How to deal when your favorite show gets canceled
Sometimes, the worst thing you can imagine as a fan happens: Your favorite show ends before its time. This recently happened with queer favorite Wynonna Earp, which has been plagued with roadblocks stemming from studio and distribution issues for the past two seasons despite a loyal and dedicated fanbase. So, what’s a fan to do when their beloved show, a place they feel seen, is canceled too soon? And how can you help other queer shows that might be on the bubble?
Feel your feelings. Ignore the folks who say, “it’s just a TV show” or “I can’t believe you’re upset about fictional characters.” You can feel any way you need to about the ending of something you love. As queer people, often the first times we see healthy reflections of ourselves are in television or film. Mourn it, be angry, feel sad, whatever you need to feel—screw judgment. You aren’t alone.
Take stock when those feelings are too overwhelming. I’ve seen many fans express intense and upsetting feelings about the cancelation of shows. If you feel hopeless, emotionally, or physically ill, reach out to those you trust, whether it’s a friend or a professional. There is no shame in it. If you are in immediate crisis or distress, organizations like The Trevor Project and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender National Hotline are there to help.
Be passionate AND pragmatic. Some shows do find another home when they are released from a network, but many don’t. Much more than fan support goes into these decisions, and when multiple studios and creative licenses are involved, it can get especially tricky. So fight the fight and do your fandom thing! Just know that there are many moving parts involved, and if you don’t get the outcome you are hoping for, it doesn’t reflect poorly on a fandom.
Shows may end but fandom never dies. Xena the Warrior Princess ended in 2001 and still has a yearly retreat/conference dedicated to it. Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended in 2003 and is being discovered by new fans every day. Fandom is the result of the thing we love. It’s the family, the love, the heart of it all. Just because a show ends doesn’t mean a fandom does. There will be many more cons and panels, events, and opportunities to celebrate your favorite show.
Pay attention to how shows are doing in ratings. Ratings still matter, and often the best way to tell if a show is in danger is by keeping an eye on the ratings. Ratings equal eyes on ads = dollars. Shows that touch fans the deepest may not be making the sort of money or garnering the ratings they need to. Unfortunately, those shows often focus on LGBTQ storylines and characters. For example, Wynonna Earp brought in an average of 300,000 viewers an episode in Season 4A. While that put them in 3rd place overall in Syfy’s ratings, it’s still challenging and a dip from their previous ratings. You can check out ratings here.
This is a good resource and will help you know how your favorite shows are doing on a weekly basis. See a show will some struggling ratings? Give it some love.
Let advertisers know you are watching. Say Progressive Insurance or Oreo is paying for a spot on your favorite show. Let them know you saw and appreciate the support. Ultimately advertisers need to make money off of viewers; it’s just a fact. This is a great way to say, we see you, and you see us. You’re the consumer, and you do have a voice in this.
Support other queer shows. Even if you aren’t an uber fan of another queer show, do adjacent fandoms a favor and show your support. That could mean merely tuning in to help get those ratings up or using your social voice to lend support. Queer shows already start at a disadvantage. They have to work twice as hard and need your volume to rise above the noise. Shows you think are doing just fine, may be struggling. For example, the fabulous Pose on FX has tons of critical acclaim is only bringing in an average of half a million viewers. Same with Freeform's Motherland, which is bringing in a similar number of viewers as Wynonna Earp.
You'll love (a show) again. I promise. More shows will come along and some may even fill your heart in a way you didn't expect. You will fall again for characters, root with your whole soul for new ships, and make new friends along the way. And those shows will learn from the ones that came before and take a little piece of them along for the ride.
Feel free to vent about your favorite show's cancellation in the comments and share other shows that could use viewer support.