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Why the Show Was Canceled, and Why it Shouldn’t Be

Apr 28, 2023


Why Women Kill was a dark comedy anthology TV. series created by Marc Cherry of Desperate Housewives fame. The series premiered in August 2019 on the then-titled CBS All Access streaming service (which was later rebranded as Paramount+). It focused on murders caused by and relating to women, as told across multiple time periods.

The show received positive to mixed reviews at first, but its acclaim only grew as the series progressed. Why Women Kill was among a growing lineup of stand-alone content for the streaming service at the time, airing only on the fledgling streaming platform (and not the near ancient associated network). The strength of the show at the time demonstrated that Paramount+ was a must-have for some of the hottest series on television.

April 22nd, 2023: If you’re a fan of these murderous women, you’ll be happy to know that the content in this article was updated by the (mild-mannered) Amanda Minchin.

Here are some reasons Why Women Kill was great and why it is a loss for Paramount+ to no longer have it on air.

Why Women Kill Was Stylish and Morbidly Humorous

Paramount Global Distribution Group

Why Women Kill is a dark comedy that is also a throwback to pulp stories of the 1950s. Because of this, the series has a unique sense of style, with incredible costume and production design that captured the four time periods it showcased. The opening credits of Season 1, for example, is a collection of women committing murders as depicted in colorful comic art set to the song L-O-V-E by Michael Feinstein.

Like any good title sequence, this informs the audience immediately as to what type of show this is – Stylish with a dark sense of humor. It also utilized various aspects of Americana to explore the deep underbelly of the pain and suffering boiling beneath the surface.

This sense of style also comes back to the editing. Season 1, for example, featured plenty of intercuts between the various storylines. Each episode typically opened with a fourth wall break, which was an opportunity for the audience to piece together clues about what will happen later on.

Why Women Kill Has Subtle and Clever Writing

Paramount Global Distribution Group

One of the things that made Why Women Kill such a fun series is the way in which it wove its stories together. Season 1 of the series, for example, spans three different time periods. In the first season’s 1963 storyline, we watch as a woman discovers her husband is having an affair. Meanwhile, in another decade, we see a woman discover her husband’s closeted homosexuality (during the height of the AIDS epidemic no less), before beginning an affair with a much younger man. Finally, in the modern day, the storyline explores a married couple in a polyamorous relationship and the effects of bringing a third woman into their lives.

While on paper it appears obvious how all of these stories will play out, Why Women Kill cleverly defies the expectations of its genre. The final murders, the victims, and the causes are not what was hinted at in the first episode. What connects these three different storylines is the fact that they all take place in the same house over different decades, which helps to highlight the story’s various commonalities.

The season finale sees the three titular murders played out as overlapping in the house at different points in time. From this, we see how the impact ripples through the decades. As a result, the Season 1 finale is one of the most thrilling of recent years.

Related: Best Movies About Women Serial Killers

Season 2 opted to portray one story across the same, albeit earlier time period (1949). The central story followed a woman who discovers her husband is a serial killer and uses his talents to get into an exclusive garden club. Meanwhile, the president of the local garden club, who is having an affair with a younger man, wants to kill her old rich husband. Things get a bit complicated when said husband’s adult daughter (a former friend of his current wife) gets suspicious and comes to stay with them.

Of course, setting the story earlier than the previous seasons meant the writers could have attempted to drop boatloads of Easter eggs and callbacks to the future storylines. However, they wisely chose to contain this one story. In contrast to the first season, which opted to swerve from expectations, Season Two plays it straight, telling the story of a good woman who will go to whatever lengths she needs to rise to the top.

The Impeccable Cast of Why Women Kill

Paramount Global Distribution Group

One of the immediate things to note about Why Women Kill is its absolutely incredible cast.

To start, Season 1 split its cast into three main storylines.

The first storyline is set in the 1960s. Anchored by Ginnifer Goodwin (Once Upon a Time), this storyline also stars Sam Jaeger (Parenthood) as the unfaithful husband, Sadie Calvano (Mom) as the mistress, and eventually Lio Tipton (Crazy Stupid Love) as a woman married to an abusive husband played by Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights).

