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What we know about why Netflix cancels certain shows & lets others go on is very limited. Why did Netflix cancel 'The Society' and more?

‘The Society’: All the cancelled Netflix shows that deserve a second chance

What we know about why Netflix cancels certain shows & lets others go on is very limited, thanks to the streaming giant’s secrecy around numbers. We don’t have hard data to work this out, but Netflix executives have, time & again, alluded to commercial justifications for why they decide to keep or ax a show. 

What hurts the fans as well as creators the most is that often shows get canceled before they’re able to either a) get under the skin of the audience or b) allowed to finish telling the story they were so thrilled about sharing. 

Schitt’s Creek’s creator Daniel Levy tweeted this when the show won a string of Emmys for its last season, “A gentle reminder that TV shows need time and space to lay the foundation, to develop, and to grow. In the wrong hands, this show would have been yanked off the air in Season 1 for ‘underperforming.” We have no doubt he was referring to Netflix’s indiscriminate axing of brilliant shows. 

One of the recent eliminations, Tuca & Bertie, is thankfully getting another life with Adult Swim picking it up for a second season. When Netflix canceled it, Lisa Hanawalt, the creator of the animated series, shared, “And the show is still being discovered by new fans every day! None of this makes a difference to an algorithm, but it’s important to me and the way I want to continue making art in this world.”

She had added, “Thank you to everyone who loves and supports T&B, and to everyone who was comforted and felt like this show gave you a voice. I’m hopeful we can find a home for Tuca & Bertie to continue their adventures.” And then they did. Not all shows run into the same luck, however. 

TV cancelations are nothing new, either. Neither are the heartbreaking reactions of fans, cast, or crew. Remember when Brooklyn Nine-Nine was canceled by Fox, then picked up for its fifth season by NBC after fans lost it on the internet? That was a wild 24 hours, as the cast & creators have shared on many panels since. But for Netflix, the stakes have always been higher. 

As a streaming giant, it commissions a number of shows every year & certainly seems to have the budget for experimentation. But it keeps canceling the shows that have so much potential. From the audience’s perspective, most Netflix original shows start getting popular only after a little while: first, they appeal to a niche audience & then suddenly have a moment of viral fame when everyone’s tweeting about them.

In the absence of any other numbers to crunch, that’s how we figure if shows make commercial sense to Netflix. Many canceled shows were much beloved by the audience — irrespective of the size of this audience — and certainly deserve a second chance. 

One Day At A Time

Inspired by the eponymous 1975 series by Norman Lear, One Day At A Time follows the life of Penelope, played by Justina Machado & her Cuban-American family. The show has been a heartwarming respite from the drama of other family sitcoms. 

But Netflix didn’t consider the qualitative impact of the show when they canceled it, “We’ve made the very difficult decision not to renew One Day at a Time for the fourth season. The choice did not come easily — we spent several weeks trying to find a way to make another season work but in the end simply not enough people watched to justify another season.”

The Society

According to Netflix, this one fell prey to the pandemic restrictions. The Society is a mystery drama based in West Ham, Conn. It follows a group of school students who return from a school trip & realize that the other residents of the town have disappeared & they’re unable to leave. So now it’s up to them to build a society. 

If we could have teenage ambition & a clean slate, what would we want the rules of the new order to be? There will still be young loves, rocky friendships, and the adolescent quandary of fitting in. The cancelation of The Society was a shocker because initially, the second season was on the cards. After all, the season finale ended on a cliffhanger. Guess we’ll never know. 

Both The Society and I Am Not Okay With This were well received by critics & the audiences alike. Both of them were axed at the same time for the same reasons: budgetary & logistical issues in the face of the pandemic.

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj

The pandemic certainly wasn’t a reason for the cancelation of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, a daring & unprecedented format. Comedian Hasan Minhaj came on his own in his fact-driven, data-drive, and science-driven investigation & analysis of our cultural & political landscape. 

If you want proof of the impact he was making with the show, consider this: in an episode, Minhaj shared criticized the Saudi government over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Netflix had to take off that episode from its platform in Saudi Arabia over the government’s claims that it went against their cybercrime laws.

Hasan tweeted out in response, “Clearly, the best way to stop people from watching something is to ban it, make it trend online, and then leave it up on YouTube.” 

The OA

The sci-fi collaboration between Brit Marling & Zal Batmanglij was seemingly too mind-boggling for Netflix audiences, but the audience ratings not mind-boggling enough for Netflix executives. A lot was happening in The OA. A woman who used to be blind comes in contact with telepathic octopuses, talking trees . . . the weirdness had no bounds. Netflix still pulled the plug on the show after two seasons.

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