TV Article: A Cancelled Show is Still Successful

Written by Emily Stewart August 01, 2013

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How you probably feel when your favourite show is cancelled

Don’t you hate it when you are addicted to a television show, and then it gets cancelled? I’m sure you feel shocked and confused when that happens. Due to likable characters, a creative plot, catchy score, brilliant aesthetics and/or any other factor, it is hard for you to understand why it was gone too soon.

I know that’s how I feel when a show I love gets the boot, no matter how many seasons it’s been on air.  Some of my favourite shows, like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or “That 70’s Show” are no longer running. When did I start watching them? Well, long after they finished. There are several new shows released annually, but only a few can stay on air for years. That said, just because a show is cancelled doesn’t mean it’s failed.

But so many people watch the show, it must be good!

Obviously, how many viewers tune in per week determines the success of the show. Poor ratings usually result in an unhappy ending, no matter how much the audience enjoys it. On the other hand, shows with high ratings will earn more seasons and fans sporting their t-shirts. Despite that, a show’s success isn’t determined by ratings alone. Whether the show lasts for one year or a decade, there is always some sort of following-even if it doesn’t win the hearts of the majority of general television viewers.

Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” is a great example. Yes, it had a very low rating of 98th place in Nielsen Ratings when it was cancelled in 2002, but it’s got a dedicated fan base that raised $14 000 just to get the show on DVD. Some critical reviews highly praised “Firefly” as well. Michael Speier of Variety thought “there is no other project that so blatantly uses videogame [sic] visuals” in his review. Linda Stasi called it “a very funny, very hip, very terrific sci-fi show” for a review in the New York Post.

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 “Community” is another example. When it was benched halfway through their third season, fans used social media to save it. There was even a flash mob at the Rockefeller Center to bring it back on. The Nielsen ratings may have gone from 97 to 133 in the past four seasons, but there is no denying the comedy has a strong community of fans.

But it’s been on for years! It has to be doing well!

As cliché as it sounds, quantity doesn’t equal quality. While it is always a delight to see more adventures from your favourite characters, you can only accompany them for so long.  Television shows will change over time as the characters grow. Sometimes for the better, other times, not so much. Eventually, the quips of the characters become tired and the show isn’t as good as it was in its glory days.

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“Corner Gas” was cancelled after six seasons, for example. It had nothing to do with bad ratings or reviews-CTV actually wanted it to continue on. However, creator and star Brent Butt thought it was the time to go. “I want to exit gracefully, on the top of our game, when we’re at our prime-because that’s how I want viewers to remember Corner Gas: at its very best” he explained in a CBC News article.

In the end, Butt had the right idea. Any show can have an audience, but they can only be entertained for so long. To make sure they don’t dwindle after one too many catchphrases, it’s best to end the show right when it’s doing well. It’s always sad when our favourite show ends no matter how long it’s been on for, but absence or cancellation doesn’t always mean failure. The only way a show can truly be successful is if it appeals to an audience-even if it’s not the majority of viewers.

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About Emily Stewart

Emily is a Media, Information and Technoculture student at Western University who likes to put her critical thinking skills and passion for writing to good use, including reviewing TV shows for We Eat Films.

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