Ever since Netflix first entered the original programming landscape with House of Cards in 2013, the company has been very generous about greenlighting wild ideas for TV shows and renewing series with low ratings that had a certain fan following.
But in 2016, with the announcement that Bloodline’s third season would be its last, the streaming service platform seemed to finally be changing its approach to the original series it makes and/or distributes. Netflix was, at last, showing that it can look and act like a real television network and that low-rated series, critically disregarded TV shows, or expensive projects with a low return of investment would no longer get a free pass.
In 2017, several other cancellations followed – some obvious, others shocking – making it clear which are the shows that Netflix wants you to just forget about. In this current Golden Era of television where there is so much to watch, audiences have to be smart about their viewing time, and so do networks with their yearly budgets for original content. If a show is expensive and/or massively criticized by the media, it better bring back massive results, or it’ll be cut from the lineup to make room for other beloved tiny-but-mighty projects.
Whether you like it or not, these are the 15 TV Shows Netflix Wants You To Forget.
At one point, Sense8 was one the crown jewels of the Netflix lineup of original series. It was run by The Matrix’s big-shot duo of writers/directors – the Wachowskis – and was inclusive of all foreign, minority, and complex characters Netflix was trying to cater its services to.
But as other cheaper and better-received sci-fi properties came to Netflix – such as Stranger Things and The OA –, it seemed like Sense8 was losing its importance to the company and becoming an expensive passion project for the Wachowskis more than anything else.
The news that Sense8 would not be renewed became Netflix’s most shocking cancellation notice in 2017 (so far), angering fans around the world that felt like this was the network’s only show that truly represented them. As shows with such diverse ensembles like Orange Is The New Black still exist and so widely viewed, the argument for Netflix to keep Sense8 afloat for cultural reasons became much harder.
To please fans and give Sense8 a proper ending, Netflix announced that a two-hour finale special will be made.
14. IRON FIST
According to reports, it’s not like Iron Fist did terrible in ratings or was too expensive to make, but it was the first Netflix original series in partnership with Marvel Studios to receive such unanimously awful reviews.
After Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, Iron Fist was the last show before the television event-miniseries The Defenders, which will bring all four heroes together to fight crime. Since all the three preceding shows had done so well – both critically and commercially – for Netflix, it’s safe to say that the company is not keen on having audiences remembering Iron Fist as the hype for The Defenders is built up.
Also, out of the four Netflix/Marvel TV shows, Iron Fist is the only one currently without any news in regards to a second season. Daredevil’s third season, as well as Jessica Jones’ and Luke Cage’s second seasons, are set to air between 2018 and 2019.
13. THE GET DOWN
The most expensive TV show Netflix has ever produced did not bring back the results the network had hoped for. According to reports, The Get Down’s first season cost as much as $16 million per episode, but just like Sense8, it was not considered a unanimous runaway hit for the streaming platform.
The Get Down was created by Baz Luhrmann, known for his unique filmmaking style and a high-energy blend of music and movies – such as in The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge!, Romeo + Juliet, and Australia.
Though it was considered a gorgeous and important show, The Get Down failed to capture the sort of attention from the mainstream audience that would justify Netflix’s sizeable investment. For such an expensive show like that to work, it needs to make Game of Thrones numbers or capture the Emmy-grabbing critical attention that something like The Crown is poised to do.
Netflix had huge ambitions for Girlboss, a TV show that was based on Sophia Amoruso’s #Girlboss autobiographical book. It could’ve been the company’s very own Sex and the City of sorts, or even Girls, but with an “entrepreneurship” twist. At least a second season was definitely foreseen, as protagonist Sophia was just getting her feet wet with her fashion empire.
It didn’t happen. After just one season, the show did not gather huge ratings and wasn’t well-received enough for Netflix to keep it going. In fact, the network was very brutal in regards to its cancellation of Girlboss, and didn’t provide much explanation in comparison to the lengths it took to justify why Sense8 needed to be canceled.
11. MARCO POLO
Marco Polo was supposed to be Netflix’s Game of Thrones, or at least that’s what the streaming platform hoped. The series came in 2014, which means that it was one of the very first original shows Netflix made, and it was by far the most ambitious one at the time when it came out.
When Marco Polo was released, Netflix only had House of Cards, Hemlock Grove, and Orange Is The New Black going on– all great but small (and inexpensive) shows that hadn’t been plotted out for many seasons to come. Marco Polo, even at the time of its release, had huge ambitions to go on for many seasons and tell the stories of many characters during its run. Ironically, Orange Is The New Black became that show instead.
Two seasons later, Marco Polo became Netflix’s first major failure on a grand scale, costing the company $200 million – something Netflix is eager to forget.
It’s still quite unclear what Netflix’s intentions are with Frontier, and also where the show is going altogether. At times, it feels like an afterthought capitalizing on Brad Peyton’s success as a director and Jason Momoa’s hype as an actor (soon to be in Justice League and Aquaman). In other words: it seems like this series is more about Netflix being involved with these two talents than about being a great show on its own.
The proof? Well, even though Frontier premiered in 2016, not a lot of people are even aware that it exists. However, it was renewed for a second season despite its lack of audience and 43% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Though Marco Polo was Netflix’s first big public failure, it was Bloodline’s surprising cancellation in 2016 that set the tone for all the bold moves the company would make in 2017.
