Why The Magicians was really cancelled

    The Magicians has reached the end of the road.

    The Syfy series, based on Lev Grossman’s novel of the same name, will not be renewed for season six.

    The Magicians has been a part of our Syfy family for five fantastic seasons,” said the network in a statement (via Variety).

    “As we near the end of this journey, we want to thank John McNamara, Sera Gamble, Henry Alonso Myers, Lev Grossman, and our entire brilliant cast, crew, writers and directors for their beautiful creation. But most of all, we thank the fans for their tremendous support and passion. Because of you, magic will be in our hearts forever.”

    the cast of the magicians season 5


    Buy the book The Magicians by Lev Grossman

    The news didn’t come as a huge surprise to executive producer Henry Alonso Myers.

    “We knew it was a possibility,” he told Entertainment Weekly.

    In a separate interview with TV Insider, executive producer John McNamara expanded on that: “With the exception of season four into season five, we never knew whether or not we were going to get picked up.”

    The decision to pull the plug on the fantasy series ultimately meant that fans of the show wouldn’t be given all of the answers when the final credits rolled.

    But that wasn’t a problem according to Gamble, who also heads up Netflix’s You and The CW’s Supernatural.

    “We’ve always been a show about entering into all of the crazy, twisted aspects of adult life, and the fact that not everything in the finale gets wrapped up in a bow feels very right to me,” she said.

    “So, I think it’ll be satisfying. We feel satisfied with it. We feel [we] did what we set out to do. The rest we kinda just gotta leave it up to the audience to see how they feel and what they take away from it.”

    olivia taylor dudley as alice quinn, the magicians, season 5, episode 1


    But that still doesn’t explain why Syfy made the decision to scrap it, especially given the fact that the team behind The Magicians had numerous other narrative strands that they wanted to explore.

    “The show, in terms of its voice, the writing, the acting, the storytelling and then the execution of storytelling, was never a sweat,” McNamara told TV Insider.

    “I feel like we never really broke a sweat. And pretty much anything we wanted to do, the team at the network were like, “OK, try it.”

    But there was one hurdle: money, unsurprisingly.

    “It was always a discussion… about the financials and you always know, with any show, that there’s this kind of fine line between what it brings in and what it costs,” McNamara told TV Insider.

    “It [season six] is not going to necessarily expand in terms of revenue, it’s not necessarily going to contract in terms of revenue, but it is going to cost more.”

    the cast of the magicians in season 5


    He added: “Where the show was always challenging, where I think actually we exercised the most creativity, was with the budget. And I’m not knocking anybody, they gave us a budget. We knew what it was. It increased slightly every year as certain costs went up, and as long as we stayed within that budget, we could do anything we wanted.

    “We always knew we existed in this sort of rarefied realm that was very much dependent on how much we spent and how much we took in.”

    But, as Gamble pointed out, they eventually reached their limit: “We had the sense going into this season [five] that Syfy, in particular as our first platform, was kind of hitting the point of, ‘The cup is full and there’s no more room’.”

    rizwan manji as tick pickwick, the magicians, season 5, episode 2


    Following news of the cancellation, McNamara revealed that they were “at least trying to make a run at other platforms” and find a new home for the show: “[Gamble] and I wrote the finale, and we tried to craft a finale that was both open to possible futures but also closed off some story lines.”

    It’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.

    Netflix picked up Designated Survivor and Lucifer after they were cancelled by ABC and Fox respectively, while One Day at a Time left Netflix for Pop TV.

    But “none of them – of which NBC Universal was one – seemed in the end like a perfect financial or creative fit”, according to McNamara.

    He added: “So we reluctantly just decided, ‘Well at least we have this season finale that was crafted to also be a series finale’.”

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