Is 'Devious Maids' coming back for a third season?

"Devious Maids," shot in Atlanta, returns for a second season April 20 on Lifetime. CREDIT: Lifetime

Combined ShapeCaption
"Devious Maids," shot in Atlanta, returns for a second season April 20 on Lifetime. CREDIT: Lifetime

Lifetime's soapy drama "Devious Maids" has its own behind-the-scenes drama: will the show live or die?

Two months have passed since the second season finale and the network has been mum about the show's future. But I hear that they are going to make a decision very soon and that indeed have to make a call before the end of the month.

"Devious Maids" shot the second season out of studios in Stone Mountain although the show itself is fictionally based in Los Angeles.

The show's ratings were down in its sophomore year with 3.1 million viewers, including DVR usage up to a week. Last year, the show drew 3.8 million.

That's not a horrible drop and the show arguably had tougher Sunday night competition in the spring and summer this time around.

But the show, created by "Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry originally for much bigger broadcast network ABC, is not a cheap production, even after moving to Georgia from Los Angeles for the 30 percent tax credits. With some big names like Grant Show, Ana Ortiz and Susan Lucci, the drama costs about $2.5 million per episode. The tax credits reduce that significantly but that's still pretty pricey for a basic cable network the size of Lifetime.

ABC Studios, the production company, is clearly in negotiations with Lifetime over costs and how to keep them manageable relative to ratings.

Lifetime last year cancelled "Drop Dead Diva" after four seasons but brought it back once the production company was willing to shave costs, which included cutting the shooting schedule by a day from eight to seven and trimming staff. The show lasted two more seasons. That show, based on its smaller cast and lighter star wattage, was certainly cheaper to produce than "Devious Maids." But I don't think the ratings near the end were appreciably worse than "Devious Maids."

(I don't have "Drop Dead Diva" DVR+7 ratings off hand but season six overnight ratings were about 1.4 million viewers vs. 1.8 million for "Devious Maids." Assuming its DVR improvement was comparable to "Devious," it probably averaged around 2.5 million viewers including DVR users.)