Once upon the golden age of television, many networks and streaming channels made fantastic make-believe worlds come to life on the flat screens of living rooms worldwide. Together they warred in competitive harmony, vying for the most significant slice of the content pie. There was room for everyone in this prosperous kingdom that threw money at scripts sometimes before even an initial read. It was a beautiful bubble of storytelling opportunity. But it couldn’t last forever. One day a shadow would fall…
In the spring of 2022, Netflix announced that it had lost subscribers for the first time in 10 years. This surprising statement from the goliath led to a drop in stock that rippled out a wave of fear into the rest of the industry. An industry that had, until that point, ordered another whopping amount of shows for the year- 325 television series.
As the months passed, each of the networks and streaming hubs began green-lighting less, canceling more, and even un-greenlighting the shows they’d already promised another season. According to The New York Times:
“The number of adult scripted series ordered by TV networks and streaming companies aimed for U.S. audiences fell by 24 percent in the second half of this year, compared with the same period last year, according to Ampere Analysis, a research firm. Compared with 2019, it is a 40 percent drop.”
It’s equally surprising and predictable to see which shows were only given one circuit around the season Sun. 1899 (Netflix) had plans for at least two more seasons, American Gigolo (Showtime) was undoubtedly aiming for more than eight episodes, and Kindred (Hulu) indeed could have carried on in another year. Others that took the hit were: Vampire Academy (Peacock), Shantaram (Apple TV), Moonhaven (AMC+), and the heartfelt semi-anthology Netflix series The Midnight Club. The most eyebrow-raising of the bunch?- Hulu’s Reboot. What does it say about the golden age of television that the metaseries Reboot (Hulu) was canceled after one season? It’s like Netflix making a show called Blockbuster and then canceling it…
Then there were the lucky dogs that made it to the second round. On different ends of the HBO viewership, the Hugh Laurie sci-fi comedy Avenue 5 and the Gossip Girl reboot likely believed they’d make it further than two seasons. The same can be said with Amazon’s ambitious Carnival Row and the punchy Hunters led by Pacino. Apple+ seems one of the only platforms that aren’t responding with quite as heavy an axe. Like Amazon, most of their revenue is hosted in the tech category of their company, and in most years, this can act as a buoy in turbulent filming times. This last winter saw many layoffs and wallet pinching sweeping the tech sector, likely affecting Amazon’s streaming platform with added weight.
For those without tech empires, it’s a bit more simplistic. As Forbes mentioned last month, at least in terms of Netflix, deciding which shows stay and go seems to be made based on the completion rate. The completion rate refers to the rate of people who begin a show and see it through to the end. And be honest with yourself. How many shows have you picked up, left, intended to return to, and never did? Countless? It’s okay, you’re not alone! I say that our hearts can go out to the show, and still, we don’t have to spend the additional two work days’ worth of hours to get to the end of the season.
Some showrunners didn’t have the chance to get to the end of their season, either. These series hardly made it across the starting line- They were pitched, given the green light, and then abruptly turned around at the traffic jam at the intersection of budget cuts and overpopulation. Included in this group are a reboot of Degrassi from Netflix (which is maybe another sign that we’re going to take a breather from the reboots?), a new spooky series from The Vampire Diaries’ Julie Plec, and an FX on Hulu series version of Never Let Me Go. It was initially a book by Kazuo Ishiguro and later a 2010 movie with Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield. It would have been interesting to see how that fared in completion.
The fact of the matter seems to be that this trip down cancellation lane might have been in sight for a while now. It feels like only yesterday that Facebook and Youtube were planning to enter the scripted streaming arena, but it is too late to be of any significant success. They are now attempting to make for the exit ramp. We might see another turn for movies instead, which can be cheaper to produce than big-budget scripted television over the long run. Or why not the creme de la creme of content- the limited series?
One of the many perks of a limited series is that no one can cancel you. It’s a get-in-get-out operation. There are no hard feelings if there’s no extension to more because no one expected anything more from the start. Does it need an addition? Make it a part two. It’ll just be icing on the unexpected layer cake.
In TV, this icing can get carried away with itself. Have you ever been scrolling through a streaming home page and stopped on an option in wonderment of ‘What is this, and how is it five seasons in?’ Who has been watching this for five years and in such droves that of all the shows you know that have gotten the axe, this slippery *Miami Undead is still going strong. (*Show has been made up to avoid offending a die-hard tv show fan.) If you like the title, it’s yours for the taking… and holding. According to the NYT, many Hollywood insiders advise their clients not to push to sell any of their shows and to wait out the drought for the TV sprinkler to turn back on.
If you are facing the breakup of your favorite show, fret not. There will be, and already are, plenty of viewing options already on the horizon. But if you need to take the time to greave now, please do.
How to Get Over a Break Up (With Your Favorite TV Show)
- Step 1: Talk about it. Any chance you get, vent it out over dinner with extended family, in work Slack, while making new friends at the bar after a few drinks- insist that they have to see it while divulging too many plot details to keep it interesting. However, make them so afraid of your insistence that the next time they sit down on the couch with their remote, they’ll feel your spirit sitting next to them, pressuring them to make the right decision.
- Step 2: Kid yourself that they will watch Miami Undead and pat yourself on the back for really broadening the minds around you with your excellent pop culture recommendations.
- Step 3: Check back with these people so that they can assure you that while no, they still haven’t watched it, they’re really, really going to.
- Step 4: Wallow in the loneliness of being someone with superior pop culture taste that no one understands.
- Step 5: Finally, drum up the courage to say, ‘I’m ready to let someone new into my life,’ and check out the suggestion tab of ‘If you liked this, you might also like it.’ Friends have already suggested things for you in person, but you have superior pop culture taste and can not be bothered with plebeian choices.
- Examine the buffet of streaming services ‘you might like with a grain of salt. Likely only one will be related to your previous selection, and the rest will be a hodgepodge of era and genre shuffling that are pleasant thoughts but not the vibe.
- Step 6: Give up on finding a creme de la creme scripted series and make reality cooking shows your new lifestyle.
Fitzgerald, T. (2023, February 17). Paramount+ adds an industry-best 9.9 million subscribers, crediting ‘Yellowstone’ and ‘maverick’. Forbes. Retrieved February 20, 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/tonifitzgerald/2023/02/16/yellowstone-effect-paramount-adds-an-industry-best-99-million/?sh=13d063384bd9
Kimball, T. (2023, February 20). 104 ending or cancelled TV shows for the 2022-23 season. TV Series Finale. Retrieved February 20, 2023, from https://tvseriesfinale.com/tv-show/ending-or-cancelled-tv-shows-for-the-2022-23-season/
Koblin, J. (2022, December 18). Streaming’s golden age is suddenly dimming. The New York Times. Retrieved February 20, 2023, from https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/18/business/media/streaming-tv-shows-canceled.html#:~:text=The%20number%20of%20adult%20scripted,is%20a%2040%20percent%20drop.
Spangler, T. (2019, December 18). Why YouTube and Facebook aren’t fighting the Hot War for Subscription Video. Variety. Retrieved February 20, 2023, from https://variety.com/2019/digital/features/youtube-facebook-ad-supported-video-originals-strategy-1203440823/