04 Jan Open Letter to Netflix
(Note: This letter can easily be applied to any media company that produces episodic television.)
I’m not angry because you canceled Daredevil; if you had announced that season three was to be the final season, I would be sad to see it go, Charlie Cox’s nuanced performance as a straight-laced lawyer by day and vigilante by night, was a joy to watch; but I would not be angry. I’ve watched television for many years. I am aware that all good shows must come to an end and I thank you and Marvel for giving him the opportunity to bring “The Man Without Fear” to life for us. He is an asset to the Marvel family, and they would be foolish to lose him.
No, I, and many of your subscribers, are angry because there was, and seems like there never will be, closure for these characters or the fans. Back in 2015, you and Marvel asked us to join you on a journey into a small corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe where the heroes defended everyday life and just wanted to keep NYC safe. Along the way, I assume you picked up a sizable number of new subscribers also. (I know I continued my subscription specifically for the Marvel shows).
I’m sure I speak for many fans when I say that we were excited to enter the darker, more adult world of the MCU where Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Danny Rand resided. We trusted you to create the best, live-action adaptations possible. Sure, some seasons were executed better than others or resonated deeper with the audience but, again, we trusted you to create high quality, emotionally gripping, human stories…and to entertain us.
Then you broke that trust. First, it was Iron Fist, canceled after season two corrected most of the faults of the first, that ended with Danny Rand on a journey of personal enlightenment and Colleen Wing on a path of becoming NYC’s newest hero.
Then Daredevil season 3 dropped. Critics and fans alike praised it — some with comparisons to The Dark Knight. Cox, D’Onofrio, Woll, Henson, Ali, Whalley and Bethel all gave award-winning performances; the writing, directing, choreography and production were stellar. That same day, you announced the cancellation of Luke Cage due to “creative differences,” leaving the “Hero of Harlem” with several unfinished storylines.
On November 29th, you dropped the biggest bomb; Daredevil was canceled. We were stunned. Critics were still praising season three, while viewers, who were unable to binge, continued to watch but you still chose to go out on a “high note.” There was a large audience for Daredevil, and according to some statistics, it was one of the most popular and in-demand shows on the platform. It was the third Marvel show to fall and the third, without a proper ending.
As subscribers, not just a set of eyes for advertisers, we pay for you to create the content on your platform. Many people subscribed explicitly for the Marvel shows. The manner in which you canceled these shows suggests that, as subscribers, we are not important. In fact, according to Ted Sarandos, we are not a “quality audience”.
It suggests that we are not as important as the viewers of shows like Hemlock Grove, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, or The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which all received final seasons to tie up lingering storylines. Even Sense8 was given closure with a Christmas special.
The Marvel shows, and their audiences, deserve a proper ending. I originally subscribed to watch Hemlock Grove. I continued my subscription solely for the Marvel offerings. I did enjoy a few other shows along the way, such as Travelers and Friends from College, but I am now hesitant to watch any episodic series on your platform. Three shows canceled on cliffhangers! (With two more cancellations imminent!) After spending approximately 160 hours with The Defenders, I am angry there will be no finality to the universe they shared.
It’s easy to hide behind the excuse of “it’s just business.” I am fully aware of the upcoming Disney streaming service and their decision to end the theatrical distribution deal this year but when your CCO says that the shows are yours to cancel and you’re super happy with their performance, there is no excuse to not properly end these series’. If it was truly just a “business decision” shouldn’t that business also be about the fans, viewers, and subscribers?
These characters and their stories deserve closure.
The fans, casts, crews, writers, directors and producers, all deserve closure.
An Angry Subscriber
Cc: Marvel, Disney and all Media Companies that produce episodic television