"Who Is America?" created a media blitz before a single episode aired as several of Cohen's targets realized they'd been duped and began attempting damage control. There was no voice louder than former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who wrote a lengthy op/ed on her Facebook page in July slamming Cohen, Showtime and everyone for "duping" her.
The public outcry only helped to boost interest and anticipation in the Palin segment, with fans waiting week after week to see if she appeared. By the time the show's first season wrapped in late August, it was apparent she wasn't going to appear.
In an interview with Deadline, Cohen even credited Palin as the sole promoter of the show, as he and the network had done virtually none. "Thanks to her, people knew that the show was coming," he said. "But ultimately, I looked at the footage and it just wasn't funny enough."
He called the realization as "upsetting" because he knew the public wanted to see it, and the network wanted it to air as well.
"For the pieces to be good, there has to be a good comic dynamic," he explained. "She was just delivering these kind of rote answers, as if she was doing a campaign speech. And even though I sat with her I think for about two-and-a-half hours, there was no comedy gold.
"I just didn't want to put out something that didn't really make me laugh."
So is he hard at work on new segments for a second season of "Who Is America?" Showtime certainly left the door open for more material, but Cohen sees one huge, insurmountable problem.
"It would be impossible," he summed it up. "We relied on the fact that no one was expecting me."
And while we can understand that it might be impossible for Cohen to try and dupe any prominent figure with any of the characters featured on "Who Is America?" why can't he just create more of them?
"I hadn't done anything undercover for over a decade and so nobody thought, 'Oh wait a minute, is this a Sacha Baron Cohen character?'" he explained. "That's the problem. You'd have to wait another 10 years to get away with it again, otherwise you'd have some very slim pickings.
"And no publicist worth his or her weight would allow an interview with anyone suspicious now."
It's disappointing, but it makes perfect sense. At the same time, saying very publicly that you won't be doing this anymore might be the perfect way to set up doing it all over again with new characters. If everyone believes that he's done with the series, they might let their guard down enough to let him get close enough to stir things up again.
Another possibility, which may be more challenging, is he could find other comedians who share his gift for embodying these characters so wholly and send them out into the world. People will be looking for a 6'3" white guy acting crazy, so maybe give them a totally different brand of crazy.