A Troubling Trend in Cancellations: Are Inclusive Shows in Danger?

Rosewood,” “The Get Down,” “Sense8,” “Pitch,” “East Los High,” “Sweet/Vicious,” “Underground,” “American Crime.”

These are all shows that were canceled recently. Notice a pattern?

They all had non-white and/or non-male leads or ensemble casts. Often the main creative voices behind the scenes were not necessarily what most showrunners are — white men. The programs listed above were all very different from each other in tone and execution, but they were the kind of programs that, from an inclusion standpoint, Hollywood leaders have repeatedly said they want to make.

The industry did make those shows, and now they’re all gone.

I haven’t crunched the numbers on this, and let me be clear, I am a fan of crunching the numbers when it comes to matters of inclusion and diversity (or the lack of it that is still the hallmark of too many segments of the TV industry). Variety writes stories like this all the time — including this year and last year and lots of other times — and we’ll continue to monitor and digest the numbers that come out from various guilds and from our own data-gathering efforts.

So, given my penchant for numbers, charts and data when it comes to these issues, I am fully aware that one anecdotal list does not prove anything definitively. Lots of shows get canceled every year, especially in spring and early summer, when the networks are clearing the decks for their next few rounds of acquisitions. If someone wanted to make a counter-argument, they most certainly could do so by mentioning that “Last Man Standing” and “The Odd Couple,” two shows with white male leads, were also canceled in recent weeks. WGN America didn’t just cancel “Underground,” it also canceled the predominantly white “Outsiders.”

But there’s still reason to be worried.

Having written about these issues for a very long time, here are a couple of truths I learned the hard way: Hollywood is way too quick to pat itself on the back for the smallest and most overdue steps forward when it comes to diversity, inclusion and representation — and the industry is far, far too quick to let the backsliding begin. And when that backsliding does begin (as it has many times in the past), many who mouth easy platitudes — instead of doing the real work of increasing the diversity of the industry — very easily and even reflexively turn a blind eye to the return to the status quo. (If that status quo was ever even seriously challenged — and at too many networks and studios, it is not. Still.)

Many of us who observe the TV scene have noted that its recent expansions — which have gotten us within shouting distance of 500 scripted shows per year — have led to the existence of many more TV shows created by non-white, female and LGBTQ writer/producers. This is one of the best things about the last few years — the explosion and expansion of points of view, protagonists, subjects and styles. Seeing shows led, in front of and behind the cameras, by men and women who reflect the world we live in was both a relief and a beginning — it was not the end of institutional sexism and racism, but the start of an era that had tentatively begun to right of decades of bias, blindness, arrogance and neglect.

But there was always an undercurrent of worry when many of us celebrated the TV industry’s (very incomplete) progress, as it started the process of truly expanding its worldviews and creative rosters. That progress is non-existent or weak in some quarters, and inconsistent in others, for starters. Beyond that, for some time, many of us have been worried that, if Peak TV were ever to begin contracting, that the shows created by non-white, female and LGBTQ creators — especially the newer entrants into the mix — would be the first ones shown the door.

Two years ago, NPR’s Linda Holmes began to sound that alarm, and since then, it’s been picked up by many other critics, fans and TV writers. As Holmes put it then, “If there is to be a contraction that works to the benefit of the industry and the audience at large, it can’t come from cutting off newcomers and telling them we’re full.”

I agree. And for all I know, TV is still expanding. Maybe the quest for inclusion and better representation in Hollywood will pick up steam (though the media’s ongoing coverage of this topic says that, in many regards, that’s not occurring).

But this recent spate of cancellations still worries me, I must admit. Especially in these troubled times, when it’s more important than ever to reinforce views of America that are forward-looking, inclusive and tolerant. I do know that there are men and women in this industry who care deeply about these matters. I often wonder, frankly, if there will ever be enough of them to counteract the entrenched pressures that led to decades of lingering inequality. 

