Wylan and Jesper in Shadow and Bone

Netflix’s ‘Shadow and Bone’ Decision Highlights an Alarming Pattern

Shadow and Bone is one of several shows that Netflix has now cancelled, as reported by Variety. The news comes a week after the end of the SAG-AFTRA strike and six weeks after the end of the WGA work stoppage, a signpost that networks and streaming platforms are continuing to evaluate the impact of the strike-related seven-month production shutdown.

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In the case of Shadow and Bone, it highlights a worrying trend among Netflix’s queer shows, with several popular LGBTQ+ titles getting cancelled just as their queer romances start to get steamy.

Shadow and Bone‘s Wylan and Jesper are an openly queer couple who only just came into their own at the close of the second season. The show left a clearly open door for their relationship to continue but, sadly, that won’t be possible. It also seems unlikely that we’ll see any of the potential Six of Crows spin-offs that were signposted as well, tamping down on the potential Grishaverse stories.

Actor Kit Young who plays Jesper has seemingly commiserated about the cancellation on Instagram, sharing a gif of the Crows to his Stories with ‘#NMNF’—referencing the quote “no mourners, no funerals” that the gang from the show said before going into battle.

The loss of Shadow and Bone is reminiscent of Netflix’s halting of other queer stories. First Kill, a lesbian vampire series, was also cancelled after just one season, Neil Patrick Harris’ Uncoupled was halted mid-production, Warrior Nun ended after only two seasons, and fan-favorite GLOW never got the chance to run its final season. The list truly does go on; we’re naming just a few here.

While it’s a tricky time to get any show made, the damage to queer shows is particularly evident. Rewarding relationships take time to build: in the case of Shadow and Bone, we had two seasons of ‘will they, won’t they’ between Alina and Mal, making their ultimate happy(ish) ending more satisfying. It took two seasons just for Wylan and Jesper to kiss, let alone form a meaningful bond.

It leaves queer shippers and watchers either fighting over scraps of affection that are dotted in the background of hetero shows (a la Shadow and Bone) or rushing through relationship milestones, with the clear fear of getting cancelled speeding up a relationship unnaturally. In the latter case, this often also results in cancellation because it doesn’t result in genuinely good writing.

In order to truly be able to have the same level of LGBTQ+ representation, TV shows need time to build romances up. In truth, there needs to be space for queer shows to simply be bad, in the same way that we have decades and decades of sub-par straight shows that slowly get better or simply take on cult status from how bad they are.

Can we honestly say that every season of The Vampire Diaries is top quality? Of course not. So let’s give First Kill and other queer shows like it the same timeline to work out its (many) kinks.

(featured image: Netflix)

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