Bloodline fulfilled its duty during its first year: it was an Emmy darling that carried a lot of promise and was meant to give Netflix several major television awards during its run. But from the show’s second season and on, everything changed, and Bloodline became a boring project occupying space in Netflix’s lineup of original series. It was never an extremely popular show, and as it lost critical praise, there was just nothing left to see.
8. THE KILLING
The Killing made a huge splash during its first season on AMC. After failing to deliver an equally compelling second season, the show only moved forward with a third season because the network was able to negotiate with Netflix to co-produce the series. As that third season once again failed to meet expectations, Netflix took the reins for a fourth installment – which once again was disappointing.
After so many attempts from Netflix to make The Killing work, it seems like the company finally gave up on it and would prefer if the fans of the show could also forget about all of those efforts to follow up on the series’ great first season. After all, if you want a great crime drama, Netflix has Narcos now.
7. HEMLOCK GROVE
Based on the Brian McGreevy novel of the same name, Hemlock Grove was one of Netflix’s very first attempts at producing original shows. It had all the elements that made HBO’s True Blood so successful: small town, fantastical elements, horror, and suspense. It could’ve also been actress Famke Janssen’s first TV hit since Nip/Tuck, following up on her success in the original X-Men trilogy and 2008’s Taken.
After three seasons, however, Hemlock Grove just didn’t work out for Netflix or Famke Janssen. It failed to reach mainstream audiences and didn’t even necessarily become a cult hit. It was nominated for an Emmy, but for its theme music. In 2014, the streaming platform renewed the show for a third and final season to air in 2015, and there was no backing down from it.
6. HATERS BACK OFF
While the character of Miranda Sings is a huge success on YouTube, her comedic beat just didn’t seem to translate in the original Netflix show Haters Back Off. The company advertised the series quite a lot, sending the lead actress (who is the creator of the Miranda character) to major talk shows and highlighting the show in several marketing campaigns.
While Haters Back Off was indeed renewed for a second season, it seems like Netflix is a lot less enthusiastic about it, discouraging viewers from giving the show a try. The female-led absurdist comedy genre on Netflix already has two very strong projects: Lady Dynamite and Santa Clarita Diet, and it just seems like Haters Back Off has been losing its spot in the lineup. It wouldn’t be surprising if the show is not renewed to come back for a third year.
5. NETFLIX PRESENTS: THE CHARACTERS
The Characters was Netflix’s first attempt at producing a sketch show. The concept was actually really cool: eight comedians would each have a shot at writing one 30-minute episode and those eight episodes would air as a full season of the show.
However, The Characters did not work. Like Saturday Night Live has proven for the past decades, it’s hard to produce a sketch show that has multiple different ideas co-existing in the same project, and maybe it was too early for Netflix to handle that idea.
The Characters was a very cool experiment, but it was also quite a big failure for a company that has been doing so well with comedy series and stand-up specials. This is a project that Netflix undoubtedly just wants everyone to forget about.
4. RICHIE RICH
The sitcom Richie Rich was part of the commitment between Netflix and DreamWorks Animation to produce 300 hours of original programming between the two companies. It was loosely based on the comic book series of the same name, the story of a boy worth a trillion dollars.
Netflix certainly wanted to repeat the success achieved by 1994’s Richie Rich live-action adaptation starring Macauly Culkin, but while the series was renewed for a second season, it was a major disaster for the company’s efforts in developing sitcoms.
Though the value of Fuller House, The Ranch, and One Day At A Time is debatable, Richie Rich was just awful, and became a complete waste of money and time for both Netflix and DreamWorks, hindering this comic book franchise even further as well.
Though the show was set in Norway, its story was about Frank Tagliano, a former gangster from New York trying to build a new life. The protagonist drew many parallels with The Sopranos’ character Silvio Dante, furthering the notion that the Netflix series was evidently just trying to recapture what the HBO show had ended years before.
Lilyhammer did not work. It went on for three seasons simply because Netflix was just getting started in producing original content, and therefore needed to make a show in order to learn what would work and what wouldn’t. As new hits came to the company’s lineup, Lilyhammer became a distant and forgettable memory.
Pompidou was developed as an experimental 6-episode comedy series, a partnership between Netflix and BBC Two. It was run by actor Matt Lucas – who played Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland – and director Charlie Hanson. Like other successful British sitcoms of the past, the show was mostly all visual and without any significant dialogue – like Mr. Bean.
Maybe Pompidou was too weird and different, or maybe it just wasn’t good enough, but it ultimately didn’t work. The series aired on BBC Two between March and April of 2015, and then all episodes became available on Netflix. Both networks decided not to renew it for a second season, which is quite a rare thing for Netflix, a company that nearly always gives its shows at least a second year.
As of late, Netflix has been invested in producing several foreign TV series in partnership with local companies. Those efforts have yielded great projects such as Club de Cuervos and Ingobernable (from Mexico), 3% (from Brazil), and Marseilles (from France). Another one of these projects was Atelier, which Netflix produced in partnership with the Japanese network Fuji Television.
While Atelier had a lot of great elements that, on paper, would’ve made for a great show – fashion business, rich and beautiful people, Japanese drama – it didn’t reach the audience Netflix was hoping for, and became one of the very few foreign TV series that the company didn’t at least renew for a second season.
In partnership with Japan, Netflix is now focused on other projects, such as the comedy series Jimmy and the drama Good Morning Call.
Which of these Netflix shows do you want to forget? Are there any you actually love? Let us know in the comments!
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