I love TV, but it’s an industry that so often relies on — and reverts to — bad habits. The industry’s progress in these vital arenas is patchy and incomplete. That’s one way of saying that I certainly don’t want to see a rerun of where we were a decade ago.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 159

Leave a Reply

159 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Marty JG says:

    That I can quickly find these are the list of Cancelled TV shows 2016 to 2017.

    American Crime, The Catch, Conviction, Dr Ken, Imaginary Mary, Last Man Standing, Mistress, Notorious, Real O’Neals, Secrets & Lies, Uncle Buck, 2 Broke Girls, American Gothic, BrainDead, Criminal Minds Beyond Borders, Doubt, The Great Indoors, The Odd COuple, Pure Genius, Ransom, Training Day, Frequency, No Tomorrow, Reign, APB, Coupled, Making History, Pitch, Rosewood, Scream Queens, Sleepy Hollow, Son of Zorn, You The Jury, The Apprentice (presumed), Aquarius, Blacklist Redemption, Caught on Camera (presumed), Chicago Justice, Emerald City, First Dates (presumed), Grimm, Maya & Marty (presumed), Patient Zero, Powerless, QuizUp, STRONG, Any Given Wednesday, Vinyl, The Young Pope, Masters of Sex, Roadies, The Get Down, Marco Polo, Sense8, Good Girls Revolt, Hand of God, Highston, East Los High, Baby Daddy, Blunt Talk, Comedy Bang! Bang!, Dead of summer, Devious Maids, Eyewitness, Feed the Beast, Girl Meets World, Guilt, Impastor, Incorporated, Jim Gaffigan Show, Kingdom, Man seeking Woman, Mary + Jane, Mercy Street, Murder in the First, Outsiders, Please Like Me, Quarry, Salem, Sex & Drugs & RocknRoll, Sweet/Vicious, Tyrant, Underground.

    So yes, I did notice a pattern from your list, you cherry-picked 8 shows out of 83 and used this as evidence of racism. For my money it’s a tragedy BrainDead and Incorporated were cancelled, but I don’t go all Evergreen Campus about it.

  2. alliehanley says:

    Go ahead and blame this on Trump, or get real for a moment. You can’t shove a forward thinking political agenda down American TV audiences throats and expect them to tune in because you want Hollywood to be more inclusive. These cancellations are a reflection of demand. Not enough people tuned in, simple as that. Hollywood doesn’t just make shows for the good of the public, they make them to turn a profit and if no one is watching well then there is no demand for that.

    Finally, you need to keep politics out of art. Simple as that.

    • John Lynn says:

      Keep politics out of art…you must be joking. On the ceiling of the dome of the whitehouse is art. The Linoln memorial is art. The Washington monument is art. Writing plays is art and William Shakespeare wrote “King Lear” and “Hamlet”. The ancient Greeks and Romans made statues of their senators, military commanders, and emperors. There is not even enough room here or time for me to list the musicians and poets whose works include the political landscape as a subject. Clearly you are not an artists, or you would know better than to type what you did.. People who are not artists should stay out of art.

  3. Sam says:

    Think Star Trek or Tales of the Gold Monkey, then you will see a pattern.

  4. Tiffany Hill says:

    I can actually understand why these shows were axed and no i doubt it wa about race… For instance “Pitch” and “American Crime” ratings were lagging big time and never really had the boost the networks, especially fox, were hoping for … Underground was on WGN and that network i believe was sold so they canceled a bunch of its scripted shows including the primarily white “Outsiders” series…. The Get Down was extremely expensive i mean like one of the most expensive programs out there… As for Rosewood, again the ratings were pretty much floundering i was amazed it lasted as long as it did… So yeah there was no bias many of these shows were either too expensive to keep going or the ratings dropped so significantly they didn’t have a prayer ..

  5. Alex says:

    No exec has ever said, “This show is making money, but let’s cancel it anyways.” It’s the entertainment business, not a giant SJW charity organization. The markets (aka the people) will decide what is desirable and thus what survives

    • alliehanley says:

      Agree with you, but that Tim Allan show… Last Man Standing… it had ratings that made it #2 on its network for comedy. It had demand… but it was a conservative branded show.

