TV shows getting canceled isn’t a new thing — everything has to end eventually, whether we like it or not — but in 2022, the decisions from on high certainly hit different. During the height of the pandemic, countless TV shows that had been previously renewed were abruptly canceled, from GLOW (which was entering its final season) to The Society and On Becoming a God in Central Florida. It quickly became apparent that programs telling stories from queer, Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous, and female-centered voices were easier targets, and that trend shows no signs of disappearing. As the streaming wars continue, networks and streamers constantly affirm that they will provide platforms for original and diverse narratives to flourish, yet shows like The Gordita Chronicles are usually the first to go.
New head of Warner Bros. Discovery David Zaslav — who pulled the plug on the Batgirl film for a tax break back in August — began axing dozens of beloved titles in the fall, and the bloodbath continues. In addition to canceling lots of original programming, WB Discovery is also in the process of removing HBO and HBO Max originals (80 and counting), many of which aired in recent years but failed to find the same success as some of the company’s other prestige offerings. These include Generation, Mrs. Fletcher, and Camping.
Still, cancellations are a fairly regular occurrence, and there have been several shows dropped beyond the WB Discovery fiasco. Lest we forget, Netflix has been having problems of its own, while Peacock has yet to fully find its footing when it comes to scripted series. There are contributing factors beyond money: Some series ultimately had poor viewership or weren’t well received by audiences. But this culling has eliminated many series that deserved better. Here, we pay tribute to 18 of the best shows we lost in 2022:
Reality dating television has been a hot market for over two decades, to the point where it’s gotten repetitive. Thus, it was refreshing to have a show like FBoy Island grace our screens. The HBO Max series, which ran for two seasons and was hosted by comedian Nikki Glaser, was a delightfully authentic break from the marriage-centric goals that reality TV often taps into, reinventing the formula while basking in the fact that it was completely in on the joke.
The cancellation of this BBC One and HBO co-production was announced just months after the long-awaited second season premiered, following pandemic-related delays. Centering on real-life English landowner and queer icon Anne Lister, the series quickly earned a dedicated fanbase, and creator Sally Wainwright stated that there was material prepared for a third season. It’s a disappointing decision that contributes to the trend of axing female- and queer-centered television we have become far too familiar with.
HBO Max’s Minx, about the launch of a feminist porn magazine in the 1970s, was a hit upon release in early 2022. A second season was deservedly announced soon after, and things seemed to be going smoothly as cast and crew shared updates from production on the upcoming season. So imagine the shock when HBO Max recently announced it was reversing the renewal in order to cut costs, leaving producers to shop around for a new home while wrapping up shooting. Canceling a series is one thing, but doing so in the midst of production is baffling, and we can only hope that we’ll get to see the sophomore season on our screens soon.
Westworld may have had its fair share of ups and downs throughout its four-season run, but it’s still shocking to see such a pivotal show be discarded by HBO after garnering a handful of accolades and positive critical reception. It was announced this past fall that, despite plans for additional seasons, the sci-fi drama would not continue after its recent fourth season. Fine! But now, Westworld and several other HBO and HBO Max original titles have been removed from the service and licensed to third-party services, and that’s just distasteful.
Made for Love
Based on Alissa Nutting’s book of the same name, Made for Love was such an ambitious and gloriously weird exploration of relationship dynamics and technology that it was surprising to see it score a second season, which aired earlier this year. Unfortunately, it was perhaps too niche to survive the Warner Bros. Discovery merger, and was canceled shortly after. Any show that puts Cristin Milioti front and center deserves all the love in the world, and HBO Max has robbed us of getting to see her continue to showcase her talent.
Raised by Wolves
Yet another title thrown out in HBO Max’s ongoing massacre of its programming, the Ridley Scott-produced sci-fi series was nothing short of pure spectacle, full of twists and rich aesthetics unlike anything else on television. In an all-too-familiar move, Raised by Wolves was first canceled and has now been removed from the service altogether, making it harder for people to discover this gem in the future.
The Warner Bros. Discovery merger had previously emphasized a focus on reality TV offerings, such as the Chip and Joanna Gaines universe no one asked for, yet has canceled unique shows like Legendary and Finding Magic Mike. A groundbreaking competition series that ran for three seasons and put ballroom culture at the forefront, Legendary was an absolute rarity. Its unceremonious cancellation in favor of what will likely be an emphasis on generic reality programming is absolutely heart-wrenching.
