It’s a fact that amazing television shows have been cancelled. Looking back, some cancellations can clearly be seen as a huge mistake. The quality of writing, the acting and the plotlines can all be great, but that does not ensure that a series will live its lifespan out on air. Recently, things have become even more complicated for entertainment. With the introduction of new ways to stream and watch shows on your computer, entertainment is moving away from traditional ways of watching on television. This can make it hard to calculate views and make decisions on which shows to keep.
However, more recently, the internet has saved certain shows from their untimely demise. In the past, now-famous shows such as “Firefly” and “Battlestar Galactica” were canceled after just one season. Now, with the help of social media, television networks can finally hear fan’s support when their shows are in danger. Showing love for our favorite shows online helps us average people have a voice in the often closed-off entertainment industry. And television networks are finally listening to the people, helping shows with strong fanbases stay rightly on air.
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” was just revived by NBC after the news of its cancellation by Fox broke a week ago. Going into its sixth season, the cancellation of the show came as a complete shock to its viewers. The show had made it past the hardest part of getting confirmed for its first couple of seasons and establishing its fan base. Most cuts are made to new shows, ones not likely to see a lifespan of over two seasons. When the news of the “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” cancellation broke, social media went into a frenzy. Many fans tagged NBC in their post, declaring their devotion to the show, and begging them not the cancel it. In the end, they won.
The fans of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” rejoiced. But many of them admitted that they don’t watch the show on their actual television, but on streaming devices like Hulu or illegally on their computer. Some of them professed their guilt for not contributing to their ratings by watching it traditionally on their TV. However, it raises the point that perhaps the ways of ranking televisions shows, which has always been far from perfect, is becoming outdated.
With a fully talented and well-known cast, with actors such a Andy Samberg and Terry Crews, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” was certainly far from the least original and quality show on air. It made me wonder how shows like the “Big Bang Theory,” which was easily renewed for a tiring 12th season, can get the high views that “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” needs. Many shows in the past like the “Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men” were renewed for at least a dozen seasons that many viewers agreed were past its prime. Perhaps, more viewers are watching these shows traditionally on their television as opposed to online. Or perhaps the television industry is playing it safe instead of renewing new and original content that people want to stay up to date with.
This might make sense. If newer shows that speak to a younger generation are popular, they are most likely being watched online. A lot of millenials don’t own a TV and can’t pay for cable, so they keep up-to-date by watching shows through streaming devices or illegally on their computer. Television networks can’t take this into account, and might not want to chance a show that is underperforming in its television ratings.
It proves that the television rating system has been far from perfect and can halt new and creative content. In the past, shows that were hailed by fans were canceled after their first season. For instance, “Freaks and Geeks” was a ‘90s show with rising actors James Franco, Seth Rogen and countless other stars before their fame. On Netflix, it grew a huge fan base who were frustrated and shocked that it had merely one season. “The Mindy Project,” Mindy Kaling’s TV show, was cancelled by Fox, but faced so much support that Hulu picked it up to stream for its final seasons. “Arrested Development” struggled to stay alive and was finally cancelled after three seasons in 2006. It became so popular with its original witty jokes and characters that, after its cancellation, Netflix paid to reboot it five years later on its streaming platform.
These instances of successful revivals prove that cancellations are not always an accurate portrayal of quality. Sometimes, content has a fan base that just isn’t being heard. Previously, this was a hard problem to fix. But now social media is making it easy to show support for entertainment we think is valuable. The era of streaming shows online has completely changed the game for shows like “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” While fans may watch it on different platforms, making it hard to gauge exactly who its audience is, you are able to see the popularity on social media. As we shift from traditional television watching to online, we want to maintain and support quality content we all enjoy. And this victory shows that we are finally beginning to do just that.
Claire Harvey is a third-year literary journalism student. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.