Netflix boasts its fair share of disappointing cancellations, and the platform has gained a notorious reputation for axing shows before they get a chance to find their footing or axing them right as they’re hitting their stride. However, the platform has also allowed certain shows to go on for way too long — drifting in every direction and losing the plot yet somehow still receiving the green light to push on through. So, let’s take a look at Netflix shows that deserved more seasons, and some that should’ve taken their bows sooner.
Canceled too soon: ‘Sense8’
Sense8 was a globe-spanning sci-fi epic that placed LGBTQ+ characters in the spotlight. In the show, eight individuals from different parts of the world share a psychic connection. They can tap into each other’s skillsets — from hacking into computers and driving buses like Nascar pros to kicking some ass in hand-to-hand combat — which comes in handy as they discover that a powerful organization seeks to rid the world of their existence.
Featuring stunning visuals, in-depth characterizations, and a twisty-turny wacky Wachowski plot, the show was a rich — occasionally sloppy — but compelling work of beauty. Likely due to the sheer cost of production, the show bowed out after a movie-like special in 2018 (instead of a third season). From the high-octane action sequences to the arousing group sex scenes and intimate vulnerable exchanges, Sense8 had all you could want in a show — sex, action, compassion, and intrigue.
Went on for too long: ‘13 Reasons Why’
The first season of 13 Reasons Why, based on the novel of the same name by Jay Asher, follows the story of Hannah Baker — a high school girl who dies by suicide and leaves behind 13 tapes that explain why she did it (and who in her life contributed to the irreversible act).
Though unforgivable in its glamorization of suicide — especially considering its impressionable demographic — the first season provided a cohesive storyline that nimbly jumped between the past and present to maintain a mysterious throughline. It was also a gripping exposé on adolescent grief with strong performances from the teenage actors and a stand-out Kate Walsh as Hannah’s devastated mother.
Unfortunately, once the show no longer had source material to rely on, it went off the rails. Ticking off checkboxes of hot-button adolescent issues in formulaic fashion, it did no more than instill shock value. It lost all sense of depth, becoming a melodramatic mess. Yet, despite the show’s utter fall from a semblance of grace, it received two more seasons that undercut the somewhat strong starting point. This should have been a one-and-done limited series based on Asher’s work.
Canceled too soon: ‘The Chair’
The Chair followed the trials and tribulations of an English department chair at a major university and starred a humorous and empathetic Sandra Oh in the leading role. Though a bit ambitious in all it sets out to accomplish, the show is an exploratory window into the academic world — and the all-too-disappointing fall of the humanities. As STEM fields become the “safe” option to guarantee success in this capitalistic-driven world, fewer students are enrolling in literature and art courses and, without students, do you have a department? Yet, more so, without the humanities, what happens to the culture at large?
Oh is utterly relatable — she is warm and tender but driven and determined. And, she boasts an outstanding supporting ensemble including Holland Taylor, Nana Mensah, David Morse, Joe Duplass, and Bob Balaban. Unfortunately, the show was axed after a singular standout season that tightly married absurdist comedy with industry misfortunes to create a dilemma that was at once professional and personal.
Went on for too long: ‘The Ranch’
The Ranch follows Colt (Ashton Kutcher), who returns home to his family’s ranch in Colorado after his semi-pro football career ends in failure. Though the show didn’t exactly do anything “wrong” (except hire Danny Masterson), it didn’t do all that much right. It’s quite formulaic and predictable and relies on a laugh track in the face of stale jokes that are often unfunny or offensive.
Though it’s common for shows of this sort to blend humor with more tender moments, it’s important to maintain a cohesive tone. Unfortunately, The Ranch suffered from tonally incongruous jumps between laughing matters and somber moments. And, despite a messy hodgepodge of heartfelt moments and humor, the show still failed to adequately develop its characters over the course of four uninspired seasons (split up into eight parts).
Canceled too soon: ‘One Day at a Time’
An exquisite reimagining of Norman Lear’s 1970s series of the same name, One Day at a Time follows a Cuban-American family as they face financial setbacks, racism, mental health issues, homophobia, interfamily disagreements, and more. Yet, despite conquering serious subject matters, the show always managed to inject laugh-out-loud humor without minimizing the very significant issues it tackled.
The main family members — Penelope (Justina Machado), Alex (Marcel Ruiz), Elena (Isabella Gomez), and Lydia (Rita Moreno) — all boast clearly defined relationships with one another that develop throughout the series, especially as the younger characters travel through the harsh terrain of adolescence. Not to mention, the performances from Machado and Moreno are award-worthy. They play a mother-daughter duo who love one another but do not see eye-to-eye as a result of generational differences and perspectives surrounding tradition.
The show is smart, heartfelt, and hilarious. A downright triumph that is timely and relatable — especially to those of us with loud, larger-than-life family members who can’t help but insert themselves into each other’s business. Netflix canceled the series after three critically acclaimed installments. Pop TV picked it up for one more season, and then it was goodbye forever to the Alvarez family.
Went on for too long: ‘Fuller House’
Netflix canceled the show above after three seasons but gave this poorly-acted, cringeworthy Full House reboot five nostalgia-heavy but utterly empty seasons. Please make it make sense.
Fuller House may have satisfied diehards of the original series, as we got to see our favorite ‘90s family back on screen. However, once that jolt of excitement wore off, it became clear that this show didn’t have much to offer outside entertaining cameos from Uncle Jesse, Joe, and now Grandpa Danny.
There are some cutesy moments and some family hugs that remind us of yesteryear, but it’s unoriginal and utterly unnecessary. Fuller House is yet another cash-grab reboot that does not improve upon or extend its predecessor in any significant way.
Canceled Too Soon: ‘The Midnight Club’
The Midnight Club is yet another Mike Flanagan creation that explores death and the idea that its finality may not exactly be final. The show takes place in a manor with a mysterious history and follows eight terminally ill teenagers who meet at midnight to share sinister stories — and look for signs of the supernatural from beyond. When death is knocking at your door, there isn’t much to be afraid of. There aren’t many risks you won’t take.
Though not Flanagan’s best — and paling in comparison to the triumphant Haunting of Hill House and Bly Manor — the show was a heartfelt exploration of the demons within us and outside of us. It’s tender. And the young-adult spin, while reducing the horror level, does not make the show any less impactful. It was canceled after one emotionally stirring and thrilling season.
Went on for too long: ‘Elite’
Three working-class students enroll at an elite high school in Spain (thanks to a scholarship program), and the clash between them and the existing high-brow students ends in murder. The first season offered a gripping mystery while exploring class differences, the power wealth grants, and the disadvantages the absence of it creates.
Unfortunately, in a very How to Get Away with Murder fashion, each new season presents a new death. Each new season, there is a new string of suspects, as the students band together to dodge trouble. It’s extremely repetitive. The formula only works for so long, and with most of the original cast members (whom we were so drawn to) no longer in the series, it’s no longer worth the watch. Season 7 is set to drop on Netflix in October 2023… It just keeps on kicking!