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Mr. Robot had a strong series finale, so why did it fizzle out when it came to buzz and viewership?

  • As Alex Zalben notes, USA series' penultimate episode last week was down to about a quarter of its premiere viewership. "Mr. Robot still has an extremely loyal fanbase, and critics have certainly stuck with the series. But understanding what happened to Mr. Robot is to examine a microcosm of what is still happening to TV as a whole," says Zalben. Mr. Robot, he adds, "was an almost immediate hit for the network, and seemed to be the clear way forward. Only problem, they didn’t have the other programming to back it up. Though alien invasion drama Colony debuted strongly six months after Mr. Robot, it wasn’t held quite as in high critical regard and certainly didn’t drive online conversation the same way the intricately constructed Mr. Robot had from its first airing. This was followed by the sci-fi dreamscape of Falling Water later that year, which tanked in the ratings and only ran for two seasons. Unlike AMC, which always had The Walking Dead to fall back on, USA’s new strategy seemed to be less 'characters welcome,' and more 'unwelcome characters.'" USA has since bounced back with The Sinner, The Purge and Queen of the South as with  USA's "grey skies" programming. "In the midst of this, Mr. Robot, which was supposed to define the network’s identity going forward, started to seem like a lame duck," says Zalben. "Without additional programming surrounding the series, it became less of a destination, and more something to check out later, if at all." Zalben adds: "This also wasn’t help by two internal factors from the show. The first was that the ending to Season 1 was too satisfying. Despite a post-credits sequence that implied a wider ranging conspiracy and a surprising connection between two characters, the story from the first season seemed to be wrapped up. We knew who Mr. Robot was, Elliot had beaten E Corp, and the world was changed. The end, basically, and no need to watch anymore."


    TOPICS: Mr. Robot, USA Network, Rami Malek, Sam Esmail, Series Finales