The second storyline in Season One takes place in 1984 and is focused on Lucy Liu’s character. It features Jack Davenport (Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl) as her closeted husband, Leo Howard (Freakish) as her young lover, and Li Jun Li (Wu Assassin) as her similarly-aged daughter. Her character, Simone, is stylish and elegant, the very picture of urbane confidence, even as her marriage crumbles around her.

The final storyline happens in then modern-day (2019) and is focused on a throuple gone wrong, played by Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Cruella), Reid Scott (Venom), and Alexandra Daddario (The White Lotus).

Related: These Are the Best Original TV Shows on Paramount, Ranked

Season 2 of the series continued on in the tradition of stellar casting. To start, there were two major connections to the original first season. Goodwin’s Once Upon a Time co-star Lana Parilla joined the cast, as well as Daddario’s brother Matthew, who was cast as Parilla’s secret lover and co-conspirator.

The lead of Season Two is Alison Tolman (Fargo). She is joined by Nick Frost (Shawn of the Dead), who plays her husband. The rest of the cast includes B.K. Cannon (Switched At Birth), Jordane Christie (The Haunting of Hill House), and Verónica Falcón (Queen of the South).

The casting of performers like Goodwin, Liu, Howell-Baptiste, Tolman, Parilla, Cannon, and Falcón in major roles highlights an industry that tends to write women off when they don’t look a certain way, or after they reach a certain age. The series instead simply highlights great performers and gives them the opportunity to lead stories they are not often given a chance to in other circumstances. Its inherently broad ensemble cast allows the potential to utilize even more underrated actors working today.

Unfortunate Trend of Canceling Female-Led Series

Netflix

The cancelation of Why Women Kill after already being renewed for another season is very similar to the fate of Netlfix’s critically acclaimed GLOW. In this case, Netflix had just renewed the series for a fourth season, arguably the final one for this critically acclaimed hit series. Instead, in October 2020, a year after Netflix renewed the series, the streaming service decided to cancel it due to concerns about shooting during COVID-19. Even worse, more recently, Netflix canceled the universally acclaimed The Baby-Sitters Club in March 2022 along with the beloved fan-favorite Jem and the Holograms.

This trend is far from limited to Netflix and Paramount+.

Just as season two of Why Women Kill was in the middle of its run in June 2021, NBC canceled Good Girls, another critically acclaimed series. While NBC cited poor ratings for its decision, the network could not move the series to Netflix or their own streaming service Peacock. As a result, Season 4 had to work as both a season and series finale, which ended up leaving things on a cliffhanger.

Hulu has also gotten in on the action, canceling cult-favorite Dollface after two seasons in May 2022. Just like with Why Women Kill, The Baby-Sitters Club and Dollface lasted for just two seasons prior to their cancelation.

Needless to say, the timing for these cancelations is simply atrocious. Why this trend toward the cancelation of female-led series keeps happening is unknown, but it feels almost viciously cruel at a time when Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Was Why Women Killed Canceled?

Paramount Global Distribution Group

In the end, Why Women Kill would only go on to air for two seasons, though it was renewed for a third season in December 2021. However, on July 1, 2022, Paramount+ scrapped the series’ third season just as production was set to begin. The series’ cancelation was abrupt and unjust for many, ending a beloved series without warning right after the guarantee of another season.

The economics behind whether a show is sustainable on TV is often murky and conflated at best. Truthfully, a series can be canceled for any number of reasons. Curiously, no specific reason has been given as to why this show was canceled.

The only definitive word on the matter comes from a statement released by Paramount+, which reads:

“Paramount+ has made the difficult decision not to move forward with season 3 of Why Women Kill,” a statement from Paramount+ reads. “We would like to thank our partners at CBS Studios and Imagine Television Studios, the amazing creator and showrunner Marc Cherry and the incredible writers, cast, and crew for two memorable seasons.”

Since then, series creator Marc Cherry has returned to traditional broadcast thanks to a direct-to-network deal. Thankfully Why Women Kill is and was an anthology series, so there are no loose ends to atone for.

Why Women Kill was an underrated show that is certainly worth a watch despite its early cancelation. The series touched upon issues that many women face in their day-to-day lives. While that of course doesn’t always lead to murder in real life, the pain, rejection, and mixed emotions felt by this show’s characters are real and relatable. More importantly, these stories are timely, and it is a crying shame they are not getting the financial or long-term investment seen with more testosterone-fueled shows.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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