Much to the disappointment of fans, Netflix has canceled zombie comedy series Santa Clarita Diet after three seasons. The decision appears to be the result of Netflix trimming existing shows as it adds more new titles to its collection of original content, and also the fact that Netflix shows get more expensive for the streaming service to produce with each new season.
Santa Clarita Diet isn't the only show on the chopping block this year. Family sitcom One Day At a Time was also canceled after three seasons, Friends From College was canceled after just two seasons, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ended after four seasons. Meanwhile, A Series of Unfortunate Events also came to an end after season 3 - though that was planned, since the show's three seasons covered all of the events of the book series upon which it's based.
The reason for Santa Clarita Diet's cancelation, according to Deadline, is that the show had gotten too expensive for Netflix due to the streaming service's "cost-plus" model of funding original content. This means that Netflix pays only a portion of the production costs upfront plus a premium of 30%, followed by bonus payments that increase with each season. From season 4 onwards the costs truly start to escalate - potentially up to millions of dollars in bonuses - so the longer a show goes on, the more it expensive it is for Netflix. Mega-successful shows like Stranger Things and BoJack Horseman will likely be safe at Netflix for the foreseeable future, but anything with middling or niche popularity is fair game for cancelation.
Santa Clarita Diet stars Drew Barrymore as Sheila Hammond, a realtor who one day turns into a zombie with a powerful hunger for human flesh. Her husband, Joel (Timothy Olyphant), is naturally perturbed by this turn of events, but decides to help his wife through this new phase of her life, and the two of them work together to figure out how to acquire a steady supply of food for Sheila without exposing her secret. Along the way, they also dig into the mystery of why she turned into a zombie, and learn that she's the only member of the undead in Santa Clarita.
In addition to the cost issues, the decision to cancel Santa Clarita Diet also has to do with Netflix's model, which unlike traditional TV relies on building up a large library of original content that viewers can discover at any time, rather than trying to fill a weekly schedule with new episodes of ongoing series. This is reflected in Netflix's statement about the cancelation, which says, "We’re grateful to [the creators, cast] and crew for three hilarious seasons for Netflix members to discover for years to come." Essentially, now Netflix can continue to benefit from the presence of Santa Clarita Diet in its library without having to spend more money on the show.