It’s hard to imagine what our lives would look like without the dominant entertainment company that is Netflix. (“Hulu and chill” just doesn’t sound the same, admit it.) The streaming service has permanently changed the way we watch television, and has even introduced some shows of its own into the medium.
Netflix’s original content is famous for having some super high-quality shows in its lineup: series like Orange Is The New Black, Stranger Things, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt have all been both critical and fan favorites.
However, as Netflix has expanded its original offerings, it’s also had to start making some tough choices about which shows will end up on the chopping block. There’s just not enough money to fund every single Netflix show that’s been introduced so far.
Unfortunately for us, some of the quality shows that were canceled still had a lot of potential and unfinished storylines. On the other hand, there are plenty of shows renewed for new seasons that have started to overstay their welcome already. It’s hard not to wish that they had been canceled instead.
We’re taking a look at Netflix’s original television shows to count down the 7 Netflix Originals That Were Canceled Way Too Soon (And 8 That Need To Go).
15 Needs to go: Fuller House
Nostalgia has become a pretty big driving force in today’s entertainment. Eighties and nineties kids love to look back at the way things used to be, and now the millennial generation has the power to reboot literally everything... even things that didn’t need a reboot. Full House was a show that never needed a reboot in the first place.
The thing with nostalgia is that nostalgia alone can’t make a good TV show. You can only get excited about seeing the characters of your childhood all grown up for so long before you start looking for any semblance of an interesting plot.
Fuller House is hard to get through even for longtime fans of the show, and we have to wonder what stories are left to tell.
14 Canceled too soon: The Get Down
It might not seem intuitive to put together Baz Luhrmann, a director known for Romeo + Juliet and The Great Gatsby, and a story about the birth of hip-hop. However, after watching The Get Down, it feels like that choice was pretty inevitable.
Luhrmann's style is as extravagant as always, but it worked for this show. It was amazing to see the beginnings of hip-hop portrayed with the level of grandiosity it deserved -- plus an absolutely killer soundtrack.
Luhrmann’s extravagance might have been part of what got the show canceled, though. The first season reportedly cost around $120 million dollars to make. For reference, that’s $20 million more than Game of Thrones. We still can’t help but wish that Netflix would have just slashed the budget instead of canceling the show altogether.
13 Needs to go: Flaked
There are some things that even Will Arnett can't save. Flaked is one of them.
If you haven’t heard of it, it’s probably because it didn’t premiere to much fanfare. Arnett’s character Chip is an alcoholic who helps inspire people to stop drinking while sneaking drinks under the table himself. He’s also infatuated with a woman who his friend called dibs on, which is further complicated by the fact that Chip has a girlfriend. That’s pretty much the plot of season one.
Season two improved the show a little, but the characters still feel underdeveloped and a lot of the humor falls flat. If you’re looking to enjoy something from Arnett, you should probably just watch Bojack Horseman instead.
12 Canceled too soon: Bloodline
Bloodline’s first season was a great example of the potential this show had. Critical reception was consistently positive, and the show was similarly popular with audiences. Bloodline was both addicting and smart, and the writers really delivered on the Rayburn family’s twisted dynamics. The cast of solid actors was also a huge plus.
Although the second and third season weren’t received as well, it was still a boon for Netflix to have an Emmy-nominated thriller in their lineup. Bloodline was one of the first high-profile Netflix originals to be canceled.
Netflix has kept pretty quiet about the reasons for cancellation -- it could have been anything from budget to low viewer numbers -- but we can’t help but feel that rushing to end the show early contributed to the lower quality of season three.
11 Needs to go: Haters Back Off
The YouTube channel MirandaSings is consistently hilarious. Creator Colleen Ballinger sells her character’s over-the-top performances every single time, and has even taken her act on tour. Her ability to stay in character no matter what is seriously impressive, as is the fact that she managed to turn YouTube success into a deal with Netflix.
What works on YouTube doesn’t always work on Netflix, though. The show Haters Back Off!, which depicts what it would look like if MirandaSings were a real person, has some solidly funny and touching moments.
The problem is that Miranda’s character isn’t meant to be experienced for half an hour at a time. She’s written to be as tone deaf and annoying as possible, and that just doesn’t work across multiple seasons of a show.
10 Canceled too soon: Netflix Presents: The Characters
With the eight comedians who started off the show, the show wouldn’t have survived a second season. There were some great sketches, and each of the comedians had plenty of opportunities to shine. (Natasha Rothwell was definitely the overall standout.)
However, overall, the inconsistency did more harm than good. Audiences didn’t warm to it, and it was canceled after just one season.
The concept, though, was strong: give eight new comedians a budget and let them show off their skills. This could have easily continued as a vehicle to discover new talent and give them a platform to really show the world the kind of sketch comedy that they’re capable of. Comedy is hard to break into, and this could have been Netflix’s way of nurturing talent if the show hadn't been axed.
9 Needs to go: The Ranch
The Ranch is fine for a TV show you have on in the background while you do other things around your house. It’s also great for casual watching when you just want something easy instead of a drama or thriller that might stress you out instead of let you relax.
If you want humor that’s better than “okay” or a show that relies on something other than tired cliches about small town life, though, this is not the show for you.
