Reality TV producers often find themselves in the position of being forced to pull off a tricky balancing act:
They're tasked with creating a safe and productive work environment -- and yet, it's often they're most erratic, short-tempered, and even violent cast members who keep the whole operation afloat.
Teen Mom OG execs experienced this phenomenon first hand when ratings took a nosedive after Farrah Abraham was fired back in 2017.
The latest drama magnet to get the ax, of course, was Jenelle Evans, who was fired from Teen Mom 2 after spending a solid decade demonstrating why she never should have been hired in the first place.
There was a time when all the arrests, addictions, and abusive behavior actually made Evans an asset to the show, because ... well, as a society, we never really matured past our Jerry Springer phase.
Eventually, however, Jenelle took things too far.
You probably know the story:
Earlier this year, Evans' husband, David Eason, beat, shot and killed the family dog, an 11-pound puppy named Nugget.
Jenelle helped David cover up the crime, and an ensuing CPS investigation determined that her home was not a safe place for children to live.
MTV took action as well, finally determining that Jenelle was too much of a legal liability to remain on the cast.
Of course, her criminal insanity has made her a major draw from the very first episode of TM2, and there were concerns that her absence would create a drama vacuum.
So now that Season 9B is underway, has the lack of Jenelle been felt in the ratings department?
Well, as The Ashley's Reality Roundup reports today, the answer to that complex question is -- kind of.
Teen Mom 2 was number 3 in the highly coveted 18-49 age demographic for all original cable telecasts last Tuesday night.
While the show secured a .40 in sales demo ratings, it came in with only 784,000 viewers.
Obviously, that's a major drop from the series' heyday when it regularly pulled in more than 1 million viewers per episode.
But demo numbers are what really matters, and as long as you're pulling in a good-sized chunk of the young adult audience, as TM2 is, you'll always be attractive to advertisers.
However, that doesn't mean producers are sitting pretty.
Trajectory is important, and TM2 numbers have been slipping all season.
The show started Season 9B with 810,000 viewers and a .45 demo ratings score, but the following week, it slipped to 787,000 viewers and .41 in the demo ratings.
As for the Jenelle factor, there's no denying that Season 9A (the last to feature Evans) enjoyed greater success, with 988,000 viewers and a .48 in demo ratings.
But those numbers dipped as the season wore on, and there's no saying how much this latest fall has to do with Jenelle, and how much of it is just the result of fatigue over a very long-running show.
Of course, the drop is not unexpected.
Even longtime Jenelle rival Kailyn Lowry admitted that Evans' absence would likely affect the show's ratings.
"I think that people did watch the show for Jenelle,” Kail told TMZ in May. “I don’t think that can be denied.”
“I definitely think the rest of us have enough to keep the franchise going, and I hope that’s what happens,”
Fortunately, there's no cause for Kail and the other moms to be concerned.
Teen Mom OG was recently renewed for a tenth season, and The Ashley's sources tell her MTV is likely to follow suit with TM2.