  6. Zaidi B says:

    Back in February, I thought this ‘inclusion’, wonderful as it is, was colored by the irony that it was happening in the age of the Orange Man! I struggled against the feeling that it was all a gimmick: too good to be true; a pacifying stratagem whose only purpose was to lull us black folk into a ‘functional somnambulism’ that deluded us into thinking the ‘change’ we hoped for under Obama was actually happening under Trump!! NOT HARDLY!! Now that the Neo-Nazi, Steve Bannon is back in the White House, running P.R., I see a concerted effort to ascribe all of America’s problems onto Black and Brown people. The program is called; ‘America’s Final Solution’!!!

  7. Julian Penrod says:

    As is so often the case in this matter, an important point is left unspoken.
    Were the programs good?
    Relentlessly, politically one note. Playing to shallow minds. Dependent on depictions of white, heterosexual, Gentile men that would be considered bigoted if applied to others. And generally poor in characterization, dialog, story, material. Simply being overheated and pseudo episodic does not make series quality.
    In the end, “diversity” is just a code word to cover up real intentions. It used to be called “quotas”, but that made it too obvious it was just a demand that people without ability be hired solely because they belonged to certain groups. Then it was called “equal opportunity”, but that was a lie since it involved necessary “set asides” so not all white, heterosexual, Gentile men had equal opportunities ad members of other groups. So they call it “diversity” but, if all people are supposedly the same, if it was content of the stories that was being thought of, anyone should be able to provide it! And, face it, white, heterosexual, Gentile men did an eminent job of providing wide ranges of types of material and considerations before “diversity” began to be pushed.

    • Zaidi B says:

      BULLSHIT!!! Your response is supremely indicative of what people of color are up against: A mindset that is steeped in ‘White Supremacy’ and the domination and destruction of Black people and their culture. the ancient Romans would be proud of you.

  8. I’m not saying that there aren’t people out there who automatically scream racism, regardless of the situation. But every time someone suggests that that might be a factor, people want to go into denial mode, like it’s been completely obliterated from our society. It hasn’t. It still exist. Yes, no everything is about race, but saying that as a response to every situation, even one where it actually is a valid concern, just makes you look like a coward, who just has to keep their head buried in the sand. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging a problem where there is one. But it’s pathetic to never want to face the reality that it exists. Grow up, and get back in touch with the unfortunate truths of the real world. It’s not even effecting half the people who deny it, so why does it scare you so much to hear about it? Acknowledging that some people that look like you can be racist, or sexist, or homophobic towards minorities, doesn’t make you any of those things. So your discomfort with the topic is, just…childish.

    • Zaidi B says:

      YEAH!! Like you’re in denial of ‘White Racism’!!! You’re so obviously steeped in it that you’re unaware of how arrogant you sound in telling black and brown people that their sensibilities are wrong!! Go fix yourself; because you are so obviously broken!!!

      • That’s not denial oh-uneducated one. It’s a fact. White racism isn’t a thing, based on the definition of racism (which you can look up on your own since I’m not responsible for your knowledge, you are). White prejudice is a thing. And I don’t know what nonsense you’re about sensibility, but clearly you didn’t actually read my comment. It was a general comment, where no one is being spoken for. But those who want to live under a rock for all time, get called out. So when you actually go back and read my comment, and come up with something intelligent to say you can get back to me. I don’t argue with bored trolls. Think about fixing that flaw within yourself, before you give someone else any advice.

  9. scarkhum says:

    Inclusion is Affirmative Action’s talented cousin. They’ll let you in the door, but they don’t have to like you, or keep you around.

  10. ctrent29 says:

    In a way I can see why you would include “Underground” on this list, but . . . I suspect the series was cancelled due to a change in the WGN ownership. After all, the WGN also cancelled “Manhattan” two years ago and also just recently, “Outsiders”, which was their highest rated show.

    • Zaidi B says:

      It’s amazing how White people will bend over backwards to lick their faces just to deny their naked racism!!

