Turns out Americans are more passionate about their Sunday night cable dramas than the story of the final hours of Jesus Christ.
Deadline reports that Fox’s semi-live musical The Passion suffered from low ratings, down 42 percent from January’s Grease Live, the network’s live musical debut.
Airing on Palm Sunday, The Passion — “hosted” and narrated by Tyler Perry — set the story of the Passion of Christ against contemporary pop hits from the likes of Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, and Imagine Dragons. Singers Jencarlos Canela and Chris Daughtry played Jesus and Judas, respectively, with Tricia Yearwood as Mary and Seal as Pontius Pilate. The production featured both pre-recorded musical numbers and live performances; in a setpiece carried over from the original Dutch production on which The Passion was based, a crowd carried a huge, illuminated cross through the streets of New Orleans.
While The Passion is clearly aimed at a more niche audience than the crowd-pleasing Grease Live, it was also steamrolled by The Walking Dead, a Sunday night ratings behemoth that hadn’t yet returned from its winter break when Grease Live aired in January. The Passion was also up against NBC’s new variety program/ 30 Rock parody series Little Big Shots, which is suddenly the most popular show on TV.