Viewer outrage: Netflix’s cancellation of ‘Shadow and Bone’ faces backlash

For many Netflix users, November 15th 2023 marked a sorrowful day, due to the cancellation of another well-loved Netflix original series, ‘Shadow and Bone’. This show is based on the YA fantasy book series, of the same name, by Leigh Bardugo. Set in Bardugo’s magical, war-torn Grishaverse, this tale follows orphan cartographer Alina Starkov, as she discovers her hidden powers as a ‘Sun-Summoner’, while working on a camp for the First Army. She embarks on an epic journey of danger, adventure, self discovery and romance. While still grappling with her newfound power, responsibility falls upon Alina to use this gift to save the world as she knows it from the dangerous powers scheming against her.

When this series first premiered on April 23rd of 2021, it was popularly celebrated for its enchanting fantastical world, with the show soaring to the number 1 spot of the streaming service’s list of ‘Top 10 TV Programmes Today’. It has gained a respectable 84% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes, with one viewer applauding how it ‘holds its own as a formidable and binge-worthy series.’ Starring big names such as Ben Barnes, as well as new up-and-coming actors such as Jessie Mei Li and Archie Renaux, this show brought its cast into the spotlight and gained a large fanbase. Therefore, naturally, the announcement that this show will not be renewed for a third season, and there will be no ‘Six of Crows’ spin off, was not well-received. Leigh Bardugo took to Instagram to report the news, stating she was ‘heartbroken and deeply disappointed’. While Bardugo did express ‘very real gratitude’ for the adaptation having its moment, as she calls herself ‘one of the lucky few who can look at an adaptation with pride and tremendous joy’, some viewers did not share this sentiment, instead filled with outrage. One declared ‘I’m heartbroken’, another demanding ‘Someone start a petition’ and another claiming that ‘This ruined my day’. One viewer refers to this decision as ‘Such a mistake on their part’, as ‘The passion of everyone involved was so evident’.

With such vehemently negative reactions in response to the cancellation, surely this begs the question of why this came about in the first place? This news comes following the ongoing 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike, which has greatly impacted the film and television industry as a whole. The actors’ and workers’ strikes halted production for many projects. Therefore, this was likely a contributing factor. Another potential reason may be the second season’s failure to gain as much traction as the first. The new season, premiering on March 16th 2023, while still popular, did not reach the same levels of success. It was even described by one unimpressed viewer, as having a ‘faltering plot’, having packed its episodes with ‘too many storylines, overshadowing fundamental plot and character beats’.

One way or another, Shadow and Bone has followed in a long line of prematurely cancelled shows, including ‘Anne with an E’ and ‘The Society’, which have come to an abrupt close without ever providing their viewers with a resolution to the end-of-season cliff-hangers, or answers to the many loose-ends. With Netflix displaying such unreliability, this leaves viewers hesitant to become attached to shows that have no assurance of longevity.

Featured image: Charles Deluvio via Unsplash

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