      • alliehanley says:

        It’s amazing how BLACK people will bend over backwards to lick their faces just to deny their naked racism!! (whoops I am white and now I am a racist because I took your exact words and exchanged “Black” for “White”). The hypocrisy of America people, right here. The shows failed because of demand. Not some Trump Bannon inspired conspiracy or because whitey wants to keep the black man down Zaidi B. It’s just good ol’ fashion demand. The Get Down was a fantastic show. Sense8 took it’s political agenda and never missed a beat to ram it down viewers throats. When it’s overly contrived it becomes less about art, and more about politics. “Pitch” was overtly contrived and audiences didn’t connect with it. This article is silly anyway because the author doesn’t once mention DEMAND, and states that he doesn’t have the numbers to support anything. Just that he might possibly see a trend. Want to see the trend in action. Look at the titles Marvel Comics cancelled last month… most of them were comics featuring less mainstream (more inclusive characters) and people didn’t buy them. You can’t take a political agenda and cram it down people’s throats, expect them to buy it, and when they don’t call them RACISTS, and that’s what I get from your comment.

  11. Mark says:

    actually shows great progress. Shows being evaluated on similar footing. On merit. Viewership. Ratings. Profitability. Good diverse raciakly, ethicaicity and sexual orientation inclusive shows renewed. Blackish. Empire. Fresh off the boat. Atlanta. Modern family. Scandal. How to get away with murder. Many Less diverse shows as you pointed out cancelled. Not a cause for worry.

  12. riley blue says:

    i agree that inclusive media being cut is a very real issue, but in the case of the get down and sense8, both had EXTREMELY high budgets (around 150 million per season) with a fairly low viewership. i’m not certain about the other series, but from what i know, they had similar issues. no matter what, it’s still sad to see those shows go.

  13. mhysa says:

    I’m just so glad someone’s noticed. And especially so that sweet/vicious was mentioned. There’s so many battles to be fought that these shows have taken head on and it’s so disheartening when they get cancelled for bs. I wish all these shows would get rebooted but unfortunately I know they most likely won’t.

  14. nerdrage says:

    Of the shows mentioned, the only one I want back is Underground. But I’m really looking forward to Orange is the New Black, which I doubt is going to be cancelled anytime soon. And the rather diverse GLOW is soon to follow. I’ve got that one pegged as another hit for Netflix. After that, I might have to pony up for CBS All Access to see my beloved Star Trek, finally back, and with a black female lead (finally!) Overall, shows may be blindingly white, but not from my perspective.

  15. Jenn says:

    Hello, Miss White PC Police — you know what else was cancelled? Imaginary Mary; The Catch, Conviction, Last Man Standing; Mistresses, Notorious; Secrets & Lies; 2 Broke Girls; American Gothic; Brain Dead, Doubt; The Great Indoors; The Odd Couple; Pure Genius; etc. What is the troubling trend there? That there are too many white people in them? Why not celebrate that those shows you mention got on the air in the first place — but we must remember that this is “Show Business,” not “Show Charity.” A series still has to reach a wide audience and make money. Why not talk about Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder; Empire; Star; Orange is the New Black; Will & Grace (coming back); Transparent, etc. Wow, you really needed to fill a column, I guess.

  16. Sensenine says:

    There is a big difference between shows that are inclusive and open new horizons for viewers, and shows that are treated like an opportunity to non-stop brainwash the public on a cause, a gigantic advertisement to impose an outlook on life and The One And Only truth.

    Not even to mention that many of those shows are simply not that good. In a competitive landscape with too many shows to choose crom, they don’t stand a chance.

  17. Rev Deborah Lipsitz says:

    In a profit-centered industry, they will ALWAYS bow to the wishes of the majority, even when it goes against there own best interests in the long term. The cancellation of Sense8, a show that featured LGBT persons in leading rolls, not to mention behind the scenes, on the very first day of Pride Month was stunning. That Netflix opted to not even say why sends a very clear message to fans of the show what the unspoken reason is.

