CBC CANCELS STRANGE EMPIRE WESTERN SERIES – UPDATE

The Canadian national broadcaster, CBC Television, announced March 2nd that it is cancelling its well-received Western TV series, Strange Empire, after one season. Launched in October of 2014, the show was set in the Alberta-Montana border region of 1869, and centered upon a group of women that find themselves isolated in that territory following dramatic events in the first episode. Created by Laurie Finstand-Knizhnik, the series was shot in British Columbia and featured three strong female lead characters; Kat Loving (Cara Gee), a Métis woman from the Red River region, Rebecca Blithely (Melissa Farman), a socially-awkward but intelligent & medically-skilled girl from Toronto, and Isabelle Slotter (Tattiawna Jones), the ambitious wife to coal mine & brothel owner John Slotter (Aaron Poole). 

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Farman, Gee, Jones, Poole – CBC Image

In this writer’s view, Strange Empire has been a singular show that used strong acting & writing to frame an important interpretation of such issues as the expansion of settler society into the North American West of the 19th century, Indigenous rights, race relations, and gender roles & expectations. From a college instructor’s perspective, I can share that within the Western genre classes I teach, a number of college students, particularly young women, were excited to learn about a show that featured such strong and complicated female characters. For some students, regardless of gender, it expanded their idea of what a Western could be. 

It will be interesting to track the public and social media reaction to the show’s cancellation. It is worth noting that a similar fate recently befell the very popular contemporary US Western TV series Longmire (2012-Present). Despite averaging some 5.6 million viewers per episode in its most recent season, its founding network, A&E, cancelled the show in August of 2014.  Speculated reasons for the move include the idea that Longmire didn’t reach a specific (i.e. younger) demographic and that A&E desired more ownership of the content it broadcasts.

There was a massive social media reaction to Longmire ’s cancellation, with coordinated weekly Twitter actions to make the hashtag #LongLiveLongmire a trending topic. The show’s production companies were able to find a new home for the series on Netflix, which has ordered 10 new episodes for a Season 4 debut later in 2015.

CBC has yet to provide a public statement as to why Strange Empire was cancelled. A number of other questions also now emerge. Will CBC continue to make the Season 1 episodes available online at Strange Empire? Will the network produce a DVD package with expanded content for fans of the show?  Finally, and most importantly, will those involved in the production of the series look for other host networks, whether a traditional broadcaster or online? Westernsreboot.com will track developments. Hopefully, the current cancellation is only a “dramatic pause” and not a definitive end for Strange Empire.

For those interested in learning more about the show, this site reviewed each of the thirteen episodes of the first season and a chronological listing of links to each review can be found Strange Empire – Review Collection.

(Copyright  – Chad Beharriell)

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91 thoughts on “CBC CANCELS STRANGE EMPIRE WESTERN SERIES – UPDATE

  1. I am absolute sick that the show was cancelled.. We found it on Netflix and watched it all in two days. It was very rich and multi-faceted. The ending was amazing…and disappointing! It was a horrible to trick to play on watchers of this story. I had an angry fit when I found that it was cancelled.

    • Thanks for the visit & comment. As you have likely seen, you are certainly not alone in wanting the series to continue and hopefully potential producers (e.g. Netflix) are aware of the broad support for follow-up seasons.

      Chad

    • Why would you NOT be aware enough, CBS, to see that Strange Empire is Faulkner relocated from the South to Canada…layers and layers of character development. Real literature, twists and turns, human nature where the evil have souls and the good are despots too. So its back to Two Broke Girls, repetitive one liners, umhmmm give me some of dem der taters.”

    • I feel the same. Very disappointed. Loved the show. I like westerns and this one especially because there were so many strong women characters. Longmire is another I like. Definitely bums me and my husband out.

    • I also binged watched season one on Netflix in two days . Could not get enough of this very well written, realistic portrayal of women in the west . The many twists and turns were exhilarating. And of course anything on TV that has intelligence, seems to be consistently canceled by the greedy network execs. Hopefully Netflix will pick up the show

  2. I, too, love this show and was HUGELY disappointed that it has been canceled! Someone needs to rethink this decision.

  3. I dont even usually like westerns, but someone was watching it on netflix when i visited and I ran home to watch the rest of the episodes. And when i went to look to see when the season would return I found this.It is a very good show and I would love for it to come back sometimes lack of ppl watching is just because they dont know about it. I rarely watch tv at all but I would tune in to watch this

    • Thanks for the visit, Desaray, and the interesting comment that this show drew the attention of someone who doesn’t watch much TV. I think that speaks to the singular appeal of the series.

      Chad

  4. Same as the others I am not a western watcher neither but i couldnt find anything else on netflix other than more vampires, more werewolfs, and more supernatural stuff I wanted just a true show to watch and so I came across strange empire and really liked it I watched it in one day yes one day so I than went to see when season 2 was coming out and go figure again another good show got the axe. of course if it had vampires, werewolfs and witches we all know it would not have got canceled i mean seriously dont we have enough supernatural why not a good true tv show. :(( I am so sad that it was cancelled.

