It's been five months since Jenelle Evans was fired by MTV.
But since Teen Mom 2 was on hiatus at the time, we're only now finding out how the show will fare without its primary source of drama.
So far, it seems the answer is - not well. Not well at all.
According to The Ashley's Reality Roundup, ratings have been on the decline for years, but have taken a particularly sharp dive of late.
In fact, they've suffered their most significant drop yet in the first episodes of Season 9B ... a.k.a. the first episodes without Jenelle.
Can the show survive without its most infamous star? Will the numbers drop so low that MTV will be forced to try and win her back?
Even if that happened, does Jenelle have any interest in returning to the reality TV franchise that made her famous ... and infamous?
Here's what we know about the situation thus far:
The End of an Era
Yes, after nearly a decade on camera, three children and more ups and downs than we can even count, Jenelle Evans is no longer a Teen Mom 2 cast member. And it seems the show is already suffering without its most marketable star.
A Controversial Star
Jenelle was liked by many viewers, and even those who hated her loved to watch her. In fact, based on social media comments, it often felt as though the only thing preventing some viewers from fast-forwarding through Jenelle's scenes was the joy of "hate-watching."
The Nugget Incident
Over the years, producers put up with a LOT of unseemly behavior from the Carolina Hurricane over the years, but they finally drew the line when she defended her husband after he beat, shot, and killed her French bulldog puppy, Nugget.
Put Out to Pasture
Following that horrifying incident (and the ensuing CPS investigation that briefly cost Evans' custody of her kids), MTV executives basically did to Jenelle's career what David did to Nugget.
To the immense satisfaction of many viewers fed up with her nonsense, Jenelle was fired from the show that made her famous. And since David had already been canned by producers, the Evans-Eason era was officially at an end.
The Last Laugh?
Now, however, it seems that Teen Mom 2 and MTV might miss all those viewers who tuned in just to jeer at Jenelle - whether they loved her or loved to hate her.
According to a new report from The Ashley's Reality Roundup, TM2 ratings have dropped significantly in the early weeks of the show's first season without Evans.
Not Too Shabby
Teen Mom 2 was number three in the highly coveted 18-49 age demographic for all original cable telecasts last Tuesday night. As in the third-highest rated show in its demo and night.
On the Decline
While the show secured a relatively strong 0.40 share of its key demo, it came in with only 784,000 viewers, which is still a lot, but headed in the wrong direction from where producers expect.
The Wrong Trajectory
The series 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.
The Good Old Days
For context, that constitutes a MAJOR drop from the heyday of Teen Mom 2, when the show routinely pulled in well over a million viewers per episode.
The Jenelle Effect
But in order to determine how much of the recent decline can be attributed to the absence of Jenelle, we need to compare these latest numbers to the ratings from Season 9A, the last season to feature Ms. Evans.
Nail In the Coffin?
As stated earlier, Teen Mom 2 ratings have been slipping for years, but there's no denying that Season 9A enjoyed greater success. It premiered with 988,000 viewers and a .48 in demo ratings.
Several Factors In Play
Of course, those numbers declined as the season wore on, which makes it difficult to say how much this latest drop has to do with Jenelle, and how much of it is just the result of audience fatigue toward a very long-running show.
Still, there are some conclusions that can be drawn from this information: Teen Mom 2 has been in trouble for a while; firing Jenelle didn't help, and in fact, the move might have exacerbated the show's ongoing ratings crisis.
Doing What's Right
Of course, producers didn't fire Jenelle because they thought they could increase ratings by doing so. In fact, the decline in viewership is not unexpected. They did it because they felt they had no choice in light of recent events.
Even longtime Jenelle co-star and sometime rival Kailyn Lowry admitted after the firing that Evans was a popular figure, and that her absence would likely affect the show's ratings.
"I think that people did watch the show for Jenelle,” Lowry told celebrity news site 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,” she added.
She's Probably Right
In all likelihood, based on the strength of Kail, Chelsea Houska and Leah Messer, the show will be able to weather this storm and continue on for at least one more season.
The Farrah Factor
After all, it's not like the franchise hasn't been down this road before. In 2017, for example, Farrah Abraham was let go from Teen Mom OG after a series of bizarre incidents and becoming increasingly difficult to work with.
A Fond Farewell
Like Jenelle, Farrah was a cast member that viewers loved to hate, so there were mixed feelings about her departure, and her termination led to a dip in ratings.
But with the help of replacement cast members, the show and franchise persevered. Just this month, Teen Mom OG was renewed for a tenth season.
The Ashley's sources at MTV have assured her that despite the recent ratings dip, the network isn't about to fold up camp; MTV will almost certainly renew Teen Mom 2, as well.
So while the show may never again see the kind of ratings it enjoyed during Jenelle's reign of terror, producers really had no choice but to cut ties with Evans - and although stranger things have happened then a star once deemed radioactive returning to prime time, we doubt they're losing any sleep over the decision. Yet.