It’s only been three months since Woke season 2 arrived on Hulu, but it doesn’t appear that the live action-animated comedy did big enough numbers to justify a third. Deadline (opens in new tab) reports that the show, inspired by the life of artist Keith Knight, has been cancelled after just 16 episodes.
The show followed the life of Keef Knight, a Black cartoonist behind the deliberately light Toast & Butter comic. After being racially profiled by the police, a traumatized Knight discovers he can see and hear everyday objects talking to him, and channels his new understanding of societal injustice into his work.
Woke starred Lamorne Morris, Blake Anderson, T. Murph, Sasheer Zamata and JB Smoove, while Knight himself developed the show alongside Marshall Todd.
Although the Deadline report is light on detail, it seems extremely likely that the series simply didn’t generate the numbers required to justify a third season. And while shows on streaming platforms can (generally) be watched indefinitely, if a programme doesn’t do the numbers in its first few months, the hard truth is that it likely never will — barring a sudden interest from a viral TikTok or similar.
Indeed, a lack of interest seems especially likely when you look at Rotten Tomatoes. While the first season got a solid if unremarkable 74% fresh score (opens in new tab), the second season simply didn’t generate enough critic reviews to create a score. That’s a pity, as the audience score jumps from 76% for the first season to a massive 97% for the second (opens in new tab).
It really does emphasize the importance of making a great first impression in this brave new world of streaming.
Streaming can be brutal
As I’ve written before, while you obviously can’t afford to be sentimental when producing shows with multi-million-dollar budgets, there is an inherent risk in being seen as trigger happy when it comes to cancellations. After all, if you can’t be trusted to finish a story, why would anybody listen when you’re promoting your latest one?
Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks to a world where Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are in charge of finding the next big thing is that the sleeper hit doesn’t really exist any more. If a show doesn’t do the numbers, it’s dead — indeed, in 2022 alone, Netflix canceled shows are already into double figures.
That’s a huge pity, as some of the most beloved shows — especially comedies like Woke — take a while to find their voice. Would the likes of Seinfeld or The Office, both shows that suffered from low ratings in their early years, be given the chance to flourish by a streaming giant? Almost certainly not — and that's a major worry.