Though NBC’s Katherine Heigl drama State of Affairs hasn’t been a ratings success, the series will swing for the fences during its season finale on Monday—ending with a cliffhanger rather than a sense of closure for those few viewers who have stuck by the show.
“It’s a very dark, ominous cliffhanger ending in this finale,” executive producer Joe Carnahan tells EW. “It certainly doesn’t wrap everything up. I felt that it was appropriate for the season to culminate in this way.”
The political thriller, which stars Heigl and Alfre Woodard, launched soft with 8.6 million viewers and a 2.2 rating among adults 18-49, which was down 37 percent from The Blacklist’s premiere in the slot earlier in the season. In its second week, it dropped a further 23 percent to a 1.7 rating and 5.4 million viewers. Though Affairs tends to rise a bit in the L+7 DVR numbers, its most recent outing drew a measly 4 million viewers and a 1.0.
“Listen, as disappointing as the ratings have been at times, what we maintained is the core audience. And that’s grown steadily in the DVR numbers,” Carnahan says. “If we’re simply looking at what Les Moonves is saying, that the Nielson system is essentially dead—which I believe—I think that unless you’re a show like Empire or The Blacklist, it’s a very suspect time.”
That core audience, Carnahan says, will help the series live on—even if that means moving it elsewhere. “For my money, this show has been judged so harshly and so unfairly,” he says. “The people that actually watch it really dig it, and realize it’s actually a really quality show. It is heady at times, it is intellectual at times. You’ve got to engage when you watch this show. Our feelings were that a show of this ilk, in the way that a show like Unforgettable has been handed around—I feel like if it doesn’t work for the powers that be at NBC, it doesn’t work for them. But that’s not to say the show won’t work elsewhere.”
“I don’t think a show like this goes away,” he continues. “If it doesn’t work on NBC, then it works somewhere else. I don’t believe that that’s all there is to the show. That’s my way of saying that I felt strongly enough about our prospects down the line that we thought, no, we can resolve this at another time.”
State of Affairs’ season finale airs Monday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.