    We are responding in kind by cancelling our subscriptions, without any explanation, though by now I’m sure the shareholders at Netflix will know why.

    I’m tired of shows that do not have anyone like me at all, that follow the same old formulas that have been around since my family bought our first TV (a real luxury and novelty back then). If the industry wants to gear everything towards straight white Christian males, that’s fine. Just don’t expect me to want to pay for or watch it. I want original, inclusive, creative content that blows my mind (something the Wachowskis are by now VERY well known for, having made their studio bosses obscene amounts of profits from their works). Netflix, and other networks and studios, have made quite clear they have no interest in providing such content. I mean, seriously, giving a second season to 13 Reasons Why, after all 13 reasons are given and the story line has obviously concluded while leaving fans hanging from Sense8’s season-ending cliffhanger?

    We who ultimately pay for these shows, whether through theater tickets, subscriptions, or rewarding sponsors of the content by purchasing their goods and services, deserve far better than what we are now going to be offered. If the industry can’t provide it, they can and likely will be replaced.

    • Jenn says:

      jeez calm down. How about the fact they Netflix put the show on for two seasons — and it was very expensive — but it didn’t get that many viewers? You can hardly call them homophobic. The show definitely had niche appeal. As far as the Wachowskis making obscene amount of profits for their studios, maybe you haven’t heard of Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas, or Jupiter Rising. There’s a reason they went to TV.

  18. Grego Daone says:

    I’m a grandparent of a biracial 17 year old. We were both learnng more about that time in history than ANY school book offers. Canceling ‘Underground’ unsettling and makes me question how big the WGN RUG rug covering this thoughtless act is.

  19. pickles says:

    What a stupid article. The Get Down was ean expensive show. Netflix cancelled Bloodline and Longmire. Were they cancelled because they leads were while men? Netflix just gave a Will Smith movie 90 million dollars did he get that because he is black? Grow up writer not everything is racist.

    • The writer didn’t say anything about racism. Why don’t you grow up and stop making assumptions about what an article is saying? Oh that’s right, because you most likely didn’t read the article. The writer mentioned several shows with predominantly-white casts that got cancelled, genius. Lesson: READ then comment.

  20. Tim James says:

    Sense8 was a masterpiece. It’s not at all surprising that it would fly over the heads of people low enough for bigotry.

    • nerdrage says:

      Sense8 was badly written and in many cases badly acted. Just because it has a transgender actress doesn’t make it a masterpiece, especially when she’s an amateur who delivers her lines like she’s reading a teleprompter.

    • Jenn says:

      you’re the bigot – and a condescending elitist oblivious jerk. Get over yourself

      • Trillian says:

        And just because you didn’t like it doesn’t mean it is bad. I love Sense8 and I was eager to talk about all the theories surrounding the plot. Now we will never know, which feels like a giant waste of time.

  21. mashu6 says:

    It’s a shame that Maureen wrote such a beautiful essay about how The Leftovers (also cancelled) has echoed meaning in her experience and then writes an article for the sole purpose of click-bait. you are so much better than this lazily researched article

  22. Amazonia says:

    Yes it must all those evil far far extreme uber mega right wing white supremacist Nazis that fill staff own and operate Hollywood

  23. Mike F says:

    Sheesh.

    Mo Ryan better study mo’ statistics.

    Come on. She tries to create an issue listing eight, yes EIGHT, “inclusive” shows that were cancelled. And of course, she makes not attempt to reveal the ratings or production costs associated with these shows.

    Here’s something to consider: are eight shows really a significant amount? How many shows about white guys are cancelled? How many shows featuring heterosexual relationships get canned? How many shows are cancelled each year?

    Besides, it stands to reason that if Hollywood and TV execs increase the shows featuring “inclusive” roles, then there is a very real chance that some of those shows might not be renewed. As the numbers of diverse shows goes up, the more we can expect to see some of them cancelled.

    It’s a numbers game.

    But our esteemed Maureen Ryan doesn’t bother with the numbers. Oh no, not her. Mustn’t let the chance of pesky facts interfere with her diatribe.

