Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services have been canceling their shows on a cliffhanger lately, and it’s causing outrage among their subscribers. It’s understandable — when you pay for a story, you expect to be able to finish the story.
Unfortunately, it seems that these streaming services are only interested in keeping their viewers hooked during the season, and don’t care about providing a satisfying conclusion. Paid subscribers deserve better than this — we should be able to finish the story without having to search for fan theories online.
HBO recently canceled Raised by Wolves in the middle of a story, and they are not the first. Netflix has done the same with The OA and Sense8. Sens8, though, was lucky enough to receive a reprieve — a two-hour final episode. Netflix agreed to conclude the story only after an online campaign demanded something that should have been a given.
It’s time for these streaming services to start giving their subscribers what they want — a satisfying conclusion to the story. We’re tired of being left on a cliffhanger, not knowing what happens next. We’re tired of wondering if our favorite characters are going to make it out alive. We’re tired of waiting for another season that may never come. We want closure, and we deserve it.
In the earlier days of network television, shows would be canceled all the time, but that was a different era, one in which each hour or half-hour episode told a stand-alone story. There were very few serialized dramas. It really didn’t matter whether viewers of The Jack Benny Show or Mannix got a special, final episode. Many of us still mourn the late, great, single season of The Eddie Capra Mysteries, but when it was canceled, there were no online petitions demanding a conclusion. When the ax fell, all the mysteries had been solved.
But that was then and this is now, and today’s television landscape is very different. The serialized Hill Street Blues, with its intricate, continuing storylines, changed everything. Now we’re used to getting invested in a story, and we want to see how it ends.
It’s not just that we want to see how the story ends — it’s that we need to see how the story ends. It’s like buying a novel that’s missing its final page.
We’ve paid for the entire story, and we deserve to see the ending. The networks have caught on – when they cancel a serialized drama, they give the producers warning, and the last episode of the season is often rejiggered to tie up loose ends. TV producers wrapped up their stories, with varying degrees of artistic success, on Life on Mars, Castle, Awake and Pushing Daisies. Awake and Pushing Daisies had terrific conclusions, Castle and Life on Mars did not. But at least they all had a conclusion.
Since the streaming services “drop” an entire season at once, so that’s not possible, and so we pay a premium for stories that don’t end.
Here’s an idea: when a streaming service buys a serialized program, build in a contingency plan: pay the producers to write a final episode that can be shot on short notice and aired if the show is canceled. It might not be as good as the creators originally envisioned, but at least it would give viewers some closure.
And if the show is renewed, no harm done — the final episode can always be shelved.
So streaming services, please give us what we want – a satisfying conclusion to the story. We’re tired of being left hanging, and we deserve better.
Content by Audere Magazine; Image by Pexels.