Will 'Rebellion' Return For Season 2? The Historical Drama Faces An Uncertain Future
One of Ireland's most significant historical events, the Easter Rising, is depicted in the TV series Rebellion, which concludes its five-episode run on Sundance on April 26. Although this was the first viewing opportunity for American audiences, the series was produced by Irish broadcast network RTE, where it aired in January to mixed reviews — so showrunners and executives have had some time to assess whether or not Rebellion will return for Season 2. Although showrunners initially planned on bringing the series back for a second season (and even began making plans for the plot), negative feedback from Irish critics and audiences has left the future of the show uncertain.
Prior to Rebellion's January premiere on RTE, Goss.ie reported that Season 2 was already in development. According to the outlet, scripts for new episodes had been written even though there was no guarantee of renewal and the series' future depended largely on ratings. The series started off on the right foot — Herald.ie reported that 619,000 viewers tuned in for the premiere and viewership was up to 646,800 by the second episode. But, ratings and reviews both went downhill quickly — The Independent reported that episode one received positive reviews, but by episode two critics were unimpressed by everything from the historical inaccuracies to the quality of the writing.
Viewers seemed to lose interest as well. By the time the season finale aired on Jan. 31, Herald.ie reported that Rebellion's ratings had dropped to an all-time low of 463,000 viewers. And, in a stroke of bad luck, a technical glitch resulted in the prominent onscreen display of a distracting Six Nations rugby ad throughout most of the episode. (Viewers took to Twitter to express their annoyance.) But, glitch aside, it seems like a bad sign that people didn't turn on the TV to see how Rebellion's short season would resolve itself.
All of this sounds grim, but RTE has stopped short of saying it's curtains for Rebellion. In fact, Herald.ie also reported that the network's managing director, Glen Killane, said he was "unconcerned" by the ratings drop and was even quick to point out that Rebellion had achieved what they wanted: "It was an attempt by RTE to get back into that space of period drama which we haven't done since Strumpet City, so it was a big step for us." You're not alone if you're wondering "what the heck is Strumpet City?" The historical miniseries aired on RTE in 1980, so it's been nearly four decades since the network has tried its hand at a period drama.
The premiere of Rebellion received positive critical feedback and brought viewers back for episode two, so it seems like the show has potential to learn from its Season 1 mistakes and come back with a stronger Season 2. The challenge, of course, will be to regain the interest of viewers — but it sounds like RTE hasn't given up on Rebellion just yet.
Images: SundanceTV (2)