At this point, Netflix has become the Google of streaming services—its prevalence in modern culture transformed the streamer into a colloquial verb. As a noun, though, it still refers to a specific business, one with a sizable, increasingly conspicuous graveyard of canceled projects haunting its listings. Now, the streamer’s tendency to axe shows early has brought us to a new frontier in the streaming era: devoted fans banding together and watching episodes over and over again to pump up a show’s numbers in the hopes of keeping their beloved series alive.
Following the release of the show’s second season in mid-March, folks on the r/ShadowandBone subreddit, which has over 24,000 members, hosted nightly watch parties of the Netflix series in an effort to bolster its numbers so that it will, they hope, get renewed for a third season, Rolling Stone reports. Shadow and Bone, which first premiered in 2021, is a fantasy drama based on Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse books that follow the story of Alina Starkov, an orphan with magical powers destined to prevent the end of the universe. Understandably, Grishaverse fans want to prevent Netflix from prematurely ending the series in its second season, as it is wont to do.
According to Rolling Stone’s report, fans made use of a watch party website called Telepathy to host nightly viewing parties for Shadow and Bone Season 2, sometimes watching the same episodes five times a week in an attempt to maintain the series’ number 2 spot on Netflix’s list of most-watched TV shows. At least some of the motivation for this grind was generated by a tweet from “Netflix insider” Michael Scully (who’s currently picketing with his colleagues in the Writer’s Guild of America strike) in which he stated that the show’s future is dependent on how many views its second season received in its first 28 days on Netflix.
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A Shadow and Bone viewer named Holly told Rolling Stone that she’d rewatched the series at least 60 times to help boost its Netflix streaming numbers.
“I’ve not been in any fandoms of ongoing shows before. I’ve always joined things after they finish. But this time, it’s new for me and it’s scary since Netflix in particular is quite keen on canceling things before they really have a chance to shine,” Holly told Rolling Stone. “But the writers and showrunners and everyone wants this as much as we do. And it really makes you feel more connected to the show. Like they’re not giving up on it, we shouldn’t give up on it.”
While the fan campaign for Netflix’s Sense8, the Wachowskis’ canceled LGBTQ sci-fi thriller series and all-around great show, resulted in the streamer releasing a movie that wrapped up its storylines (albeit in a rushed and unsatisfying manner), other Netflix shows haven’t been so lucky. In the recent past, promising sci-fi Netflix shows like First Kill, Warrior Nun, and Inside Job were all canceled in their second seasons despite the die-hard fandoms each show accumulated.
While is too early to tell whether the Shadow and Bone fandom’s efforts will yield fruitful results in the show receiving a third season, it is heartwarming to see that fandoms from other Netflix shows like Lockwood & Co. are pitching in to help boost the show’s visibility online by sharing hashtags like #SOCspinoff and #SixOfCrowsSpinoff in solidarity with the Grishaverse fandom’s cause. Crabs in a barrel these hearty Netflix fandoms are not.