Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar’s Netflix show 1899 will not return for a second season, the duo announced on 2 January 2023. An immediate backlash from the fans ensued, insisting that the popular streaming platform reverse its decision. The relatively successful multi-lingual show was the first of its kind and was on Netflix’s Top 10 TV shows list for a month following its release in November 2022, but it ultimately failed to make a mark, resulting in its abrupt cancellation.
The series was originally planned for a three-season run. The showrunners, at a promotional event, teased what to expect next. However, Frises and Odar, took to Instagram to announce the end of any such plans, stating, “With a heavy heart we have to tell you that 1899 will not be renewed. We would have loved to finish this incredible journey with a second and third season as we did with Dark. But sometimes things don’t turn out the way you planned. That’s life.”
Why was the show cancelled?
One of the primary reasons for the show's cancellation was arguably its failure to clock in its viewership numbers consistently. Although a successful show in its own right, it couldn’t compete with the Netflix’s other non-English shows such as All of Us Are Dead, Extraordinary Attorney Woo, and The Marked Heart.
All of Us Are Dead was one of the most watched Non-English shows on 2022’s list which a whopping 659,510,000 hours watched . And K-Dramas in general have done exceptionally well overall. However, 1899 failed to even claim a spot on the list. And considering the cost of production is extremely high for a show of its stature – complete with VFX and a new form of production technology – the mystery-thriller needed to become a raging success for its renewal.
Is the production cost of the show to blame?
The production cost of the show, according to reports, is roughly 60 million. On the other hand, Tim Burton’s Wednesday was made with approximately 30 million dollars and is by far more successful than the prior. It is charted as the second most-watched English show in 2022, right below Stranger Things with a 1,314,690,000 hours watched.
An article by Deadline stated that the show was filmed on a brand new, state-of-the-art ‘virtual production’. The sets, in short, could simulate a realistic backdrop that creates an illusion of shooting in the outdoors. And although it might have significantly reduced post-production costs, the production cost a pretty penny defeating the purpose. It is the most expensive television show ever made in Germany according to South China Morening Post, which goes to show it needed to do significantly well in order for it to be renewed.
Moderately good reviews
The sets of the show are no doubt stellar, however, the plot of the show wasn’t necessarily original. The science-fiction-survival show bears resemblance to West World, Lost and others. And although, gripping in parts with brilliant cinematography and a competent cast to keep itself afloat, the plot often meanders and the pacing as most critics complained is slow.
Lacks the grit that ‘Dark’ had
Unlike, 1899, the earlier show was a mind-bending, time-weaving one-of-a-kind expirence, that predominantly depended on its plot to tell that tale. And although mentally exhausting, it did not solely depend on its visuals to achieve that goal. Themes of existentialism, pathos and human suffering steered the series with the backdrop of a dystopic universe.
All the best science fiction stories are rooted in human suffering evident in films like Blade Runner 2049 is lacking in 1899. And unfortunately for the showrunners Dark is a difficult benchmark to overcame.
Good, but not good enough
Netflix did not give a reason for the show's cancellation. The backlash from the fans of the show, although strong, will die down soon. And much like James Cameron's Avatar 2’s potential success depends solely on the film raking in 2 billion dollars - 1899 renewal depended on it's commercial performance being pathbreaking which it perhaps, according to Netflix, it wasn't.