve Howey as Harry Tasker and Ginger Gonzaga as his wife, Helen Tasker.  

The Show’s Premise

True Lies had an interesting story inspired by the James Cameron film. Tonally, there were a lot of similarities to NBC’s Chuck, although it never had quite the same heart. 

Pictured (L-R): Steve Howey as Harry Tasker and Ginger Gonzaga as Helen Tasker. Photo: Alan Markfield/CBS ©2021 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

In the show, Harry Tasker is a top-secret spy for Omega Sector. His wife, Helen, is an unfulfilled language professor and housewife who thinks he’s a dull computer salesman. The spark between the two, after years of marriage, is nearly dead. When Helen discovers Harry’s secret, she’s recruited to join his team of spies. Together, they travel the world on dangerous missions, all while keeping their secret from their kids. Along the way, Harry and Helen fall in love again and save the world. There are sidekicks and danger and a healthy dose of Q-level tech. 

The show also features Omar Miller as Gib, Erica Hernandez as Maria, and Mike O’Gorman as Luther, all Omega Sector Operatives. 

The CBS Strategy

The decision to cancel True Lies is not a total surprise. The show, a loose adaptation of the 1994 Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis film of the same name, never found an audience. Its premiere had a .032 in the 18-49 demographic, which is not good. The show ranked as the network’s lowest-rated scripted series of the season and never got better. The ratings have been steady, and to the ratings tea leaf readers, that means the same audience was likely watching the show week after week.  Still, ultimately not enough people watched to make a second season make outright sense to the CBS brass. 

According to Variety, part of the show’s cancellation had to do with the budget. CBS asked series studio Warner Brothers Television to make cuts, including to expected talent pay. When a show gets a second season, the cast typically gets a pay bump. CBS didn’t want the cast to get the bump, and thus they were at an impasse, and the show got the axe. 

CBS will announce its full 2023-2024 fall broadcast schedule on Wednesday. Of the four new series that CBS premiered this television year, two have been canceled, True Lies and East New York. 

The Series Finale of True Lies

True Lies will get a two-part series finale. According to a press release from CBS, part one is titled “Lying Truths” and has considerable family stakes for Harry and Helen. If you’ve watched the show, then you know their kids don’t know about their super secret job for the Omega Sector. 

“After a van full of computer software containing confidential information about Omega Sector operatives gets hijacked, the team enlists the help of Max, a teen hacker, to learn who is going after the agency. When Harry and Helen discover that Max is dating their daughter, Dana, their actions put the mission in jeopardy, on part one of the two-part first season finale of the CBS Original series.”

You can watch Part One of the True Lies series finale on May 17th on Paramount+ live or on CBS. 

Have you watched True Lies? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter @MoviesWeTexted.