We've got good news for fans of the TV Land sitcom 'The Exes' tonight, although they may want to wait before getting too excited. While 'The Exes' being granted a fourth season renewal is definitely a positive development, the truncated episode order for Season 4 is a possible cause for alarm.
The still currently airing third season of 'The Exes' received a quite large (for basic cable) 20 episode order, presumably due to how happy TV Land was with the show's performance. Thus, when the network announced earlier that Season 4 would consist of a mere 12 installments, it gave me a great deal of pause.
'The Exes' is TV Land's no. 2 original scripted series, coming in behind only the Betty White fronted juggernaut known as 'Hot in Cleveland.' This would seem to make it a lock to continue for at least several more seasons. That is until you consider the following facts.
After a 10 episode debut season, 'Cleveland' was bumped up to a 22 episode second year, and hasn't drifted below that number since. Its future remains extremely bright. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 'Retired at 35' had its second season order reduced, then it was canceled. 'The Soul Man' recently had its third season order reduced to a meager eight episodes, and is widely speculated to be finished after that. In short, when TV Land asks for fewer episodes of a show, that usually means it's soon to be out the door.
All that said, there is one other possible explanation for 'The Exes' reduced order, although this is obviously just speculation at the moment. Female lead Kristen Johnston (formerly of '3rd Rock from the Sun' fame) was diagnosed late last year with a rare form of the autoimmune disease Lupus, which has (so-far) caused her to miss two episodes of Season 3. While Johnston has publicly stated that her prognosis is good, it's very possible that TV Land simply chose to give her a lighter workload this year.
Only time will tell which of the above scenarios is true, but fans can certainly take solace in the fact that they have at least one more season to look forward to.