As a global pandemic rages, it often feels like we’re in a dystopian parallel universe, and wouldn’t it be nice to try to get back to our original timeline where everything is okay. On Netflix’s The Society, that’s exactly what the characters are dealing with. In the series, a group of teens one day find themselves displaced from their town of West Ham, Connecticut, into a parallel town that looks exactly the same, but everyone else is gone, and the town is cut off from the rest of the world by wilderness. Season 1 saw the teens try to create their own society, dubbed as New Ham, with a government, and laws, in a very Lord of the Flies-inspired fashion.
After season 1 dropped in May 2019, Netflix renewed the popular series in July 2019, but when the series was supposed to go back to shooting in March 2020, the coronavirus shutdown happened, and the series was put on hold. While the series was reportedly going to resume shooting on September 20, Netflix decided to pivot to a different call and canceled the series. As budgets rise to implement COVID-19 prevention protocols, we’ll likely, unfortunately, be seeing more of these decisions. Adding to the difficulty of going back to set during a pandemic is that The Society, in particular, has a large ensemble cast.
The Society was not the only series canceled by Netflix over coronavirus concerns, however, as the streamer also pulled the plug on I Am Not Okay With This. While I Am Not Okay With This had not been officially announced to be renewed for a second season, it had been internally agreed to, and scripts for the new season were already underway.
“We’ve made the difficult decision not to move forward with second seasons of The Society and I Am Not Okay With This,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement. “We’re disappointed to have to make these decisions due to circumstances created by COVID, and we are grateful to these creators, including: Jonathan Entwistle, Christy Hall, Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Dan Cohen and Josh Barry at 21 Laps Entertainment for I Am Not Okay With This; Chris Keyser, Marc Webb and Pavlina Hatoupis for The Society; and all the writers, casts and crews who worked tirelessly to make these shows for our members around the world.”
What’s difficult about the Kathryn Newton (Big Little Lies)-starring series getting canceled is that season 1 ended on such a huge cliffhanger. (As much I’m upset about Hulu cancelling High Fidelity, at least season 1 of that show is a relatively self-contained storyline.) At the end of season 1 of The Society, a coup had been enacted against the mostly-stable leadership of Allie (Newton), and Harry (Alex Fitzalan) and Lexie (Grace Victoria Cox) stepped into her place. The coup was masterminded by dangerous psychopath Campbell (Toby Wallace). As Allie and her right hand, Will (Jacques Colimon), are being led away, however, the group that had been sent on an expedition to find farmland, led by fan-favorite sweetheart Grizz (Jack Mulhern), return just in time to see the chaos that has erupted in their absence.
As we stress about what became of Allie and co. however, there’s also that last scene that gives us a little hint as to what became of the teens. As speculated by The Committee for Going Home, the final scene of season 1 confirmed that the kids really are in an alternate universe, as we see the community of West Ham, much as it always was, but with a large plaque with the names of all the missing children. So we know for sure now that the teenagers had been moved to a new universe, rather than everyone else disappearing. Why and how they have been moved though, we’ll now most likely never get answers on, especially for how they were going to get home. According to statements made by the series creator Christopher Keyser to Variety, however, there was a plan for all of this.
“I would like the characters not to end up as the children of New Ham — to have disappeared suddenly, abruptly, never to be seen again,” said Keyser, implying that the kids would one day manage to return home, and that there would be some sort of resolve. To complete his vision for the series, Keyser planned for the show to go for five seasons, although admitted that it’s unlikely these days for Netflix series to go for more than three or four seasons.
As for season 2, however, he revealed certain details about what it would have explored. That farmland that was discovered at the end of season 1 would have become known as the Outpost, and it would have been part of the central conflict of season 2, as the town and the Outpost eventually struggle for control. Season 2 also would have given some more answers on the show’s bigger questions of how the teens got to where they are and how they’re going to get back.
As we contemplate what might have been, we can at least take comfort with the fact that the hashtag #savethesociety is already trending for this thoughtful show that explores the delicate balance of a society, how it functions, and how we treat each other.