Delay of FOX Country Music Drama “Monarch” is a Big Deal

Wow.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, and especially if you’ve spent any time interfacing with the NFL on FOX over the last few months, you know just how energized the TV network has been about their new country music drama series Monarch, which was set to air its premier episode on January 30th, right after the NFC championship game on the network.

This is commonly how TV networks set up their new year of programming—they piggy back off the popularity of the NFL, and especially the playoffs, to launch new shows. Everything was in place, and an incessant barrage of promotions and appearances for the show starring Trace Adkins and Susan Sarandon had been delivered over the last few months. Adkins had even released a new version of Hank Jr.’s “Country Boy Can Survive,” and Caitlin Smith released the theme song for the series called “The Card You Gamble” just last week. Every stop was pulled out to make Monarch the linchpin for FOX’s 2022 television lineup.

And now, it’s all for naught, or at least not for another eight months.

“Unfortunately, due to the unavoidable realities of the pandemic and the profound impact COVID-19 continues to have on our industry and around the world, it is necessary to reschedule Monarch’s Jan. 30 debut to the fall,” FOX said in a statement. “As the cornerstone of Fox’s new 2022-23 slate, shifting a show of this magnitude allows us to have its entire first season produced, create additional, high-profile content and promotional windows to support launch, and give our viewers the best opportunity to enjoy the series as intended with a non-compromised run of episodes.”

According to folks who follow TV schedules and such, this development is beyond shocking, even if understandable due to the recent rise of COVID cases that assuredly contributed to production delays. Nonetheless, it leaves FOX without its signature 2022 show until later in the year, and the country music implications could be significant as well.

Though it’s hard to gauge what kind of impact the airing of Monarch would have resulted in for country music at large since we don’t know what direction the show will take, the ABC (the CMT) show Nashville that ran from 2012 to 2018 could be a good indicator. Though certain artists featured on the show did see a sizable boost (Charles Esten is now a Grand Ole Opry regular), Nashville didn’t feel like a moment where a rising tide raised all boats. The Paramount series Yellowstone, which has become one of the most popular shows on all of television, did seem to have a significant impact, especially for the independent country artists the show’s soundtrack predominately features.

Whatever the impact of Monarch is, it will still be felt, just eight months from now, and without the slingshot of the NFL, and maybe after the public is wary of what now will be a second season of promotion leading up to the series.

Monarch stars Susan Sarandon as the ailing “Queen of Country Music” Dottie Cantrell Roman, Trace Adkins as her husband Albie, and British actress Anna Friel as Nicolette “Nicky” Roman, who is the heiress to what is characterized as the “First Family of Country Music.”

Sold as a “Texas-sized, multigenerational musical drama about a family synonymous with authenticity,” there is some big family secret behind their success that must be protected at all costs, including with (don don don!) murder. The Romans apparently live in Austin, but spend ample time in Nashville tending to the family business, while much of the series itself is being filmed in Atlanta.

No specific word on when the series will premier now, but it’s not expected before the fall.

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