  24. Wayne says:

    Can’t comment on some of the shows but Sense8 was awful. I loved American Crime but that had a diverse cast and didn’t just focus on blacks, whites, Asians or gay/straight/transgender. It was well written but did lose some steam with the current season.

  25. R.s says:

    Would u like me to point out how many shows w/ a straight, white, male lead (or whomever it is ur bitching about) have been cancelled or r u cool w/ having wasted everyone’s time??

  26. Cailean says:

    Considering how much promotion goes into shows and how much went into this shows… well… it is not surprising. Especially about Sweet/Vicious which I only saw thanks to someone telling me about it and a few of the listed shows I’ve never heard of (rosewood, american crime, east los high) or only because people in my circle saw them… and we’re a pretty eclectic bunch so we take notice of more shows than the general audience.

    And then there’s the thing that the people (read: men) who create media buzz are not necessarily very diverse or interested in diverse shows.

    So cards are not stacked in favor of those shows.

  27. Darrell says:

    I’m so sick of hearing someone bitch about non – white or non – male . Work hard and grow the fuck up , tired of these people looking for handouts. Coming from a white male who has worked for everything I have in my life and don’t complain about my race or sex when it doesn’t work out. To be honest white people are oppressed , there are so many programs and laws protecting people of color or any other sex (transgender,female,etc) Get over it before Isis shows you a real problem

  28. I hope you didn’t spend too much time on that completely irrelevant article.

    Sincerely,
    Michelle Magoffin

  29. The industry does sometimes have an issue with letting poc,lgbt and women through the door but all of these shows being cancelled is not why. American Crime,Pitch and Rosewood had bad ratings, Sense 8 and The Getdown were having huge budget conflict issues with the Showrunners and Netflix. And Underground despite doing better in the ratings then anything else on WGN just had the bad luck of their network deciding churning out reruns of old shows is more cost effective and ending all their scripted series.That said Underground very well might get picked up by another outlet. And East Los High got 4 seasons and a series finale sendoff episode,which seems pretty good for a show set in a high school.

  30. JD Dooley says:

    In real life, results matter. There are no participation trophies or safe spaces in adulthood. Affirmative action does not guarantee success, it merely assures opportunity. America is a free market, and free-market dynamics cannot be engineered to fit social activist’s agenda.

    Money rules… develop profitable shows or they will get canceled, regardless of the skin pigmentation or genitals of its actors.

  31. Brandy says:

    Well I watched Underground and it was a damn good show. I also loved Salem which was from the same WGN network. It has more to do with the network not being popular than the show. There is so much stuff ro watch on tv these days and alot of them have inclusive shows that are doing just fine. #1 it has to be entertaining and some of these are not. #2 The network has to be stable and able to keep pouring money into them. This is not the case in these shows. Stop making an issue where their isn’t one. Power on Starz is an almost all black leading cast produced by 50 cent, great show, Empire, almost all black leading cast, great show, Orange is the new black, all female leads with mixed races and even a trans woman in the lead, great show. It has to do with shows being entertaining and the network they are from being able to keep it going. The Underground and Salem feom WGN were great shows but there is almost no advertising for people to draw them there and the nights they are on are not great. It is so many other issues than an inclusive cast, in my opinion that has nothing to do with it.

  32. James Hall says:

    So funny… I’ve been waiting for this… Caught up in all the hype I knew we’d get a slew of ‘diverse’ shows and films that ultimately wouldn’t make any money and be cancelled. Why? Because African Americans are ONLY 13% OF THE POPULATION. Are you telling me the 70% of the population that is white is suddenly going to want to watch shows where all the characters are people of color? I think not. I don’t care how liberal and progressive minded you are. People want characters they can relate to.

    • Darrell says:

      Dude your sooooo wrong. America hasn’t been 70% white since wwII

      • ushio says:

        USA 2010 census 72.4% of US population is White, Non-Hispanic White is 63.7%
        18 states are still 80%+ Non-Hispanic White. 12 states are less than 60% Non-Hispanic White.

