Getting invested in a new television series is always a risky endeavor, especially when there's no way of knowing how long it will last. Will it run for many years? Or get abruptly axed after one season? It's the eternal question… so, will Netflix's Gypsy be renewed for Season 2? Should viewers develop an intimate relationship with the series, like the inappropriate bonds Naomi Watts' character forms with her patients? Or should viewers keep the show at arm's length, like the professional distance a therapist should maintain between herself and the people who sit on her couch?
It's an excellent question — and one that probably would have had a different answer just a couple of months ago. The process behind Netflix's renewal and cancellation decisions has always been opaque, given that the streaming service releases no ratings information; if you don't know how many people are watching a given show, it's nearly impossible to predict the likelihood of its return. Also, when a service relies on overall subscribers more than the number of people who watch a specific show, there are plenty of other factors to take into account as well — like critical acclaim, awards attention, and the involvement of high-profile names either on or behind the screen.
Netflix's obscure process aside, the streaming service has undeniably been generous with renewals for most of its history. In the years since Netflix first delved into original programming with House Of Cards in 2013, only three of its scripted shows have come to an end: Hemlock Grove, Marco Polo, and Bloodline. But something changed just last month when Netflix CEO Reed Hastings gave an eye-opening interview with CNBC. "Our hit ratio is way too high right now," Hastings said. "We've cancelled very few shows."
The CEO also threatened that he would be more liberal with the proverbial axe moving forward: "I'm always pushing the content team, we have to take more risks, you have to try more crazy things, because we should have a higher cancel rate overall." This competitive atmosphere leads to more "unbelievable winners" like 13 Reasons Why, Hastings claims… even while it simultaneously leads more shows to the chopping block.
Hasting wasn't kidding, either. In the four weeks since that interview, Netflix has cancelled as many shows as it had cancelled in the previous four years. Sense8, The Get Down, and Girlboss have all fallen victim to Netflix's new cutthroat way of doing business; the former after two acclaimed seasons, and the latter two after only getting one season to try to prove themselves.
So, will Gypsy be more Orange Is The New Black, or more Girlboss? On the one hand, it has plenty of the kind of pedigree that probably attracted Netflix to the series in the first place: two-time Oscar nominee Naomi Watts is probably the biggest star the service has landed for any of its shows outside House Of Cards' Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, and director/executive producer Sam Taylor-Johnson is famous for helming one of the most successful female-fronted tentpoles in recent history with 2015's Fifty Shades Of Grey.
But will that alone be enough to save it if ratings are low? Obviously, the public won't know how good the show is until they can judge it for themselves when it premieres on June 30; but advanced critical reaction has been… tepid at best. And unless Gypsy can overcome those reviews to build a Stranger Things-level of buzz, it may very well be the next show to fall under the blade of Netflix's increasingly merciless axe.