After just two seasons, this comedy from Julio Torres, Ana Fabrega, and Fred Armisen, who also co-starred, was canceled. Fusing surrealism and supernatural elements with absurdist gags and goth aesthetics, the primarily Spanish language series was a spotlight for Latinx storytelling that subverted traditional narratives and stood out in the best way possible. We’ll dearly miss the stylish characters and witty writing the series blessed us with.
The first original scripted series to debut on HBO Max, Love Life is one of many titles that have been canceled and soon wiped from the streamer’s collection. An anthology that ran for two seasons, shifting its focus from Anna Kendrick to William Jackson Harper in the process, it was a thoughtfully executed romantic comedy that honestly portrayed the nature of relationships. It’s disappointing that WBD gave up on it just as the show was reaching its highest potential.
Joe Pera Talks With You
This past summer, Joe Pera announced that his sublime Adult Swim series had been canceled after a short but sweet three-season run. With bite-sized episodes, the series made for a poetic, poignant, and meditative viewing experience, the kind that rarely ever comes along. Joe Pera Talks With You is a national treasure, and it’s saddening that we won’t get to witness more of it.
Peacock has undoubtedly had a rocky year, canceling shows like Saved by the Bell and Girls5Eva — the latter of which was picked up by Netflix — and doing the bare minimum in terms of promoting any programming not focused on true crime. It stings that a show as delightful and hilarious as Rutherford Falls had to take a bullet as well, especially when considering the rise of TV developed and led by Indigenous creatives in recent years.
Saved by the Bell
Revivals of beloved classics can be hit or miss, so when the rare gem like Peacock’s Saved by the Bell reboot came along, it should have been something the streamer cherished rather than canceled after two seasons. Perfectly blending originality and topics relevant to the present day with the right dose of nostalgia, such as bringing back the majority of the OG cast, Saved by the Bell was a funny, silly, and smart sitcom. But it was ultimately so overlooked by audiences that it ended up concluding prematurely.
Netflix has a puzzling strategy when it comes to which shows get to live to see another day and which get killed in a heartbeat. Over the years, it has frequently canceled shows that fall into the young adult genre, including The Society, Everything Sucks!, and First Kill. But it’s still incredibly confusing to see a show as popular as Warrior Nun, which recently debuted a second season that ended on a cliffhanger, get axed so quickly. The fantasy action series has the highest audience ratings for any Netflix show and has amassed a dedicated cult following online, so it’s tragic, albeit not necessarily shocking, that the streamer would choose not to move forward with another female-led program.
The Baby-Sitters Club
As previously established, Netflix tends to find it easier to cancel its tween and teen-centered offerings, especially those about girls. An unfortunate result of this was the cancellation of The Baby-Sitters Club, a smart and delightful adaptation of the beloved book series that never talked down to its younger viewers and treated the experience of girlhood with a rare honesty.
As a historical drama centering on the early life of Queen Elizabeth I, Becoming Elizabeth easily checks all the boxes of what would make a successful, multi-season series at Starz – the cabler has found success with The White Queen, The White Princess, The Spanish Princess, and The Serpent Queen. Portraying the titular character as a complex individual, the series had a lot of potential and material to work with, but will instead join the one-season wonders piling up at the network.
Work in Progress
Abby McEnany’s semi-autobiographical comedy, which counted Lilly Wachowski as showrunner, offered a portrait of queer people that was free of stereotypical trauma narratives. Bold, hysterical, and caring in equal measure, Work in Progress was a special show that was just getting started. It’s disheartening to see networks claim to champion diverse storytelling yet continue to cancel incredible shows early in their runs.
Led by the genius ensemble composed of Don Cheadle, Regina Hall, Andrew Rannells, Paul Scheer, and Casey Wilson, Black Monday was a fun and hilarious series that flew criminally under the radar at Showtime. While the first season didn’t start off on a strong note, the show eventually found its stride in the two seasons that rounded out the series, turning into one of the most enjoyable products of prestige TV.
Shows about teenage girls fighting for survival in the wilderness have been all the rage, yet Prime Video’s The Wilds only lasted two seasons before getting axed. The first season was a highly compelling exploration of teenage girlhood, but the second season, which introduced a group of boys into the mix, altered the show’s energy and ultimately led to a decline in quality. Nevertheless, its cancellation hurts more knowing that we’ll never find out the answer to a major cliffhanger.
Jihane Bousfiha is a culture writer based in Florida.
TOPICS: The Baby-Sitters Club