Pressing play on a new Netflix Original series should come with a disclaimer: don’t get too attached. The streaming company has proven time and time again that if shows don’t show enough promise they will be axed before fans can enjoy a satisfying resolution.
The latest addition to our list of the canceled TV shows of 2022 is The Baby-Sitters Club, which has reached the end of its short road after just two seasons.
“I have wanted to be a part of the world Ann M. Martin created since I was seven years old, and for two amazing seasons I actually got to be,” said series creator Rachel Shuketer in a statement shared with Variety.
“It was a dream come true. Although I am heartbroken not to be returning to Stoneybrook for 20 more seasons, I am so proud of the incredible show our amazing cast and crew created and the way it brought joy and comfort to so many when they needed it most,” she continued. “Thank you to Walden Media and to Netflix for giving us the opportunity to introduce Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, Mary Anne, Dawn, Jessi and Mallory to a new generation of fans who I know will love them as much as we do for years to like.”
As is par for the course with Netflix cancellations, this doesn’t seem to have as much to do with the quality of the production as the dollars-and-cents calculation of eyeballs and dwell time.
Like Gentefied before it, The Baby-Sitters Club has met with near universal praise, with a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 87% rating on Metacritic. It just clearly didn’t tempt enough Netflix subscribers to click it, which is rough when the company’s mysterious discovery algorithms have as much to answer for in that respect as the quality of the writing, acting and cinematography.
Ruthless efficiency can backfire
I don’t doubt there are very clever calculations going on at Netflix to decide which series get past the three-seasons mark and which are prematurely cut short. And yes: making original shows is expensive, and clearly there can be no room for dead wood. But it seems to me that if Netflix cements its reputation for ending shows without warning, then it will ultimately prove counterproductive.
I never watched The Baby-Sitters Club and in fact rarely let the Netflix algorithm guide me. That way leads to shows which are essentially fine, but uninspiring, I find: programs that will keep me watching, but are unlikely to get me recommending them to others. The last Netflix Original I watched all the way through was F is for Family — and with hindsight, I’m lucky that Netflix let it run for its full deserved five seasons given it was the definition of a slow burner.
But would I watch the latest Netflix Original series even based on glowing critic reviews? Probably not at this point: there’s just too much chance that Netflix will pull the plug before the story is complete.
If that sentiment becomes mainstream, then the company will ultimately be deprived of the precious data it needs to uncover the next international megahit. And that, in turn, makes Netflix price hikes all the harder to justify, ultimately impacting the bottom line.