Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 July 2019

From Veep to American Vandal: a look at the television shows axed in 2018

We take a look at the TV, both good and bad, that we won’t be seeing on our screens next year

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in 'Veep'. Courtesy HBO
Julia Louis-Dreyfus in 'Veep'. Courtesy HBO

This year saw the usual glut of TV cancellations. From slumping viewing figures to political scandals, the reasons for the year’s falling axes ran the gamut. We’ve even lost some of TV’s biggest shows, such as CBS’s number-one rated ­American sitcom The Big Bang Theory and HBO’s multi-award-winning Veep.

Netflix has been particularly brutal. The streamer has spent the past couple of years borrowing billions to invest in original content in a fast-track bid to compete with the vast libraries of the legacy broadcasters. Although it continues to invest heavily in new content, 2018 was also the year it chose to call time on existing shows, and barely a week seemed to pass without another cancellation.

Here are some of the big names we’ll miss – and some we won’t.

We’ll miss: Game of Thrones

We knew for a long time that HBO’s Game of Thrones would come to a close with season eight, and now we know the final season will premiere in April, hopefully bringing to a conclusion the eight-year on-screen battle for the throne of the seven kingdoms of Westeros. We’ve followed Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Arya Stark et al through countless hours of intrigue, manoeuvring and copious bloodshed, but it’s all coming to an end next year. In a further twist, creator George R R Martin disappointed fans in June when he revealed that at least one of the spin-off series that was in development had been cancelled, too.

We’ll miss: Veep

Season seven of the Armando Iannucci-created political satire began filming in August, and the final episodes are due to air in spring 2019, then that’s your lot, fans. Veep skipped a season this year, and spent much of the year on hiatus, while lead actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer. It hasn’t been cancelled due to low ratings, but because Dreyfus and the producers felt the storyline had reached a natural conclusion. The star, who plays vice-­president-turned-president Selina Meyer told The Hollywood Reporter: “We don’t want to wear out our welcome. The story has a finality to it that feels end-of-series.” Cheeky fans suggested online that, in fact, the show was ending because no amount of satire could outdo what was currently happening in the White House in real life.

We’ll miss: Hap and Leonard

Sundance Channel announced the cancellation of its noir Texan comedy, about two blue-collar friends who stumble into detective work, back in May, shortly after the end of season three. The decision took many by surprise as it was the most-watched show in the channel’s history, with season three’s viewing figures up on the previous, and it had a rare 100 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Author Joe R Lansdale also just published his 11th novel featuring the characters, so there is no shortage of material. Conspiracy theories abounded – the series was one of few on mainstream TV to tackle race, gender and sexual identity in a straightforward yet humorous manner. Was it all just too much for Trump’s America? Sundance has never given an official reason, so we may never know.

We’ll miss: Daredevil

There seemed a certain finality to Netflix’s cancellation of Daredevil after three seasons last month. The show was the first of the streaming service’s Marvel tie-ins, and its cancellation came just after the broadcaster called off two further Marvel properties, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. The Marvel output by Netflix has always been of varying quality, with Jessica Jones very much at the top end of the scale, and Fist at the very bottom, but Daredevil was towards the higher end, and it will be missed by Marvel-­loving subscribers.

We’ll miss: Ash vs Evil Dead

Sam Raimi’s spin-off of his Evil Dead franchise was cancelled by Starz in April after three seasons. The filmmaker brought Bruce Campbell back to reprise his role as zombie-slaying Ash Williams, a role he’s played since the original 1981 movie, and hardcore fans and critics loved the show. Mainstream viewers were less convinced, and audiences declined from almost half a million same-day viewers for season one to less than 200,000 for season three. Distraught fans petitioned Netflix on social media to resurrect the show. On April 23, however, Campbell let fans down gently when he tweeted: “Big props to fans for the effort, but I’m retired as Ash. #timetofrysomeotherfish.”

Good riddance: Roseanne

Roseanne was one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1980s and 1990s, so when ABC announced a reboot for this year featuring the original cast, audiences were excited. Then the show’s star Roseanne Barr went on Twitter. On March 27, right before the show’s premiere, she replied to a conspiracy theorist’s alt-right rantings about the Parkland shooting with the ill-judged tweet “NAZI SALUTE.” It was swiftly deleted, reportedly at ABC’s request, but #BoycottRoseanne was already trending. Nonetheless, the show premiered to a record 27.3 million viewers, and ABC ordered a second season. Viewing figures remained healthy, through, to the finale on May 22, and it looked like the actress had got away with it. A week later, on the evening of May 29, Barr sent a tweet calling a former President Obama advisor a jihadist and an “ape”. The fall from grace was swift. Producer Wanda Sykes was the first to condemn Barr and quit the show at 8.04pm that night. By 10pm, ABC had cancelled Roseanne and broadcasters were pulling out of rerun deals.

Good riddance: House of Cards

Another show cancelled due to bad behaviour from a star: House of Cards was on borrowed time after Kevin Spacey was accused of sexual molestation in November 2017. In an interview shortly before this year’s premiere of season six, co-star Robin Wright revealed that Netflix almost pulled the show immediately following the allegations, but thanks to her own intervention on behalf of the 2,500 people who relied on it for a living, Netflix agreed to rewrite the scripts without Spacey, and finish the story arc off properly. Regardless, it feels time for it to end, because the story has gone from ­exhilarating to exhausting (and that was the case before Spacey’s departure).

Good riddance: Iron Fist

No scandal associated with this cancellation, it was just a poor show with a dwindling audience. Netflix doesn’t release numbers, but research by media analysts Jumpshot suggests the superhero yarn lost 64 per cent of its viewers from season one to two. The ongoing spat between Disney and Netflix could have played a part. Disney will be taking the rights to all of its Marvel properties back for its own yet-to-launch streaming service once Netflix’s contracts expire. Watch this space.

Good riddance: American Vandal

The teen true-crime mockumentary was cancelled just a month after season two aired, and I didn’t shed any tears. The show has plenty of fans, and viewing figures were reportedly healthy. For me, though, it lacked the subtlety of something like The Office – as evidenced by the subject matter of the first two seasons – human excrement and other unsavoury jokes. There may be hope for fans yet – producer CBS Studios is reportedly in talks with broadcasters to revive the show elsewhere.

Good riddance: The Big Bang Theory

How The Big Bang Theory still exists in 2018 is beyond me. It’s sexist, it’s racist and its puerile humour simply isn’t funny. I’m sorry, but taking sneaky upskirt photos of your neighbour isn’t funny, it’s criminal. Even when the gang manage to keep their punchlines sexism- and racism-free, they’re inevitably met on my sofa by a decidedly straight face. I’m clearly in the minority here, as the show is bowing out as the most-watched on American TV, though interestingly, it’s never achieved huge success anywhere else in the world. Cultural differences again, perhaps, but I’ll sleep soundly at night knowing that when season 12 concludes in May, there’ll be one less pile of offensive garbage on TV.

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