While Netflix continues to keep the ball rolling on a number of its shows – sex education season three has been greenlit, stranger things season four was in production before the global situation ground it to a halt, and The Crown is getting a fourth (and final) chapter, granting it permission to end on its own terms – others bite the dust early, with multiple threads left hanging – a hammer blow for fans who have followed those stories from the very beginning.
desde The OA to Santa Clarita Dietthere have been a number of Netflix casualties over the years, and we expect plenty more in the future.
One of the latest series banished to the TV graveyard was Messiah, a thriller about a CIA officer’s investigation into a mysterious man who is believed to be the Second Coming of Christ by his followers.
The show’s first season hit the streaming platform on New Year’s Day, but it was announced at the end of March that season two would not be going ahead.
Actor Wil Traval, who plays Will Mathers in the drama, shared the news on his Instagram page: “It’s a very sad day today. I have just received news from Netflix that there will be no season 2 of #messiah. I wanted to say to all the fans thank you for your support and love. I wish things were different.”
But its cancellation certainly wasn’t for lack of ideas from its creator Michael Petroni.
chatting to collisionr about the future of the show prior to Netflix pulling the plug, he said: “I’ve got a good idea. There are a couple of seasons where I absolutely know where the show goes.
“It’s interesting because it was such a massive undertaking to do this season, and yet when we finished editing it and we sat down and watched it, we got to the end of it and it felt like just the beginning. It really did.
“It was almost daunting to me that it felt like the beginning of the story.”
So why not season two?
Netflix very rarely explains its decision to cancel shows, but more often than not it indicates that the ratings are low, which means the platform doesn’t get enough bang for its buck.
“When we’re investing, we decide how much to invest based on the audience that will show up,” said Netflix’s head of original content Cindy Holland at a conference back in 2019 (via dead line).
“If the audience doesn’t show up, we think about the reason to continue to invest in something that doesn’t do as well as we had hoped.
“Obviously, critical acclaim is important too, but we’re really about trying to stretch our investment dollars as far as we can and make good on our investors’ money – it’s theirs, not ours.”
But there are rumblings that ratings were not the driving factor behind Messiah‘s cancellation.
According to The Hollywood Reporter“the company didn’t feel confident about producing another season of the show, which features an international cast and filmed in several countries, given the current state of the world”.
The show was filmed in numerous locations in New Mexico, Amman – the capital of Jordan, among others.
We should add that that is not an official Netflix statement, but comes from a hollywoodreporter source.
But it’s also glaringly obvious that the numbers tuning in were not on a par with that of stranger things or SexEducation. Had Messiah reached those heights, Petroni would have been popping champagne rather than musing over what could have been.
The show itself also attracted some controversy concerning the use of the name Al-Masih.
In the cast list, lead actor Mehdi Dehbi is listed as Al-Masih ad-Dajjal, which means The Antichrist or false Messiah, someone who lies and deceives. But the premise of the show questions whether this particular man, Al-Masih, is the true Son of God.
Some were also unhappy that filming took place on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, a site of religious importance.
The Royal Film Commission of Jordan wanted Netflix to “refrain from streaming it” in the country because “the content of the series could be largely perceived or interpreted as infringing on the sanctity of religion”.
The commission did acknowledge the “purely fictional” nature of the story and its characters, but still wanted it banned.
A Change.org petition also argued that the series is “evil and anti-Islamic propaganda” and a “middle finger to religion”.
But that only gained just over 5,700 signatures, which is unlikely to have played a role in Netflix’s decision.
The streaming powerhouse did respond to those criticisms with the following statement (via dead line): “Messiah is a work of fiction. It is not based on any one character, figure or religion.
“All Netflix shows feature ratings and information to help members make their own decisions about what’s right for them and their families.”
But criticisms aside, no official comment was made about the cancellation, so we can only speculate about why the series will not be returning for round two.
Both of those issues certainly could have played a role, but our Spidey senses are telling us that a lack of enthusiasm from subscribers spelled doom for the show.
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