It’s also hard to buy Ashton Kutcher as a washed up football player from the country when his accent slips every third line. There are plenty of sitcoms with bad jokes on network television already -- Netflix could easily let this one go.
8 Canceled too soon: W/ Bob & David
The fact that The Ranch is still on Netflix just adds to the insult of W/ Bob & David only getting one season on the streaming service. Fans of the nineties sketch comedy series Mr. Show were excited to hear that David Cross and Bob Odenkirk would be reuniting to create more content on Netflix.
Just four episodes and a special feels like being robbed. David Cross promised more content back in 2016, but as we close in on 2018, that sounds less promising.
It’s a shame, since the show was consistently funny -- what else would you expect from two comedians who helped to change the sketch comedy game? It doesn’t necessarily live up to the original, but it’s still better than a lot of the comedy shows still on Netflix.
7 Needs to go: Disjointed
Kathy Bates is too good for this show. While most audiences enjoy it, critics have given it a painful 21% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Then again, the divided response to the show shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s created by Chuck Lorre, who was also behind Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory -- two massively popular shows that critics hate.
It’s genuinely funny at first, but like some of the other Netflix shows that have somehow been allowed to persist, the jokes wear thin very, very quickly. A few promising character arcs aren’t explored, it can’t decide whether it’s funny or stupid, and overall the show leaves us wanting more... but not in a good way.
6 Canceled too soon: Marco Polo
Marco Polo was one of the first Netflix original TV shows. It was also one of the first to be canceled.
Most reviews are pretty critical of the slow plot, and the show’s cast got mixed reactions. On the one hand, Asian people are still vastly underrepresented on screen, and the Marco Polo cast was ninety percent Asian. On the other hand, the show followed the familiar white guy in Asia trope, just in medieval times.
It definitely wasn't a perfect show. However, the production was absolutely stunning, and the performances from actors like Benedict Wong and Tom Wu made up for the faults in the dialogue and plot. It would have been interesting to see what the show could have become if Netflix had just slashed its $90 million budget instead of cancelling it completely.
5 Needs to go: Friends From College
Before the show was made available, it seemed like there was no way it could misfire. The cast was incredible, the show’s creators had a history of hits, and the setup was perfect for a hilarious show.
Season one of Friends From College ended up being not bad, but not amazing, either. The structure and the plot leave a lot to be desired, and the cast ends up having to save a script that’s not doing them any favors. All of the characters are also completely unlikeable.
This can be pulled off if the writers know how to create sympathy for their unlikeable characters, but that didn’t really happen. If Netflix is looking to be more ruthless with its programming, it should cut the iffy shows instead of ones that have potential.
4 Canceled too soon: Lilyhammer
We’re bending the rules of an original a little bit here, since Lilyhammer was originally a Norwegian show before it was picked up by Netflix. Since it was promoted as the first exclusive Netflix content, though, we’re including it.
The three seasons we got of Lilyhammer, which followed a former New York gangster trying to start a new life in Norway, were consistently great. It looked beautiful, the writing was stellar, and Steven Van Zandt of Sopranos fame both wrote and starred in the show.
Unlike other originals that got the ax, where budget and audience concerns could justify cancellation, Lilyhammer seemed to be doing well on all fronts. It’s a shame that such a solid show was canceled so soon.
3 Needs to go: 13 Reasons Why
The first season of 13 Reasons Why broke streaming records, took over Twitter, and started a national conversation about teen suicide and mental health. It’s a powerful story that meant a lot to both teens and adults, despite the controversy that followed its release.
It’s a solid show, but it doesn’t need a season two. The first season of the show was based on a YA book of the same name by Jay Asher, and the plot of the novel was told over the course of season one.
The show’s story is over, too. Hannah’s said her piece. It’s hard to see how they can create a storyline for season two that seems natural and not like the fan service it is.
2 Canceled too soon: Sense8
The ambitious nature of Sense8 sometimes led to a few too many plot-holes, but it was still daring and creative television. It was also one of the most diverse sci-fi television shows ever.
Sense8 made an effort to be both racially diverse and inclusive of the LGBTQ community. People of color and queer people are already underrepresented in media, but they’re practically invisible in sci-fi. Sense8 turned that on its head.
When Netflix canceled it, the outrage from fans was so intense that Netflix agreed to option a two-hour special to resolve all of the plot-lines that were left hanging at the end of season 2.
That special will be great for closure, and it’s better than nothing. It also shows that the show was so popular that it probably shouldn’t have been canceled in the first place.
1 Needs to go: Iron Fist
Marvel started off its foray into streaming shows with successes like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Luke Cage was also a solid show, even though it suffered from some pacing issues. Those three shows together almost, almost make up for the travesty that was the first season of Iron Fist.
Before its release, the show was already dogged by critics who were skeptical of the show’s Eastern influences and Asian representation. Once it was out, even copious martial arts fight scenes couldn’t save the first season from flat acting, dragging plots, and overdone tropes.
With a measly 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this is definitely a miss for Marvel. Netflix should just let Danny hang out with the rest of the Defenders instead of letting him helm his own show.
Do you agree or disagree with our list? What other shows do you think Netflix canceled too soon or need the boot? Let us know in the comments!
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