The pandemic struck Netflix with a tough pill to swallow, it cancelled women-driven shows in 2020 and is under scrutiny from an inclusivity perspective
It has been a very eventful 2020, one that has forced people and businesses around the world to make adjustments to various life and work processes. While digital businesses have reaped exceedingly from the lockdown, non-digital businesses have struggled. The streaming service, Netflix predictably saw an explosive increase in revenue during the lockdown caused by the pandemic. Yet while they flaunt a library of exciting movies and series, there has been outcry lately about the rate at which the platform is cancelling some of its fan-favourite shows.
Why Netflix Cancel Shows?
Since its inception in 1997, Netflix currently has a library of over 3,781 movies and numerous series that cut across various movie genres and viewer preferences. The basis on which the streaming service cancels its shows has been known to vary. While some shows are axed due to excessive production costs, some others are simply just abandoned by the producers.
Quite often, an underwhelming second season leads to a rapid loss in viewership and puts a series up for either improvement or downright cancellation. Other times, we’ve seen production costs and lack of interest serve as reasons for pulling the plug on some shows. While some shows like Lucifer, House of Cards and Marvel’s Jessica Jones were given conclusive endings, some others like Godless and Empire just seemed to be left on a cliff. While it seems that these shows are getting cancelled randomly, it has also been noticed that a lot of them are largely female-centric or female themed.
Watch: How Does Netflix Choose Which Shows to Cancel?
Women Representation In Lead Shows
As in 2018, female-centric movies made up a large percentage of the top streaming shows on Netflix. Shows like Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Jimmy Schmidt and Glow presented female lead characters in ways that weren’t usual.
Although giving women lead roles in movies had become a norm, there weren’t too many shows with women in the lead roles that were doing well.
A couple of female-centric shows managed to stay at the top of the streaming list throughout their show span. Shows like How To Get Away With Murder, Grace and Frankie, Orange Is The New Black, and House Of Cards held solid viewer numbers throughout the period they aired. However, there are a couple of other shows that were quickly developing a huge viewership but weren’t allowed to continue.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones, for example, had to stop after Warner Bros TV swooped up lead actress, Melissa Rosenberg. The show had just finished filming its third season. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on the other hand was a case of taking a bow while the ovation is high. Although the show still had viable plots that could have been developed, the producers decided to end the show after its fourth season.
Why Netflix Cancelled Women Centric Shows
Furthermore, in 2020 Netflix cancelled shows like Marianne, Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, I Am Not OK With This, The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance and Teenage Bounty Hunters – productions mostly driven by women. From another angle, it might seem that the issue might not be the rate at which female-centric shows are ending or getting cancelled. Rather, it could be that the quality of new shows with women in lead roles has seen a steady decline.
The discontinuation of shows like Godless and Altered Carbon was quite justified, considering how underwhelming their first seasons had been. And some others just fell victim to the effects of a global pandemic.
The lockdown caused Netflix to refine a lot of details concerning the criteria for keeping shows on the – streaming – roaster. They initially mandated a maximum of 13 episodes per season and shows that had 3 to 4 seasons max were given higher preference. By the time the lockdown was in full effect, they knew they could afford to let go of some high cost shows.
With several heavyweights like Disney, HBO Max and Comcast stepping into the streaming terrain, it’s no surprise that Netflix would want to ensure a higher degree of exclusivity for its shows. Whether that would involve more or less female-centric shows is yet to be seen. So while some women do make their mark in Hollywood like Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, Jeniffer Aniston by donning various caps on a project, Netflix’s further steps will be carefully monitored for the sake of representation.