Sons of Anarchy writer Kurt Sutter has made the surprise announcement that he is pulling the plug on The Bastard Executioner after a single season. Sutter may have created one of the best-loved dramas of modern times with Sons of Anarchy but sadly for Sutter the new show just did not reach the same heights as it predecessor. Of course TV dramas get axed all the time but it is unusual for creators to axe their own shows as Sutter has done.
According to Rolling Stone Sutter realised that dwindling ratings for The Bastard Executioner, which even featured Sutter’s buddy Ed Sheeran, meant the writing was on the wall for the period drama set in 14th Century Wales. As a result Sutter decided to act first and pulled the show.
— E! Online (@eonline) November 18, 2015
The Hollywood Reporter reflects that Sutter’s new show opened to modest ratings in September but sadly for Sutter and the cast it lost over half of its audience in just six weeks. Apparently Sutter took out a full page advertisement in the trade magazine to inform the public that the show was to end. Before doing so Kurt e-mailed the cast and crew informing them of the decision to end the show.
“It’s fantastic to get a good review [or] an award, but at the end of the day the only thing that matters, really, is numbers. I’m not the guy sitting in my ivory tower spitting s**t out and not caring if anyone is watching. … I don’t want to write something that nobody’s f***ing watching.”
“The audience has spoken and unfortunately the word is ‘meh.’ So with due respect, we bring our mythology to an epic and fiery close.”
Sutter will be hugely disappointed that this show failed to take off. Sons of Anarchy was FX’s highest rated show ever and prior to that Sutter worked on The Shield, another incredibly successful show. Sutter has a strong history of successful shows under his belt so he will be keen to work out what went wrong this time. It seems that Kurt thinks that timing was a huge issue.
“I think the mythology was a little too dense for some people. There’s a glut of period pieces on right now, and I’m sure timing has something to do it. There’s just so many f***ing variables involved in that formula. My sense is that a year from now, people will be like, ‘Why didn’t you make more?'”
It is also possible that Sutter’s show suffered as a result of comparison to the massively popular Game Of Thrones and the fact that Kurt chose to use a cast of mainly British actors who are largely unknown in the U.S.
Of course Sutter will not be idle. It has been widely reported that Kurt will make a prequel to Sons of Anarchy and it seems that FX are also keen on a spin off series featuring a more in depth look at the Mayan motorcycle gang who featured in Sons of Anarchy, though Sutter claims that he is more likely to produce that show than write it.
— FX (@FX_Canada) November 13, 2015
Sutter insists that he is very proud of The Bastard Executioner and still thinks that it is a great story. With the benefit of hindsight Kurt admits that he should perhaps have taken some downtime between the ending of Sons of Anarchy and beginning work on The Bastard Executioner. However Sutter admits that the story would not have changed had he done so. Kurt concedes that a longer break may have meant he was under less personal stress and the outcome may not have been so “soul-crushing.”
Were you a fan of The Bastard Executioner? Let us know your thoughts on Kurt Sutter’s decision to drop the show.
[Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]