Why are previously renewed TV shows getting cancelled?

The world of television is getting even tougher due to COVID-19.

I Am Not Okay With This, Stumptown and The Society were cancelled due to COVID-19

Keeping a television series on the air for multiple seasons is hard enough during ordinary times, particularly in the US where scripted shows are churned out at a rapid pace.

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But since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the film and television industry has been trapped in a particularly challenging spot, with production halted or slowed on numerous major productions.

The knock-on effect is that several studios are now having to take a second look at their plans, in some cases reversing the decision to proceed with shows that had been renewed for another season.

But why exactly is this happening, and is it likely to continue? RadioTimes.com investigates…

Why are renewed shows getting cancelled?

While exact circumstances vary for each series, there are a handful of recurring problems caused by the pandemic that have been a deciding factor in several renewal reversals.

For Netflix’s young adult dramas I Am Not Okay With This and The Society, issues arose from having a large cast of actors, which causes social distancing challenges on set and makes it harder to resolve clashing schedules.

The latter was also a major factor in the early scrapping of USA Network’s Evel Knievel series, as star Milo Ventimiglia was due to start filming during his summer break from family drama This Is Us.

This was not possible due to the coronavirus lockdown, with the actor now returning to work on his hit NBC series, thus demonstrating the headaches caused by upsetting tightly packed calendars.

In the case of private eye drama Stumptown, recently axed by ABC despite previously having a second season greenlit,  challenges caused by reshuffling the creative team had already slowed production, with continuing COVID-19 complications making it hard to get back on track.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the proposed second season of Stumptown would not have been able to make it to air until next April at the earliest, which was simply too long for broadcaster ABC to wait.

Once again, the cast was a factor, with high-profile stars Cobie Smulders, Jake Johnson and Michael Ealy contributing to the relatively high price tag of the show.

Budgetary concerns are unlikely to go away as production costs continue to rise due to new safety protocols, which help prevent infection but make shooting scenes a longer process.

What other shows could be at risk?

Katee Sackhoff in Another Life (Netflix)
Netflix

Generally, television fans needn’t worry about major upcoming shows like Stranger Things 4 or The Boys season three, as those are such important titles for their respective streaming services that it’s unlikely they would be meddled with.

The productions at risk are likely to have a smaller following, but relatively high production costs caused by either visual effects, a large cast, or sizeable production delays.

We can only speculate at the moment about which other shows could have their renewal revoked, but it does appear likely to affect more projects going forward.

As one of the biggest content producers in the world, Netflix may need to make more cuts going forward or risk an unfeasible backlog of shows clogging their pipeline.

The streaming service is infamously private about their viewing figures, but it’s not hard to see that some shows are more popular additions to its catalogue than others. For example, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the likes of Another Life and Locke & Key, two shows with large casts, visual effects and relatively niche fanbases.

In addition, the plot of the latter relies heavily on the age of its child cast, including IT‘s Jackson Robert Scott, meaning there is a danger of the actors growing out of their roles if production is substantially delayed.

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