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It's a strange time in Hollywood, as film and TV productions put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring are beginning to search for a path forward even as the virus remains a threat. Up until a few days ago, Netflix's The Society was one of those shows.
The series — which follows a group of teens attempting to build a community after they are mysteriously transplanted into a deserted version of their Connecticut town without any connection to the outside world — was originally supposed to ramp up production on its second season in the spring, before it was paused by the pandemic.
Then, just as the production team was beginning to bring the show back from dormancy in the hopes that Season 2 could be made this fall, Netflix pulled the plug. The Society went from on the verge of Season 2 to cancelled just like that, but according to creator Chris Keyser, he's not ready to give up on the series just yet.
In an interview with Deadline, Keyser explained that the cancellation — which came down last Friday along with the cancellation order for fellow teen genre drama I Am Not Okay With This — was abrupt even for him, particularly since the production was just beginning to reawaken.
“This was a very tough cancellation,” he said. “We were, for the second time this year, getting ready to go back into production. Everyone had waited so long for this moment — for the chance to be together again. Saying goodbye so abruptly was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in all my years making shows. We knew we had challenges stemming from the pandemic, but the final decision to cancel us was not something I expected.”
The unexpected news hit those connected to The Society particularly hard. In a video posted to her Instagram, star Kathryn Newton said she was "heartbroken" by the cancellation, and fans of the series took to social media to express their sadness. They also took action, creating the hashtag #savethesociety to express their desire to see the show resurrected. There's even a petition calling for the show's renewal that, as of this writing, has garnered more than 60,000 signatures.
The fervor over the series' fate is inspired, in part, by the cliffhanger ending that came at the end of the first season. While much of Season 1 revolves around the teens of "New Ham" as they're cut off from the rest of the world, the finale gave us a glimpse of the real town they originally came from, West Ham, where their parents still mourn a whole town's worth of missing kids. While Season 1 ended with a big question mark, Keyser noted that Season 2 would have set the stage for a lot of answers.
“As for this next season, there were more answers to the question, why were the children of New Ham taken and how might they find their way home,” he said. “And, triggered by an event that has (quite by accident) eerie parallels to the current crisis, the citizens of New Ham would have found themselves spiraling toward war with each other. This is Lord of the Flies, after all. But there was also love — new and old relationships — and some hope that in the same way as we are struggling to do in this country, right now, there is a path out of the darkness we’re in and toward something better.”
So, could Season 2 ever happen? Keyser notes that the scripts are all already written and ready to go. It would just be a matter of finding an outlet for them, though whether that would be Netflix or another venue is tough to say right now. Still, Keyser doesn't sound ready to give up on the future of the series.
“I’d love to share the continuing story of New Ham at some point,” he said. “All the scripts were written, so we know it all. We have fifteen characters in search of — I guess — not so much an author as an audience. I’ll need some time to figure that out — talk to Netflix about it — but that would be the plan."