The cancellation of TV shows is always brutal to fans, but this season seems particularly harsh. Shows that were providing a valuable place of escape for many people have been cut down at a rapid pace.
Cancellation happens every season and it’s common for fans to start petitions and hash tag campaigns to save their shows, but somehow this season feels like a far more brutal gut punch than in years past. A lot of our perception on the severity of these cancellations may have to do with our current social and political environment, as well as the demographics of the shows that are being cut down. Reality has been rather hard, lately, and many people are immersing themselves deeper into their shows as a result. We’re desperately chasing escapism from the news and our fictional worlds are being ripped away from us in great numbers.
The first show to get the ax this week was Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which recently had a bisexual coming out story with one of its main characters. Needless to say, this felt like a major victory when LGBTQ+ hate crime is on the rise. The show had always been on my radar, but hearing how much this story line meant to people made me finally want to tune in. But here we are only five months after the headline grabbing plot point and the show got the ax (though fans are hopeful it could be picked back up elsewhere). When the world feels so incredibly violent towards LGBTQ+ and POC communities, the cancellation of a show with such strong representation feels even more pronounced.
(UPDATE: Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been saved!)
But Brooklyn Nine-Nine isn’t the only show that people have been using to escape to get slaughtered this week. Genre shows have been getting cut down all over the place. Lucifer, The Expanse, and The Exorcist all got cancelled, and the all woman led Supernatural spin off Wayward Sisters failed to get a pick up at the CW. In addition to being diverse (The Exorcist had a gay priest as a lead, The Expanse had a large number of POC characters, and Lucifer also boasted strong diversity among its cast), these shows also offered an additional layer of escapism for fans with their fantasy and science fiction settings. Genre media has always been popular in difficult times. There’s something about imagining a world with a bit of magic that’s comforting, even when the world we’re escaping into is particularly dramatic or cruel. It helps media consumers feel like the heroes they relate to have a bit more power to face adversity than we do. Having these fantasy worlds get taken away from us feels cruel. Reality sucks, man. Let us indulge in a bit of magic.
At the time of this writing, S.H.I.E.L.D. has survived the cut, but rumors are flying regarding its fate. A rather cryptic tweet from a cast member and months of chatter don’t give much hope to fans. Many expect word to break that it’ll be taken out by the end of the day. After the pain caused by Infinity War, I’m not sure MCU fandom will take this news all that well. Inhumans got cancelled, but that show didn’t resonate with MCU fans the way S.H.I.E.L.D. did. There were few people as invested with it as they were S.H.I.E.L.D. So prayers to S.H.I.E.L.D. fans on this cruel TV show cancellation season. I hope you survive.
The Upfronts will be announced next week, and while that can be an exciting time to see what the networks will be bringing us next fall, it almost feels like a slap to the face this year after so many quality shows got cancelled. Yes, you’re bringing us something new, but so many fandoms just had their world taken away from them while reality gets more and more depressing with every passing day. Summer is going to be difficult for those who just lost their vehicle for escape. My only hope is that fandom will be able to keep these world going without the prospect of new source material long enough for people to find something else.
On a personal note, if Legion gets cancelled, I’ll be first in line to start a riot. That’s my personal escape pod from reality at the moment and I don’t know what I’d do without it. If it goes down, I’m fully prepared to fight for it. With how awful this week has been in regards to show renewals, I’m pretty terrified that my show is next. Right now I’ve avoided anything I watch getting cut down this year, but I’m sure my days are numbered. Just spare us, please?
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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