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Netflix is finally doing the right thing and ending one of its most controversial shows ever

Published Apr 18th, 2024 5:43PM EDT
The Witcher on Netflix
Image: Susan Allnutt/Netflix

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Netflix announcing the end of its beleaguered fantasy series The Witcher after its upcoming fifth season reminds me of an old Jerry Seinfeld bit from one of his comedy specials. I can’t actually remember which special this is from, but for some reason, I always remembered the bit itself; basically, Jerry is talking to someone about the silliness of ordering, say, a slice of apple pie in a restaurant — and then, after the waiter lets him know that they’re actually out of pie, Jerry responds with a completely unnecessary: “You know what? Cancel the pie.”

That kind of feels like what the streaming giant is doing by finally pulling the plug on The Witcher, after years of pissing off fans by deviating from the show’s source material and running off Henry Cavill. It’s like canceling your order of pie in a restaurant that doesn’t actually have any. You’re pretending to exert some measure of control when the result was already decided for you.

I’ve never been among the very passionate and extremely vocal devotees of The Witcher (neither the show, nor the books), simply because fantasy as a genre doesn’t interest me all that much. Having said that, I can only shake my head at Netflix’s announcement that planning is underway for the show’s fifth season, which will be its last.

The Witcher on Netflix
Henry Cavill, Freya Allan, and Anya Chalotra in The Witcher. Image source: Netflix

Both the streamer and the team behind The Witcher have always tried to spin the weirdest details about this show in a super-positive light, up to and including the latest announcement. There’s not a small amount of Trump-ian hyperbole, for example, in today’s announcement that the fifth and final season will bring “this epic show to a fitting conclusion.”

Needless to say, that is just not a statement that any reasonable person would make to a hardcore Witcher fan with a straight face (“That sh*t ended after season one,” a Reddit commenter wrote in disgust earlier today). Moreover, that statement also belies the fact that people involved with the show were once talking about a seven-season arc. So much for that.

The obliviousness in that statement reminds me of when a Witcher producer told a journalist that the show’s writers — who’ve been accused of being everything from too woke to just, well, bad writershad to make deviations from Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher books. Because the show would have been “too complicated” for Americans, otherwise. I know one thing that’s not too complicated to understand, though; all of the problems herein made that ridiculous Witcher prequel spinoff, Blood Origin, somehow even worse than the OG show (it’s still got atrocious critics and audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes, 28% and 13%, respectively).

I interviewed The Witcher showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich a few years ago, before all of the problems with the show had become apparent. Looking back at her comments now, one of the things that stands out to me is the degree to which she had changes to the source material in mind from the very beginning.

It reminds me of something that The Office actor Brian Baumgartner once told me, that “a million things have to go right” when you’re making a TV show. That’s true, but it also goes without saying you should (get this!) actually love the material you’re trying to adapt into a TV show. Rather than putting a ribbon around your own mediocrity and pretending you’ve just given fans a gift while cashing those sweet checks from Netflix.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.