The show, titled Good Grief, was originally scheduled to premiere Wednesday -- and then pushed back to early August -- on the Lifetime Network.
But then came last week's startling discovery that eight unattended bodies -- seven of them decomposing -- had been found inside the mortuary, which was followed by a flurry of accusations, denials and arrests.
"The program featuring the Johnson Family Mortuary has not and will not air on Lifetime,"
The show would have been an addition to a unique -- some might say morbid -- genre of funeral-themed reality television shows such as the Best Funeral Ever, which aired on the TLC Network and featured the staff at the
HBO was a trendsetter in funeral-themed programming with its long-running drama series, Six Feet Under, in the early 2000s.
The Johnson Family Mortuary show died as the family business, owned by
That same day, a defiant
"That's great advertising because in a few days from now we'll be on a reality show so I want all this media,"
Police have said that
The funeral home was already under state investigation and its license was due to expire at the end of the month.
According to arrest affidavits released Wednesday, after arriving at the funeral home at
--"The odor of decaying flesh could be smelled in the parking lot outside the building."
--"Insect infestation and fly pupa ... present on or near the corpses."
--The remains of two stillborn children.
--A body in a casket was infested with insects and "was mummified."
According to the affidavit,
But a detective wrote that the abuse was "retaining custody of and storing the human corpse in an unrefrigerated building instead of delivering the said human corpse for proper burial or cremation."
'Death has never been so lively'
Even with the funeral home closed and the show canceled, some TV websites such as The Futon Critic and TV Rage were still promoting the show, using a June news release from Liftetime Television:
"Take a step deep into the heart of
Critics of some of these shows have derided their premise, saying they trivialize death and dying, while other critics have opined that the shows are not reality television, because they emphasize tomfoolery to enhance their audience numbers.
Beckwith also has another television show called Ask the Undertaker, which is an effort to educate people about what they need to have in place before a loved one or family member dies. People have been conditioned to be sad and somber at funerals but that is not how things were always done, Beckwith said.
"There's no reason to mourn," Beckwith said. "This is a home-going celebration. These people are actually going to a better place. Somewhere, along the way, we picked up a different tradition."
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