'Daybreak' cancellation reveals the limits of Netflix's endless streaming

It isn't the only show the platform cancelled after one season in 2019.


After only one season, the post-apocalyptic comedy series Daybreak is over at Netflix. It’s not the only show in 2019 to debut on the popular streaming service to have a short run before getting axed.

On Monday, Daybreak co-creator Aron Coleite shared a note confirming the cancellation of the adaptation of the comic book series by Brian Ralph. “We learned last week that Daybreak will not be returning for a second season,” wrote Coleite.

He added:

“We’re so sorry we couldn’t share it with you sooner but also so grateful that we got to hang out in these last few live tweet sessions with all of you. Thank you for picking up what we put down, for running with it in all of your amazing, weird, monstrous ways and for being such an important part of this show and our experience making it.”
“No one is as heartbroken as we are that we can’t share more of this ride with you. But we’re so grateful to have gotten to bring it this far. Thank you for riding with us, for your voices, your enthusiasm, your memes, your fart jokes, and your unashamed crazy. We’ll see you out there.”

Although Netflix isn’t shy about canceling shows, Daybreak is among the rare few axed after only one season. The adult animated comedy Tuca & Bertie and the supernatural horror Chambers both premiered in 2019 and were canceled shortly afterward. Meanwhile, the martial arts drama Wu Assassins, which premiered in August, exists in limbo (there is no official announcement by Netflix) but all signs suggest it’s unlikely to return.

Sivan Alyra Rose starred in the first and only season of 'Chambers,' a cult horror series canceled after just one season by Netflix.


It’s always safe to assume that a canceled show did not attract enough views from subscribers to warrant the cost of continued production. (That’s how shows were, and still are, canceled on cable and broadcast.) But all anyone can do is assume, because Netflix does not reveal its metrics. This leaves fans of canceled shows in the dark as to why exactly their favorite shows will not return.

This spate of shows getting canceled after a single season suggests there’s just too much out there. “Too much TV” isn’t a new observation; here’s Vanity Fair discussing the subject in 2015, here’s Deadspin (RIP) lampooning it in 2017, and here’s IndieWire in 2018. While there are economic pluses to having so many shows in production (lots of people get employed!), the actual financial viability of Peak TV is trickier than it seems.

With even more streaming platforms set to launch into the 2020s, the streaming bubble isn’t popping — yet. And there are probably a thousand reasons why Netflix prematurely ended shows like Daybreak and Tuca & Bertie beyond “No one watched them.” Still, the cracks of endless TV become more apparent when new shows vanish in a flash. It’s made worse when Netflix is regularly criticized for failing to promote any of its shows, forcing the survival of Netflix’s shows to rely on word of mouth and TV blogs.

Put another way: It feels like there are a ton of new shows premiering on Netflix every week, because there are. But the vast majority of subscribers will never watch them, because they get lost in the sauce. There’s always something new to watch, but at what cost?

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