As the top-rated drama series in FX history, Sons of Anarchy was always going to be a difficult act to follow. But quite how difficult has been put into perspective today, with series creator Kurt Sutter announcing plans to pull the plug on his episodic follow-up The Bastard Executioner after only one season.
Deciding to call time on the period drama after last night’s season finale, the showrunner revealed that his new series was struggling to pull in the numbers, and even though Sutter believes that The Bastard Executioner demanded “an acquired taste,” its meagre audience can’t justify a renewal at FX. “I don’t want to write something that nobody’s f—ing watching,” he said.
Conjuring up a mythic interpretation of the Wales of the 14th Century, FX’s ambitious series had pulled together a stern cast and crew for the gig, and Sutter revealed that despite flailing ratings and viewing numbers, all involved remained fully committed to the vision at hand. In the words of the showrunner himself, that makes today’s formal decision a “heartbreaking one.”
“The numbers just didn’t sustain the cost of the show, quite frankly,” Sutter said. “It’s all math at the end of the day. We couldn’t establish that core audience that allows you to figure out your advertising paradigm and whether or not the show is affordable.”
“I love this cast and crew so much,” Sutter said. “They’re primarily British actors. They have a different mentality about the work. They’re not plugged into the numbers or worried about ‘Do I have a job?’ They’re so used to be journeymen. They were there to do the work. By the finale the whole cast and crew had bonded and everyone was so excited about this show and the mythology. And by that time I already knew it wasn’t coming back. It was heartbreaking for me.”
In the wake of last night’s season – and now series – finale, The Bastard Executioner will lay down the sword after a brief time on the airwaves. But do you believe Kurt Sutter’s period drama was hard done by?