    • Thanks for the visit, Lacy. I continue to be impressed by the number of viewers who, once discovering the series on Netflix, get so involved with the show that they watch the entire first season in a short period of time!

      Chad

  5. Yeah people are watching now that it’s on netflix. And it is binge worthy- so it’s really tragic that CBC apparently doesn’t feel the same way. I just googled to see when the 2nd season started only to find other sad viewers complaining about the cancelation. So yeah maybe Netflix or some other provider might throw money towards a second season..crossing fingers;)

  6. Pingback: THE ECHO OF STRANGE EMPIRE | westernsreboot

  7. Really sad to hear it got cancelled. I just watched the first season on NetFlix and was hungry for more. so sad that when there are very strong female leads, they tend to let a good show go. the realism of the times was a bit dark at times, but I felt with the demise of Slotter’s character, these women had a real chance at building a more humane community. It would have been nice to see these characters developed further.

    • Thanks for the visit & comment. You make a good point about the heaviness of the conditions at the time, which might be unknown to newer generations/those unfamiliar with North American history. Today some people get upset when the WiFi connection is interrupted, whew.

      Chad

  8. I had never heard of this show until I saw it trending on Netflix. I am not a western fan, but the name intrigued me, and after reading the summary I gave it a shot.
    All it took was the first episode and I binged watched it. I just watched the last one 10 minutes ago and I’m already commenting about needing, yes *needing*, a second season.
    MORE STRANGE EMPIRE!
    My husband concurs.

  9. Love the show….kept our attention we watched all of it …back to back!…I went to look for the next season and find it had been canceled. I want to see more of this..I am willing to keep my netflix just so. I can watch this show…it was awesome!

    • Thank you for the comment, Norma. You may wish to share the above point (that you would keep Netflix just for Strange Empire) with the company (Netflix) itself – I’m sure they would take note of that!
      Cheers,
      Chad

  10. I stumbled on this show and was hooked by it’s “strangeness,” women-centered themes and strong performances by many of the cast. I also found the 19th century language to be authentic and welcome. There are worse shows on TV and yet a good one gets cancelled. CBC folks should rethink their actions. This series has merit, intelligence, diversity and artistry. I would like to see more.

  11. Wow I just finished watching the season on Netflix and was trying to find when the next season would air, just to find it cancelled. I really hate when strong interesting female characters get their shows killed by networks.

  12. This series was great. I just looked to see about the continued series dates and cant believe it was cancelled. I watched the whole season 1 in tbe last 24 hours. Really great. I hope it comes back.

  13. It is 4 A.M. in the morning. After watching the last episode, I began searching for when the next season will start. So disappointed to find it has been cancelled. Guess I’ll go to bed and hope to dream up an ending.

  14. Although I live in a northern NY State locale close to Kingston, Ontario and have both the CTV and CBC on my local Time-Warner Cable, I hadn’t heard of “Strange Empire” until I ran across it as a recommendation to me on Netflix. I’ve been watching an episode a day to stretch it out a bit, and hold it in equal esteem to “Deadwood” and “Longmire.” Please, please, Netflix, take this over and continue it as you have “Longmire!”

  15. I really hope this isn’t the end of this story. I very much enjoyed this series. I was hoping to find season 2 and came across news that it’s been cancelled. #StrangeEmpire’sGottaSurvive

  16. I absolutely loved this show! So much I watched in two days the entire season staying up late and depriving myself of sleep because I was so captivated. I hope someone picks it up and decides to continue it!

  17. I am really upset that they canceled my show, yes my show i`ve been waiting for Strange Empire to restart, i love this series, i just can`t believe it. i don`t even want to write anymore about it , that`s how upset i am

  18. Really fell for the 1st season of Strange Empire.. I so wish you would have continued with a second season. Along with cliff hangers in the works in the last episode…

  19. I found the show on Netflix USA. I loved it. I binge watched the show last October. I loved because it was a different spin on western show. I was intrigued by the woman. I have been waiting for season 2. Come to find out netflix are not the producers. When don’t receive a lot show from Canada. I hope they reconsider and continue filming the show and bring it back to Netflix.

    • Thanks for the visit and comment, Dominick. As you may have read above, you are not alone in having discovered the series after its initial CBC run and then sharing in the disappointment of its cancellation. I always recommend sharing such comments with providers like Netflix, as well.
      Cheers,
      Chad

  20. This was one of the greatest western shows I have watched! It’s on par with Hell on wheels!. I hope Netflix or Amazon picks up the series and continues the story. Very disappointing, we watched the entire first season in 2 days.

