The 14th century-set, Sons Of Anarchy follow-up The Bastard Executioner has just been canceled after only one season. Developed by Sons creator Kurt Sutter, the show’s ratings apparently didn’t live up to its cost, causing FX to pull the plug on the once highly hyped series. Though the cancellation may come as a surprise to the show’s fans, there is one silver lining to the news: With Sutter’s schedule now free, it seems the path is clear for him to finally begin work on the previously confirmed Sons of Anarchy spin-off next.
According to Deadline, Sutter knew the end of The Bastard Executioner was coming when he wrapped the finale episode five weeks ago. He didn’t tell the cast at the time, as the final decision hadn’t been made. Now that it’s official, Sutter is taking the time to pay homage to the historical drama, which was a passion project for him.
The producer took out farewell ads in several Hollywood trade magazines to thank all those involved in the show, writing, “I would like to thank The Bastard Executioner family for a once in a lifetime creative and personal experience. I have been award by the talent and commitment of this TBX cast and crew.
For his part, Sutter is well aware what went wrong. As he admitted to Variety, the edgy period drama was an “acquired taste” and wasn’t displaying the audience growth that it needed to continue. While Sons of Anarchy also didn’t start off as a ratings juggernaut, it did show consistent progress, with ratings continuing to build throughout the entirety of the series run. Unsurprisingly, an exploration of the Middle Ages like The Bastard Executioner has proved to be harder to sell.
“Good reviews are wonderful and so are awards, but for me, I’m very aware of ratings because my job as a storyteller is to engage and hook an audience,” Sutter told Deadline. “Ratings let me know that I’m doing my job. This show premiered low, and we never really established a baseline where we could say, ‘OK, that’s our audience.’ We would find ourselves down a tenth here and there and I saw it coming.”
That apparent lack of enthusiasm among viewers is why Sutter didn’t want to try and find new home for his beloved show. “I’m very aware of audience response and reaction. To push, or try to sell it somewhere else, it somehow feels a little too desperate. This show is a very difficult one to produce,” he said, also adding, “Mainly, I just feel like I don’t want to write a show that no one’s watching.”
It’s a new experience for Sutter, who — with the exception of a couple of failed pilots — has been largely successful in launching new shows. He produced The Shield on FX and then basically went right on to creating the much beloved and critically acclaimed hit Sons Of Anarchy. Unlike The Bastard Executioner, both shows ended after they had naturally run their course.
But fans have no need to worry. It probably won’t be too long before Sutter is back to work. With The Bastard Executioner‘s run now over, he’ll likely to shift his attention to the developing Sons of Anarchy spin-off, which, as FX announced back in August, will focus on the Mayan biker club. Sutter will serve as an executive producer and will also have a hand finding the right showrunner to spearhead the show.
That’s not the only project he has in the works. As Deadline reports, Sutter is discussing plans to finally direct one of his early feature film scripts, Delivering Gen.