'Away' Will Not Return For a Season Two After a Surprising Cancellation By Netflix

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Photo credit: Elaine Chung
Photo credit: Elaine Chung

From Esquire

Throughout the entire nail-biting first season of Netflix’s Away, I kept thinking to myself, “If this show ends without telling us whether or not Hilary Swank safely landed on Mars, I’m going to blast someone out of the airlock.” Fortunately for all of us dreading a cliffhanger ending, Swank’s Commander Emma Green and her cohort of intrepid astronauts made it to the Red Planet safe and sound, but Netflix did us even dirtier with an ending that begs a different question: now what?

We left the crew of the Atlas just moments after they touched down on Mars, with the entirety of their 18-month stay on the Red Planet stretching out before them. Much to the shock and disappointment of fans around the world, we'll never find out what happens next, as Netflix has declined to renew the show for a second season. Struggling to make sense of why Netflix would cancel such a popular show? We are too, but we have a few theories as to why Away was axed.

Is Netflix Renewing Away For Season Two?

Netflix has cancelled Away after just one season. The announcement came down about six weeks after the show debuted on Netflix, right on the schedule that showrunner Jessica Goldberg told Esquire she expected to receive the news.

Why was Away Cancelled?

After it landed on Netflix on September 4th, Away rocketed into Netflix’s top ten lineup, even earning the coveted “#1 on Netflix” spot. Away spent several weeks in the top 10 Nielsen streaming rankings, peaking at #2 for its first full week of release. The show’s immediate popularity suggested a speedy renewal, yet we have a few theories as to why Away fell under the axe.

Away reportedly cost Netflix over $6 million per episode, making it one of the most expensive Netflix shows of all time. Certainly those big-budget special effects (fireball in space, anyone?) take time and money to produce—perhaps more than Netflix was willing to spend.

It's also possible that the continued logistical challenge of film and television production amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic proved too cumbersome for Away. Though Goldberg told Esquire that the cast members portraying the crew of the Atlas could quarantine together, she feared that shooting crowded and loud scenes in Johnson Space Center wouldn't be possible. Though Netflix has returned to production with a strict COVID-19 safety protocol in place, the situation remains complicated, with Netflix commenting, "Current infection trends create more uncertainty for our productions in the US."

Away isn't the first popular Netflix show to suffer a shocking cancellation. In recent months, Netflix has cancelled fan favorites including but not limited to GLOW, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Dead to Me, Ozark, Altered Carbon, Teenage Bounty Hunters, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, The Society, and I Am Not Okay With This. Away's cancellation arrives as Netflix faces harsh blowback from fans, who have accused the streamer of cancelling primarily shows starring and created by women and queer creatives. With a female showrunner and a female lead, it's possible that Away is part of this disappointing trend.

What Are We Missing Out On in Season Two?

In cancelling Away, Netflix is losing is a deeply humanist show about personal sacrifice and the universal ties that bind us across cultures—not a garden variety sci-fi fantasy. Season One of Away was heavily steeped in ideas about globalism and international collaboration, with the world’s five leading space agencies teaming up and pooling their considerable resources to ferry their finest astronauts and scientists to Mars. There was little discussion of private sector space exploration, which dominates much of our conversation about sending mankind into space, yet Goldberg teased that this would change in a hypothetical Season Two. What a shame that we'll never see Goldberg's creative ambitions for Season Two realized, which she shared with Esquire:

"We're more interested in that cross section of the private sector with space travel. That’s something we’re turning over in the writer’s room: what happens if something with monetary value is found on Mars, meaning that this is no longer a purely scientific journey? We haven’t looked at the military because the show posits this other world in which the world came together to support the Atlas Mission. If we twist it in season two, it'll be interesting to watch nationalism come into the picture, because in a way, the journey is about eliminating those borders."

All creative losses aside, perhaps the greatest tragedy of Away's cancellation is that Netflix is losing a show that resonated deeply with fans from many walks of life. According to Goldberg, fans in India and China found it powerful to see characters from their cultures fully inhabited rather than stereotyped, as they too often are. She shared a moving story about the show's reception in Ghana, telling Esquire, "Ato [Essandoh], who plays Kwesi, is from Ghana, and he said the response was overwhelming. People said, 'I can't believe I'm hearing my language, the Fante language, spoken on an American television show.' People in Ghana couldn’t believe it. This was a country that had never heard its language on television before, and they're just so thrilled. It was very special."

Photo credit: DIYAH PERA/NETFLIX
Photo credit: DIYAH PERA/NETFLIX

Away has also resonated powerfully with people with disabilities, with Goldberg commenting that wheelchair users reached out to her to inquire about the brand of wheelchair used by Emma's husband, Matt, who suffers from CCM. Those afflicted with CCM saw their struggles realized in Away, with support groups contacting Goldberg to express how affected they were by Matt's journey. How sad it is to see Netflix axe a show that resonates so meaningfully with different cultures and communities around the world.

What will the crew of the Atlas discover on Mars? Will the involvement of the private sector lead to a commercial space race? We may never know—unless Away is saved by another streamer or network, as was the case with other Netflix cast-offs like One Day at a Time or Tuca and Bertie. Here's hoping that Netflix's trash becomes another network's treasure.

You Might Also Like