There was a time when it seemed virtually impossible to get your cable or streaming show cancelled. Peak TV meant that there was an insatiable demand for content, and in the hope that a show might be a “Breaking Bad”-style momentum builder, many networks or streaming services stuck with low-rated but critically acclaimed shows like “Halt & Catch Fire” or “Manhattan” long past the point that more traditional networks would have pulled the plug.
Sometimes that paid off — “Halt & Catch Fire’ became one of the best TV shows around, though it still doesn’t pull in many viewers, while “The Americans” finally picked up Emmy recognition several seasons in — sometimes it doesn’t — WGN America gave multiple seasons to not just “Manhattan,” but shows like “Underground” and “Salem” too, only to get out of the drama game entirely. But things are tougher these days — Netflix have been wielding the axe on series like “Gypsy” and “Sense8” of late, and now Amazon have just pulled a “Vinyl” and cancelled their renewal of a show that was previously widely expected to be cancelled.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the streaming giant have scrapped plans for the second season of “Z: The Beginning Of Everything,” the Christina Ricci-starring biopic series of Zelda Fitzgerald. The show debuted earlier in the year to decidedly tepid reviews and not much buzz, and was heavily rumored to be canceleld, only for Amazon to give the show a pick-up back in April.
Some speculated at the time that the decision was in part down to criticism over their favoring of male-centric dramas (going straight to series with shows from David O. Russell and Matthew Weiner) over shows like “Good Girls Revolt,” which was cancelled despite decent notices after one season amidst rumors that Amazon Studios boss Roy Price wasn’t a fan. The company denied this at the time, saying “We heard a good pitch for season two, and based on that, we renewed the show. Anything else is speculation” (and in fairness, Jill Soloway, Tig Notaro and Amy Sherman-Palladino have all found homes and multile season pick-ups with Amazon).
But it turns out that second-season pitch can’t have been that good: a writers’ room had been assembled and as much as $7 million had been spent on pre-production before the plug was pulled this week. Interestingly, the trade says that Amazon is likely to be reducing its spending on series in 2018, which likely factored into the decision. Is this in order to make way for expensive shows from Russell, Nicolas Winding Refn and Weiner? Or perhaps an indication that some of their original content, aside from Soloway’s shows, haven’t really broken into the zeitgeist?
Still, Fitzgerald fans shouldn’t cancel their Amazon accounts just yet: their other F. Scott-related series, “The Last Tycoon,” is still awaiting news on a renewal…