Yesterday, Netflix announced it would be canceling Resident Evil after just one season, meaning there’s no season 2, and none of the multiple seasons featuring all of the other Resident Evil characters the showrunner said he had planned.
While Netflix has certainly built a reputation for canceling too many good shows too quickly, this is… not one of those times. Resident Evil was a bad, probably expensive show and its cancellation is both expected and justified.
Many viewing hours, a low budget, rave reviews. Pick two, and you might be on your way to renewal in a place like Netflix (emphasis on viewing hours). But you can’t have one. Resident Evil short topped the service’s charts, but dropped quickly as people didn’t finish the series or told others not to watch it.
It scored poorly among both critics and fans (it has some of the worst audience ratings I’ve ever seen for a Netflix show), which is an increasing rarity at a time when we usually disagree with them. Plus, with its zombies and monsters, Resident Evil probably seemed to have a pretty hefty budget, and that may have signed its death warrant more than anything else.
It was a bad show for Resident Evil fans and regular viewers alike. For RE fans, the show distorted the source material in truly bizarre ways, coming up with this brand new story about a demure Albert Wesker and his two daughters living in New Raccoon City. While Lance Reddick was trying his best as Wesker, the whole concept just didn’t work, and no one really understood why they’d strayed so far from the source material, while at the same time capturing little of the blockbuster that made the Milla Jovovitch movies surprising hits.
Nothing on the show worked, except for Reddick, from the script to the general concept. And yet there were big plans to work through the entire Resident Evil canon in future seasons, according to showrunner Andrew Dabb:
“Over the course of the series I want to bring in everything. Left to my own devices, I want Lady D, I want the plant monster, I want everything. I want everything, but judiciously [and] accounted for over time.”
The show ended on a cliffhanger, of course, with no past or present storylines resolved, and a tease that Ada Wong would be in Season 2. Now she won’t.
The process of customizing video games remains a very thorny prospect. It’s no longer a guaranteed disaster as we’ve made great strides with things like the Sonic movies and Arcane. But there is a wide range. Resident Evil is probably one end of the spectrum (the bad end). Paramount’s Halo is closer to the center. I’d expect HBO’s The Last of Us to actually be pretty good based on what we’ve seen and who’s making it.
So yes, sometimes Netflix cancellations make perfect sense. And for Resident Evil, this is one of those moments.
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