The ending of Archive 81 sets the viewer up nicely for a second season; as the camera pans out on an NYC skyline consisting of the Twin Towers in a sepia tone, we are left with a few answers but so many more questions. There HAS to be a second season to give us the MORE they are teasing, right? How long do we have to wait? A YEAR?
Then Netflix dropped the bomb (reported first by Deadline) that this captivating show that put a new and interesting spin on the “found footage” genre, and indulged the 90’s generation with their music and technology (HI8 anyone? VCRs?), was cancelled DESPITE being well received by critics AND audiences (it hit the Netflix Top 10 and had a brief stint in the number 1 spot before being bumped by the new season of Ozark). It just didn’t meet the budget to viewer ratio that Netflix applies to all their shows, regardless of genre (of which horror is NOT the most popular).
It is very disappointing to horror fans to see that Netflix judges the material they present by numbers only, and not by quality – how can a show like Archive 81 compete with the Bridgertons and Ozarks of their line-up? Netflix often cancels shows before they can air a final season; The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Santa Clarita Diet, and The OA, are part of a long list of supernatural/horror shows that fall into this unfortunate club.
Archive 81 easily had another season in it.
Based on a podcast, Archive 81 follows the story of Dan Turner, an archivist hired for an astounding amount of money to restore a series of videotapes damaged in a fire, recorded seemingly as a video project about a historic building by Melody Pendrast, a victim of the fire. As Dan’s story unfolds in the current time-line, so does Melody’s in 1994. Throughout their journeys we meet a plethora of Melody’s unusual neighbors, and very quickly realize there is something sinister afoot in both timelines. Read more about the story in this interview with star Mamoudou Athie who plays Dan Turner. The mystery that unfolds very stingily doles out answers, but leaves much unanswered in the season finale cliffhanger – and unless another network buys the show (Shudder, I’m looking at you!), we will never know the details we yearned for all season.
As a viewer, it is unendingly frustrating to continually invest time and energy in Netflix shows, only to be left without an ending. I am tempted to wait until I know a show will be continued through a planned finale than to watch before a second season has been confirmed – but that is problematic, because viewership is evaluated almost immediately. Many people like myself don’t hurry to watch a show in its initial season on a “bingeable” streaming platform because we are busy finishing other binges. I don’t know that Netflix accounts for this when analyzing viewer data. If they don’t, they should. I, for one, would be happy if they ever decide take into account that television is an artform, and if the critics and viewers are on the same page about the quality of the show, then that should be worth more than some budget to viewer ratio.
Horror fans, do you think Archive 81 deserves another season? Now is your chance to sound off in the comments section!