        1950 USA Non-Hispanic White was 87.5%
        1990 USA Non-Hispanic White was 75.6%

    • Sameera says:

      Funny how you expect people of color to relate to shows with all white people but can’t expect white people to relate to shows with people of color.

  33. Dale Day says:

    Don’t be a fool they got canceled for lackllackluster wiener ratings!
    Anything else is just trying to stir up trouble for no reason

  34. However, it’s not “more important to reinforce views” that are “forward-looking, inclusive & tolerant.” It’s more important to entertain. As entertainment results in money. If you fail to entertain, you fail to make money and you die. Show business.

  35. Capt Obvious says:

    Definitely worth considering, Mo.

    That being said, the WGN America stuff got cancelled because the network is literally imploding (about to become a conservative news outlet) and I think the two Netflix shows had budget issues.

  36. Paul Hanlin Jr says:

    Maureen, I’m thinking Sense8’s $10m reputed budget per episode had s nand in its demise .

  37. Note to whiny Liberals and SJWs: The TV business is not like a child’s soccer team where everyone gets equal playing time. It’s based on ratings, viewers and return on investment. The Get Down was DOA due to its outrageous $120m budget (more than GoT spends). The rest of them failed not due to America’s/Hollywood’s racism. They failed for the same reason every other show gets cancelled: Not enough viewers and/or ratings to justify further investment. It’s real easy to understand. We’ll never know why Netflix cancels shows since they don’t reveal their viewing numbers, but the rest make sense once you see their ratings and viewers vs other shows in their time slots. Empire (a black-led cast on network TV) dominates it’s night and ratings, so it will go on for a long time and produce spinoffs. these cancellations are not some racist conspiracy. It’s the TV business and the way it’s always been done.

  38. William Elam says:

    Because these shows in no way reflect ‘real’ life. Only in the minds of the ultra liberal writers and producers. No one wants to see this stuff, it’s worse than ‘fake news’ … it seems that every police precinct is headed by a black person, and more often than not, a black woman. Whites are the dopes, and need the steady hand of a black leader. Right.

  39. Gnillik says:

    Yes, everything is because of white males. Much like to the neo-Nazi, everything is because of the ZOG.

  40. Daredemo says:

    People, white or otherwise, are under no obligation to watch whatever shows you think constitutes a “vital arena” for industry progress. Making shows is a business, and the people financing the venture are entitled to withdraw if they feel it’s not worth the investment.

  41. wttucker says:

    I am confused; if you believe in number crunching then where are the numbers telling us about the ratings for these shows? If they were successful at attracting audiences and therefore advertisers, this would be a different story. Where was the editor on this piece?

    • JD Dooley says:

      Good point, wttucker. Sadly, investigating the underlying facts would require actual journalism. Today’s media hacks are nothing more than political activists cloaked as journalists… expecting them to apply their craft as professionals is pointless. Sad indeed.

  42. Media that puts social justice before entertainment value usually doesn’t attract many viewers, what a shocker!
    There’s nothing misogynist about not wanting to watch a show that calls me a horrible oppressive white male.

  43. Expensive show that isn’t popular enough to support it’s budget gets cancelled. Misogyny! Racism! Transphobia!

  44. Liz says:

    1) make shows for a non-white, non-male audience
    2) blame white guys for not watching them

    Wew lad

  45. Renata Medero says:

    I’ve seen Sense8 and The Get Down first seasons and I absolutely don’t think cancellation has something to do with this so called inclusive pattern. Lousy writing and bad execution cannot be denied. Seems to me that this are really good one season series that were kept alive with artificial support and their plots are becoming more erratic with each episode. Sense 8 for instance is giving much more dramatic weigh to certain charachters while others are there just for justification of the actions of the mentioned charachter. Lito’s feature “power” is help others pretending, acting but truth is this feature has been few times used and in laughable conditions this versua korean super fighter Sun who is still saddly locked up in a prision while Lito makes proselitism for the community. In Baz Lurmann’s The Get Down they had to recurre to these terrible distracting and useless animations not featured (since there was no need due to an air/water tight plot) on the first season. I swear I thought my Netflix was broken and suddenly was playing some Hannah Barbera old show! I mean dramatically doesn’t add anything and is irritating. Unfortunately we live in a society that likes conspiracy theories most of the times missing the point of simplicity and truth. The second season of these two shows are, if anything, mediocre.

