The Netflix Top 10 is a great way to find out what everyone else is watching, especially when it doesn’t involve popular Original shows. And the latest curious entry is actually a CW series that the network saw fit to cancel last month: Vampire Diaries spin-off Legacies.
Legacies was one of seven shows canceled by The CW in mid-May, and concluded its fourth (and final) season on June 16. However, it has now hit the number 5 slot in Netflix’s top 10 list, joining the likes of Umbrella Academy season 3, the continually dominating Stranger Things 4 and the bizarre Snowflake Mountain.
What is Legacies?
Legacies is a spin-off from The CW’s The Originals, which lasted five seasons from 2013 to 2018. The Originals itself is a spin-off from The Vampire Diaries, which ran for eight seasons from 2009 to 2017.
Legacies is set two years after the events of The Originals, and focuses on Hope Mikaelson (Danielle Rose Russell) — daughter of Klaus Mikaelson and Hayley Marshall. All three characters played key roles in The Originals.
The show follows the now-17-year-old Hope as she attends the Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted. If that reminds you of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, home of Marvel’s X-Men, then there's good reason for that — because Salvatore is a haven where supernatural beings can learn to control their abilities and “impulses”. Hope herself is unique, in that she’s the first “Tribid,” with vampire, werewolf and witch ancestry.
The show also features Alaric Saltzman (Matt Davis), who first appeared in Vampire Diaries, described as a cross between Professor X and Dumbledore. Among Hope's fellow students are Saltzman's twin daughters Josie and Jenny (Kaylee Bryant and Jenny Boyd), both witches, plus recently triggered werewolf Rafael (Peyton Alex Smith) and his foster brother Landon (Aria Shahghasemi) — who is seemingly human, but bizarrely resilient to vampire powers.
Of course, this not being an ordinary school, all those characters come into conflict with other supernatural enemies. Nothing is ever simple at high school, especially not when you’re on The CW — magic powers or not.
What do critics think of Legacies?
Legacies doesn’t have a critic score over on Rotten Tomatoes, on account of there not being enough ratings to generate one. However, it does have an 80% audience score (opens in new tab) and has a 7.3/10 rating in IMDb (opens in new tab). Those figures, combined with its recent success on Netflix, suggests that it's a hit with audiences — albeit not in big enough numbers to save it from the axe.
Back in 2018, The Hollywood Reporter’s (opens in new tab) Daniel Fienberg declared that the show was “an occasionally amusing version of Hogwarts.” Fienberg noted that a spin-off of a spin-off is basically “critic irrelevant,” but concluded that the show wasn’t good enough to recommend for new viewers starting from scratch.
Other professional reviews appear to be few and far between, especially for the most recent season. Perhaps that helps proves Fienberg’s original point, and may go some way to explaining its cancellation.
What does this mean for Legacies’ future?
The thing about Legacies’ cancellation is that it came at a really odd moment. The CW canceled six other shows at the same time, not including the canceled DC TV Shows like Batwoman and Legends of Tomorrow earlier this year.
That meant there were more cancellations than renewals, a first for the network. It has been suggested that The CW is essentially cleaning house in advance of a possible sale — although this remains no more than a rumor. However, it’s unclear whether other factors, like viewing figures, played any role in the cancellations.
Legacies clearly has some love from fans, and they have launched campaigns to try to save the show from its early death. A Change.org petition (opens in new tab) about the cancellation has just over 38,000 signatures, which isn’t a huge amount, but the new-found popularity of the show on Netflix may push hardcore fans to appeal to the streaming service to commission a new season.
However, Netflix tends not to make a habit of saving old shows these days, so I wouldn’t hold my breathe on it picking up Legacies season 5. In which case, this will be probably be the last hurrah for the show.
Outlook: Should you watch Legacies?
The problem with a spin-off is that they usually rely too heavily on their predecessor, and that can go some way to explaining why they fail. Typically, the best ones stand on their own two feet right away, much like how Frasier can be enjoyed without having to sit through all 11 seasons of Cheers first.
Being a spin-off of a spin-off, Legacies has the trouble of following 13 seasons of pre-existing television. That puts viewers in a sticky spot when it comes to knowing what’s going on and what this world is — which is also a problem shared by the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
If you like teen drama, Harry Potter-inspired settings, and the high school setting, then Legacies may be worth checking out. And that's particularly true if you’ve seen both The Vampire Diaries and The Originals. And if you haven't, then it's worth knowing that both of those shows are available in their entirety on Netflix too, in case you need some new binge-watching material.