This is a real shame, readers. It seems that, today, AMC put its third original series, Rubicon, to rest. Rubicon was my favorite new show of the fall season, and was really the only one that didn’t disappoint me. I was deeply engrossed for the thirteen weeks that it was on the air, and with the finale, I was anxious to see where the dries went from there. It was ambitious, smart, and risky programming, and it only managed to gather a small, cerebral group of viewers each week, though it’s ratings seemed to be fairly consistent.
It’s safe to say that The Walking Dead is the reason for Rubicon‘s cancellation, as strange as it sounds. While I love both shows, it seems likely that the huge ratings for the new show’s first two episodes showed the network just how inadequate Rubicon‘s viewership was. It just doesn’t strike me as coincidental that the network waited until The Walking Dead gained its footing to cancel its other new series.
Rubicon will forever remain a gem in my eyes. It was a creative success, and will probably join the ranks of shows like Carnivale and Firefly as shows gone too soon. The show ended on an ambiguous note which may actually complement the entire storyline, and it may be regarded as one of 2010’s few stellar new shows, next to Boardwalk Empire and its fellow AMCite The Walking Dead. Could a season two of Rubicon have added to the show’s fantastic legacy? There’s no doubt in my mind that it would have been just as amazing as the first, but its absence thankfully won’t detract from the amazingness of the first season.
Some impassioned viewers of Rubicon have actually stated that they feel this cancellation has made AMC lose all credibility. While this cancellation has left me more saddened than any other bit of television news this year, I can’t say I hate AMC for it. I imagine it was a difficult decision, and compared to the ratings of The Walking Dead, Rubicon just wasn’t going to cut it. The dissenters claim that by canceling such a magnificent show, AMC has compromised itself creatively. And, to a certain extent, it has.
Since the network first started creating television 2007, it hasn’t cancelled a single series. Granted, there were only two (Mad Men and Breaking Bad), but with Mad Men‘s incredibly low ratings, AMC took a risk and kept it on, until it began to spread by word-of-mouth and caught on. Breaking Bad caught on slightly more quickly. The point I’m trying to make here is that success inevitably took away a little bit of AMC’s creativity. As a bigger network than it was when it started airing original shows, AMC no longer feels obligated to stick with underperforming shows. It doesn’t have to. Rubicon was great, but it was under the ever-rising bar of AMC. If it had launched with the same viewership in 2007, we’d probably have just seen the fourth season finale instead of the first. Rubicon was just a case of right place, wrong time, unfortunately, and was the first of AMC’s great shows to be shot down.
Will I stop watching AMC because of this slightly compromised creativity? Of course not. I really, really loved Rubicon (it was actually my favorite show while it was on), but I also really, really love The Walking Dead, Mad Men, and I’m growing to love Breaking Bad through my DVD catch-up.
As I glance pleadingly over to DirecTV and point to Rubicon, I have to say that I’m now disillusioned with AMC. They’ve proven themselves to no longer be a safe haven for low-rated but brilliant programming — they’re just another mortal television network, that is still just a little bit better than everyone else. Now that they’ve shown the mortality of their shows, it gives me even more of an incentive to tune in for their other shows — and to next year’s offering The Killing. I still love AMC, but my love just isn’t as blind as it was before.
I’ll miss you, Rubicon.