  46. Ed says:

    um, 3 white men with a bevy of multiracial women seems more racist than anything. the aryan male hero has been the hackneyed hollywood self-glorification model going all the way back to the kkk glory days. you want diversity? how about a good looking asian male hero who goes out with a bevy of white and black women? that would be something new and not acceptable to the old white men that control hollywood who live vicariously through the hero images they create for themselves. good riddance to bad rubbish.

    • The show you’re talking about exists and is called “Master of None” on Netflix. It stars and was created by Aziz Ansari (an Indian man). He created the show specifically so “an Asian man gets to kiss the girl on screen”.

  47. One possible factor for the Netflix shows is international viewing. Netflix operates in a lot of countries now, and especially with the big budget shows they’re going to care about whether people outside the US are watching. It’s possible that inclusive shows like Sense8 are doing OK in the US but don’t travel well.

    It is certainly the case that international markets are changing the kind of movies that Hollywood is willing to make. Non-US box office is over 50% of the total now, and some films are now running over 80% international. Action movies, sequels, big name stars, and white male actors do well overseas; comedies and woman-centered films do not. Hollywood doesn’t make enough LGBTQ-centered films to know how well they will export but it’s likely that they will also be a hard sell; they’re certainly not going to do well in Russia.

    • nerdrage says:

      That occurred to me, too. Netflix just finagled an inroad to China, a massive market that will soon make up a large percentage of their viewership. Is Sense8 going to play well in China? Would it get past the censors? The US population is just 4% of the global total. Netflix is soon going to have a non-American majority of subscribers. They may happily watch American Hollywood style content, but I’m thinking more House of Cards and not so much Sense8.

    • Peter M. says:

      Thank goodness you are here to tell us how awful people are outside of the US because it is the only progressive country in the world!

      • nerdrage says:

        Darrell – “Non-US box office is over 50% of the total now, and some films are now running over 80% international.” actually agrees with you – that means that half of people watching Hollywood movies are non-Americans, and in some cases, it’s far higher. This has been happening for some time. Foreign audiences do watch Hollywood movies, but just some types and various forms of censorship are major factors. This will definitely have an influence on Netflix.

      • nerdrage says:

        Err…they actually are pretty awful but not so much the people as the governments. When Netflix has a large subscriber base in China, they are going to have to think about what shows and movies they can get past the government censors. House of Cards, yes. Sense8, no.

      • Darrell says:

        Peter I think your confused. He is saying allot of films are non USA films. However that is false. I travel to Asia, Europe, South America and they all watch american films because unfortunately we spent an insane amount of money on entertainment for this country, and with the most diversified country in the world most countries can find something they enjoy. Facts

    • Shirley,
      a very small number of foreign shows are popular in Russia on major TV channels. But most of the series do have a good fan base on cable and Sense8 in Russia is no exception. Whatever the official Kremlins attitude towards LGBT people, Wachowski’s has always been able to find a response from the Russians since the time of the Matrix.

    • Lucas says:

      Asian hero? Hahahahahahahahahaha

  48. With streaming sites like Netflix they know exactly when each viewer clicks stop on an episode and stops watching a series for good. So it only makes business sense to cancel the shows that reveal the true numbers of interested viewers.

  49. eddie willers says:

    Mo has become the Lenny Bruce of TV reviewers.

  50. Colin Vickery says:

    This article feels like it was dashed off over a coffee. Surely if you’re going to write about such an important issue you actually do need to crunch the numbers. Lazy. There was another, and better, recent article which put this issue into a wider perspective – that a lot of networks are retreating from scripted television and moving back to reality shows.

More TV News from Variety

Loading