    • Thanks for the visit & comment, Steve. Hopefully there continues to be crossover between fans of Hell on Wheels and Strange Empire…as series, they each do very different things quite well.
      Chad

  21. I am so sick of our citizens lack of knowledge of history! This series was so interesting and rich. In the past, I too, was so interested in werewolves, vampires, etc. Now, almost every show is about that. I am sick to death of that genre’!!!! Not creative any more. I turn the tv off a lot any more and read…hmmm, imagine that. So, just keep on feeding us a steady diet of worn-out supernatural garbage. We all may go back to reading. The libraries are full of different types of reading materials of which we may choose according to our personal likes.

    • Thanks for the comment, Felicia. I agree that real-life North American stories and histories are interesting enough in their own right, and deserve a place among our viewing choices. If there was a broadcaster with a mandate to share such stories with the Canadian (and global) public, it would be the CBC but unfortunately, they chose not to for reasons that (to this day) are not publicly evident.

      The fact that comments in support of Strange Empire continue to appear is a sign that CBC was wrong in cancelling the show.

      Chad

  22. Just found SE on Netflix and very disappointed to find out that it was cancelled by CBC after a single season… Huge Longmire fan as well and of course, Deadwood. I hope to hear that SE gets picked up by another network.

  23. Ahhh cant believe there is no second season, such a wonderful series. Well done to all involved in the production, acting and writing of this series, it was indeed very good
    .

  24. Just finished bingeing Strange Empire on Netflix. This show was so refreshing! Besides the beautiful visuals, engaging plot, and of course kick-ass women, the authenticity of the language was was captivated me. So many shows start out that way but before you know it they are using modern phrasing and wearing modern interpretations of the historical costumes. This show kept its integrity throughout. The character development was layered and complex and just so damn human. Praying that Netflix uses its smarts and picks up production. At least give us one more season to see what happens to these characters we have come to love. And deal with that cliffhanger!!!

  25. My Husband and I loved this show! And again, another great series CANCELLED!! It makes you not want to even “try” new shows because the good ones always get the axe! Why is this happening so often?!? They had just scratched the surface with this one. There was SO much story left. Hate that it ended… Without and end!!! Yes, we are all still hanging on and hoping that it gets picked back up!!!

    • Thanks for the visit & comment, Melissa. As you have likely seen from this site, you are not alone in that disappointment. At this point (i.e. one year after the show’s cancellation), I wonder if the most feasible follow-up would be a one-off TV movie or mini-series, so as to wrap-up a number of the story-lines.

      Chad

    • Thanks for the visit and comment…my view is at this point, fans may have to settle for a follow-up movie…or perhaps mini-series, at best. I would love to be proved wrong, however, as Strange Empire could easily do another season with the story-lines that were left.
      Cheers,
      Chad

  26. I found this show on Netflix yesterday. I finished it today. I came here to find out when Season 2 begins. Well, hell, this is disappointing.

    • Thanks for the visit & comment, Tamara. Yes, unfortunately you join a long list of those disappointed by CBC’s decision in regards to Strange Empire. That said, you can do some searches on YouTube to find some behind-the-scenes material (e.g. interviews) that you might enjoy – try the search term “CBC Strange Empire interview”.

      Thanks,
      Chad

  27. I just found this series on Netflix yesterday and have almost watched the whole thing. Very disappointed to find out it’s been cancelled. I find Canadian TV to be superior to US (IMHO) and it’s hard to find Canadian programming in America. Very bummed out.

    • I appreciate the time of a visit and comments. It may be of interest for you to also explore the behind-the-scenes video made available during the run of the series. Here is one example that takes an in-depth look at the lead character Kat Loving:

    • I agree with you 100%. Every time I have a favorite show that I love and look forward to watching and its Canadian Born or British. It is so aggravating when its canceled. hell on wheels is gone, penny dreadful, being human, Longmire, and knock on wood they do not cancel Outlander to soon. They never advertised it enough so it would have High ratings. Because it had already been canceled when I saw it on net-flex too! It takes word of mouth and sometimes longer to build up the ratings. And I’m sure it would mostly be watched by the older crowd. 30 yr. and older

      • Thanks for the visit & comment, Kim. I wanted to relay (in case you are not yet aware) that the 5th season of Longmire will be released on Netflix next Friday/September 23rd.
        Chad

  28. I just watched the whole season, and got hooked, then come to find out, it has been cancelled, I hope NETFLIX picks the show up, or anyone, it was a very interesting view of the west, and i am sure close to some true in it.

  29. I LOVE this show, found it on Netflix. It was packed full of stories and had me at episode 1!, It was 10 times better than Westworld, which is okay but extremely slow, like the creators of Westworld knew they were set for a another season so they drew everything out. I really really hope they bring back and make another season of Strange Empire.

  30. Why is it every time a great program comes along, the dimwitted “powers that be” cancel the program? It’s ridiculously annoying to say the least. Give the watching public a vote before u arbitrarily deny us the entertainment we like!!

    • Hi Tia…thanks for the visit & comment. As you will likely seen on this site, you are not alone in your sentiment. There was a social media campaign soon after the announcement to cancel the show but CBC appeared to have their mind made up, regardless of that input to keep the series going.

      Chad

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