Netflix is canceling shows left and right this past week, and the latest casualty is Altered Carbon, which ran for two seasons (starring Joel Kinnaman and then Anthony Mackie) on the streaming giant. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the decision came down to the typical viewership vs cost-basis analysis, but since we don’t know what Netfilx’s viewership for anything really is, it’s hard to know what that threshold looks like in a larger sense. Netflix also recently canceled YA series The Society and I Am Not Okay with This, citing “circumstances created by the pandemic.”
As Variety reported last year, the streamer coasts along on a river of billions in debt to help fund its massive original series and movie output. Whether or not that’s sustainable is another question, but it certainly backs up why Netflix has reverted to something of an old broadcast network model. Despite its On Demand setup, if something doesn’t work right away, cut it.
Unlike a traditional broadcast model, Netflix produces (for now) entire seasons at once, so whereas a series on network TV could get canceled after a bad pilot or short run of episodes, Netflix series at least have one season in which to tell their tale. Silence on the futures of high-profile but also high-cost fantasy ventures like The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance and The Witcher can’t be ignored in this context. But as THR’s Chief TV Critic Dan Fienberg said on Twitter: “if you can’t afford to make SOME accommodations to continue (if not finish) telling stories like ‘The Society’ and ‘I Am Not Okay With This’ … Don’t START telling stories like ‘The Society’ and ‘I Am Not Okay With This.’”
Allison Keene is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For more television talk, pop culture chat and general japery, you can follow her @keeneTV
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