Netflix Is Wrong, It Has Cancelled Plenty Of Successful Shows

Netflix co-CEOs Ted Sarandos and Greg Peters said in a recent interview with Bloomberg that the streaming giant has “never cancelled a successful show”. This statement is absolute rubbish, and represents a woefully corporate definition of success that has been dragging down original content for several years. Success doesn’t equate to artistic achievement or compelling stories for Netflix, but sheer numbers as consumers keep coming back for more seasons while surrendering themselves to the algorithm.

It’s also shallow in how it puts every show and film on the same pedestal, acting as if all of them are subject to the same resources and potential to succeed. That is not and has never been the case, with juggernauts receiving far more budget and marketing than those having to fend for themselves. Success is a subjective metric dependent on genre, demographic, actors, brand recognition, and countless other factors that vary so much it can be impossible to quantify them. Not everything can be Squid Game or Stranger Things.

Netflix would much rather spend millions to keep outdated sitcoms like Friends in its library than commit to original content that hasn’t already been a resounding success. We live in a media landscape where everything is expected to be a franchise or a universe with the potential for expansion. Stranger Things and Squid Game are more than just shows now, they are springboards for spin-offs, merchandise, conversation, and a cultural impact Netflix can milk until it runs dry. Whether continuing these shows is the right decision doesn’t really matter, what does is the numbers they bring in compared to everything else. This would be fine if the platform accommodated smaller projects too, but it keeps canceling all of them.

How can it expect to retain its audience and grow larger when the reasons to stick around are few and far between. Why should I bother tuning into a new series on Netflix when the risk of cancellation has proven so prevalent. Earlier this month I wrote about the demise of Inside Job and Dead End: Paranormal Park within days or each other, and a few weeks before that I talked about sapphic shows like First Kill and Warrior Nun which were proven successes by most metrics, but simply weren’t enough for Netflix. It wasn’t able to take over the world, so of course this isn’t seen as successful. Applying such a strict definition to such a term is damaging, even more so to a streaming service that’s constantly complaining about how many subscribers it’s losing on a monthly basis. Here’s a hot tip: give us a reason to stay.

Why should we have faith in Netflix when stories and characters we are asked to fall in love with are put on the chopping block so readily? Fandoms form around these universes and all we want is for them to succeed, especially when it comes to animation and queer tales, but time and time again we’ve seen the company throw them aside. It has gone beyond parody, and I often find myself telling friends not to get too excited about anything on streaming now because there’s a chance it will be canceled in a heartbeat. Many of these shows are a success, I just don’t think Netflix has a broad idea of what that victory even means.

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