Perfect TV Shows That Were Cancelled Way Too Early
Some TV is just too perfect for this world...
TV’s second golden age is in full swing and everywhere you look you can find tv shows that exist in their intended entirety.
But for every Jane the Virgin and Mr Robot, there exists many a show murdered, cancelled, abandoned before its time. In this article, I pay my respects to the fallen, to the cancelled shows that I love and shall never forgive the TV overlords for cancelling.
Number one on this list and in my heart is 2013’s Selfie.
Starring Karen Gillan as vain hot millennial Eliza Dooley, and John Cho as workaholic dork Gen X-er Henry Higgs, Selfie was a sitcom update of My Fair Lady for millennials with a twist.
When Eliza enlists the help of uptight co-worker Henry to “rebrand” her into someone less conceited and dependant on social media, Henry finds he has a thing or two to learn about being more sociable and open too.
With a fantastic ensemble cast and premise that combined the best elements of the office sitcom, Selfie offered an optimistic criticism of both social media culture and those who are totally dismissive of it ahead of its time and killed too soon.
Before Fleabag blew us all away with its sex-crazed, fourth-wall breaking, nihilistic millennial protagonist, there was Chewing Gum.
The British series aired between 2015 and 2017, and followed Tracey, a devout religious, yet unspeakably horny Beyoncé-obsessed 24-year-old black woman, and her hilariously complex relationship with sexuality because of her faith.
Written by and starring, Michaela Coel, who also wrote and starred in the original one-woman play the series was based on (yes, the parallels to Fleabag are that uncanny), Coel captured the complex, rambunctious colourful lives of black womanhood and working-class Britain with wit and a lot of hysterical fourth wall breaks.
Netflix has all two seasons to binge right now.
Created by Ryan Griffen and starring Deborah Mailman, Rob Collins and Ian Glen, Cleverman is an action packed, Aussie dystopian-drama based on Aboriginal Dreaming, that began airing in 2016.
Set in a not-too distant Australia, an ancient race, known as the Hairypeople seek refuge among humans, causing political upheaval for Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples alike. Meanwhile, Koen, a young Indigenous man estranged from his culture is chosen as the next Cleverman, a powerful saviour with a duty to ensure peace, but how can he in a world so broken?
With its deadly cast and concept, and two critically acclaimed seasons under its belt, it’s somehow still unclear whether the series will get a third season.
In The Flesh
In a decade where zombie-tv was dominated from start to finish by The Walking Dead, In The Flesh was the gay undead coming-of-age drama many missed.
In the wake of an epidemic known as Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS), ex-dead teen Kieran returns home three years after killing himself, to resume his life again as undead. But with a sister in the zealous anti-zombie, Human Defence Force (HDF), that won’t be easy.
A thrillingly fresh, intelligent, occasionally tongue in cheek, show that dealt with homophobia, mental illness and PTSD through the lens of a quiet English town in the grips of a zombie pandemic, In The Flesh aired between 2013 and 2014 and was sorely mourned by fans when it was cancelled after two seasons.
Sadly, it has remained deceased since.
Vying for the weirdest, most niche series on this list is The OA.
A Netflix Original series created by and starring Britt Marling, as the enigmatic OA, a missing woman, who blind when she disappears, returns after seven years with her sight fully restored. Even hardcore fans struggle to explain the sci-fi, yet spiritual premise of the series that twists and turns through multiple universes, something that is best experienced rather than explained.
Starring Jason Isaacs, Ian Alexander, and Zendaya, you could label The OA as many things, but one could never say it wasn’t one of the most original and bonkers shows of the 10s, before its untimely cancellation at the beginning of 2019.
Before she was kicking ass as the new 007 in No Time To Die, Lashana Lynch starred alongside Australia’s own Wade Briggs (Please Like Me, Home and Away) in 2017’s Still Star-Crossed.
Still Star-Crossed is a one-series wonder that imagined what happened after the tragic events of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. With high drama, excellent romantic plots, the most fabulous costumes, assassinations, sabotage and secrets, Still Star-Crossed was a wild ride full of beautiful people for Shakespeare geeks that was, alas, cancelled after its first episode.
The real tragedy, if you ask me.
There is not a single person who has watched The Hour who is not haunted by its unjust cancellation.
The series starring Ben Whishaw, Anna Chancellor, and Peter Capaldi, was made by the BBC, and set during Cold War era Britain about a late-night show with radical views, desperately trying not to get cancelled…by the BBC.
Oh, the cruel indifferent irony! The Hour was mesmerising, with all the seedy noir-ish espionage of a spy thriller inside a newsroom drama, grappling with the rise of fascism, government censorship of the news, as well as the ethical risks of telling the truth.
Arguably, the series has only become more relevant, yet here we live, in an Hour-less world.
A too short and sweet series, Outland followed the ordinarily chaotic lives of five gay Aussie nerds, and their attempts to meet as a sci-fi fan club constantly thwarted by their hilariously queer shenanigans.
The show certainly had its issues (sadly, there was a black face gag), but it starred Christina Anu as Rae, a wheelchair-bound lesbian, and it was the first time I’d seen a gay Aboriginal woman on TV as a confident funny protagonist.
Eight years on from the 2012 series, there’s still a glaring absence of queer blak women in Australian media. Perhaps why I mourn the wholly silly series, despite its faults.
Pushing Daisies was a murder-mystery comedy with a dash of magical realism, about a pie maker called Ned,who can bring the dead back to life, and uses this ability to help his PI best friend solve murders.
The catch? Once he has brought them back, his next touch will permanently kill them, which becomes bittersweetly painful when Ned brings back his childhood sweetheart to solve her murder.
Created by Bryan Fuller (Hannibal), Pushing Daisies was a cheeky, but macabre Tim-Burton-esque world where everything was endearing and unsettling. It was a truly unique show with a fantastical cast that included Lee Pace and Kristen Chenoweth, but tragically met the fate of many of Fuller’s other projects and was cancelled on a cliff-hanger at the end of series 2.
And no, I am still not over it.
Tuca and Birdie
When one thinks of Netflix’s Tuca and Bertie, a perfectly reasonable question to ask is, why does Netflix not want us to have wholesome strange things?
I cannot articulate why Tuca and Bertie was incredible television any better than Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen in their Junkee review. All I can add is that, what kind of a television world is it where a critically loved series about two bird besties from the creative team that helped bless us with Bojack Horseman is cancelled?
This series that dealt quietly and charismatically with sexual harassment, dating, best friend breakups, and abusive family in a surreally comical bird universe, where almost everyone is voiced by icons of colour like Tiffany Haddish, Ali Wong and Steven Yeun. How is it that of all the timelines we could have existed in, we exist in the one where Tuca and Bertie was cancelled after ONE SEASON?
Netflix, call me, I just wanna talk.
Last, not least, but certainly one of the weirdest and most audacious is Utopia.
The 2013 UK series is about a group of strangers who met online, and are now being hunted by a mysterious group called ‘The Network’ after discovering a manuscript that predicted the climate and fertility crisis currently plaguing humanity.
Gory, intriguing, dark yet uncomfortably bright and vibrant in its cinematography and an instant cult hit for its harrowing relevance, Utopia was tragically cancelled after its second season in 2014, but there are rumours of a revival heading to Amazon Prime sometime soon, and so help me, the rumours better be true.
Rest in peace to these most under-appreciated and cancelled gems.
Merryana Salem is a Lebanese Indigenous Australian masquerading on most social media as @akajustmerry. She’s also a freelance critic and teacher with a podcast called GayV Club where she gushes about lgbt rep in film, but mostly she hopes you ate something nice today.