What happens to an avid fan when their favorite show gets canceled? Well, a lot of things. For some fans, it’s a sign to move on. It doesn’t hit them very hard and they can say, “Well, it had a good run and this is unfortunate, but oh well.” It’s just another show to them. Us, in fandom world, call those fans ‘causal fans’. Then there are the hardcore stans. These are the fans with social media accounts dedicated to these shows. They spend thousands of dollars on traveling and going to conventions. They spend nights camping outside of buildings just for a glimpse of one of the actors. I should know, I’m one of these types of fans. I’ve traveled to see people I love from TV. I flew to England for ten days. I flew to New York for a week. I’ve met most of the actors I admire from the shows I watch because I sit outside of a building for twelve hours in the ungodly heat just for thirty seconds with them to tell them what they’ve done for me.
I haven’t been a part of this type of fandom long enough to really have many shows canceled on me. That, or I watch shows that just don’t get canceled, which is actually quite accurate. Most of my favorite TV shows are still running. But I’ve had my share of cancelations.
When I start to watch a show, I tend to get attached. Heavily, emotionally, attached. I find myself in characters and can’t seem to let them go. This happened many years ago when I started watching Glee. I found a little of myself in each of those characters. I knew that the show was going to end when I started watching it, but when that series finale came I was a wreck. After the finale aired, I cried in my bed for at least four hours. I felt like something had been ripped from my chest. I felt totally and completely empty. I honestly didn’t know what to do. So, I gripped my pillow and sobbed. I found myself in that show. I found my passion within those characters. I wasn’t ready to let it go and I knew it was coming.
Now for those who were blindsided? It’s so much worse. When shows are doing poorly the fans know. Believe me. They check the ratings every single week to see if things have gotten better. They schedule times to get a trending topic on Twitter. They do whatever they can to keep people interested. Sometimes, it’s just not enough. And sometimes even the highest rated shows that have a huge social media presence are canceled because of funding. And the fans and the cast and crew are blindsided. Even when the show was gearing up to announce the next season and then out of nowhere the funding falls out. It devastates fans. It makes them feel like something had been personally taken from them. People may try to say it’s not personal, but it is for them.
Television shows bring people happiness. Shows can bring people out of depressions and create more mental stability. They create bonds between fans that are unbreaking. I can’t even say how many friends I have made because of some TV show. Even recently, I just made several standing outside of a building waiting to see an actor from our favorite show, a show that got canceled and prompted this piece. I bonded with them over this common interest and we’ve become friends. And I don’t make friends easily. Without fandom, I probably wouldn’t have many friends. This way, I have people all over the world to talk to, who listen to me, who help me through the rough patches in my life. I love these friends because I know they’re there for me.
“All the friends I met through this show all the mutuals, I literally talk to every single day. It’s been so much more. Over 2 years of my life. #SaveShadhowhunters” - @bramsbane (Twitter)
And when shows with incredible representation get canceled, the fans take action. They start campaigns. The start petitions and Twitter hashtags to get noticed by networks. And they don’t back down easily. Or ever. They fight like their lives depend on it. And for some, it may. I’ve heard people say that fans get too attached to TV shows and put too much, emotionally, into it, but for those people that show may be all they have. We don’t know their lives and this may be the only joy they have. The show could be the only place where they see themselves. And having that is important for not only young minds, but the minds of other generations just finding themselves and needing something to cling onto. It means more than just something to watch with a glass of wine on Monday night.
So here’s my plea. I just lost a show that has taught me things and brought me friends. A show that had high ratings. A show that trended every week on Twitter and Tumblr. A show that broke molds and brought POC and LGBT+ to the forefront. A show that won a Glaad award. I feel empty inside all over again. I want this show back and there’s still 12 episodes yet to air. My heart stopped when I saw this news and then it shattered. I’ve met so many people through this show and found so much of myself while watching. I hurt knowing it's not coming back. Physical pain went through my entire body after reading.
I know that shows being canceled are hard on the fans. It hurts them to see their favorite characters disappear. I know many shows also get canceled for legitimate reasons. No funding. Bad ratings. Racist lead actors. But when a show has good ratings and could easily have the funding, it getting canceled breaks not just the hearts of the workers on said show, but the millions of fan hearts as well.