One of the Best-Rated, Most-Watched Shows on TV Got Cancelled—What Happened? (v2.0)

Hi, everyone!!! The Collider article’s title asks “what happened” and then doesn't tell us what happened. But don't worry! I can explain why the hit show EVIL was canceled (and I didn't even have to be a tv insider to figure it out)!

(I felt pretty goofy typing all this out, because it’s all stuff I assume everyone knows. But maybe it’s not that obvious after all, “which would be by design,” my spouse suggested. —j)


The streaming platform Paramount+ has a great catalogue. They know it, and I know it. The first time I signed up for Paramount+, my intention was to watch every vintage episode of MacGyver.

But from the jump, the standalone streaming app was a miserable experience for me, the end user: unstable, poorly supported, borked. At some point I angrily uninstalled the app and ragequit our subscription. I think I even left a salty review in the App Store and, judging by all the other salty reviews, my opinion was just one of consensus. (This is to say nothing of 'app fatigue'; who wants to install an individual app for every channel?)


The first season of EVIL received buzz, acclaim, notoriety. It aired on 'network tv' (i.e. technically free to watch, if you still have an antenna). CBS, the network where EVIL's first season aired, is owned by Paramount. Because EVIL is so adored, Paramount made an abrupt decision to move the show (which AFAIK already had its second season in the can) to Paramount+. There, it would be a 'platform exclusive,' a dangling carrot luring fans into Paramount's walled garden.

And it worked! Sighing, aggravated, feeling spineless, I resubscribed to Paramount+ so I could keep streaming the very enjoyable show.

More than once, though, we would open the app to watch something, and what streamed instead was a blank black screen. (I think this sometimes happens when a show is initially uploaded in the wrong video format??) It wasn't long before my spouse and I realized that it is a lot better to watch Paramount+ via Apple TV+ (or as a Prime add-on channel, say). That's because Apple has accrued many years’ experience at building an infrastructure for streaming media and, also, a whole lot of money that can be devoted to the task.

By the time Paramount+ also realized that leaving infrastructure to the Experts was the way to go, the standalone streaming platform had already sunk infinity dollars into the whorling black hole that is the false promise of streaming success. (I don't need insider knowledge to know that's exactly how Paramount was spending its money; the fact that I never once saw EVIL advertised anywhere is how I brilliantly deduced this. Please give your marketing team a usable budget!)


Now, if you know a little something about the videogame industry, you know 'platform exclusives' do exist—they exist to sell consoles to platform-agnostic players—but after a little while the exclusivity agreement might expire, and then the studio might get to launch their title on other systems. This is a great way for everyone to get to play a critically-acclaimed game!

By the time the first two seasons of EVIL had managed to make their way over to Netflix, Paramount had already canceled the series. Surprise!!!! This was the first time the average tv viewer had ever even heard of EVIL, because Netflix does a better job of effortlessly surfacing and promoting tv than Paramount's platform could ever possibly.

Collider repeats sources' outrageous claim (via Deadline) that EVIL was canceled because one of its leads purportedly needed to take a sudden leave. (Katja Herbers gently clarifies on Xitter—I'll paraphrase it for you—”yes they mean me, yes my dad passed away, no that isn't why we were canceled.“)


The real reason for cancellation is not a secret: EVIL is likely one of Paramount+'s more expensive outings. For years Paramount has drained more financial resources into its terrible app than it has into advertising its own shows. Last month, Vulture published an article (”It’s the End of Paramount+ As We’ve Known It”) about Paramount's decision to pivot from its years-long “just pour more water into the sinking ship” strategy:

While they didn’t go into any details of what such a joint venture would entail, both history and common sense suggest an outcome where Paramount+ either becomes a tile on another service, or [whatever else].

Paramount was scrambling to slash costs in order to make their offers look more attractive—effectively throwing people overboard while shouting “see? we're a light load!” at passing rescue boats. After failing to “sell off pieces of Paramount’s extensive media portfolio” in “recent years” (CNN), Paramount merged with Skydance yesterday (July 8, 2024).

I think what's most infuriating is how many tech ventures, streaming services included, have no real desire to ever actually 'become profitable'; it's just another way to scoot money around, harming everyone in the process except, like, four to six guys in a room. I'm sure a lot of people tried and worked really hard to make Paramount+ a success, but it's a losing battle against those four guys.

I'm sure someone became very rich today.