The much-anticipated season 2 of Netflix’s Sacred Games has received brutal criticism, with many saying that the plot line is not gripping enough. Few months ago, HBO’s Game of Thrones finale and Netflix’s anthology series Black Mirror faced similar criticism.
ThePrint asks: Sacred Games, GoT, Black Mirror: Do sequels tend to disappoint?
TV series, like some ageing stars, just don’t know when to quit, especially in the streaming universe
Sequelitis can strike any time, any place. But ever since The Godfather III, it has acquired the status of a universal law — the more you make of something, the worse it gets.
Of course, there are glorious exceptions to this. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag being one. The second season, with its meditation on intimacy, celibacy, sisterhood and menopause, was possibly even better than the first season. But usually, TV series, like some ageing stars, just don’t know when to quit, especially in the new streaming universe.
In the era of eternal entertainment, fiction is not merely watched, it is consumed, digested, and divested in one fell swoop. God forbid if you are the only one who doesn’t know what happened to Gaitonde in the first episode of Season 2 (Sacred Games). Or if you were clueless about Daenerys’s fate (Game of Thrones). Or thought Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too (Black Mirror) was the name of the latest Disney soap.
In the brave new world of entertainment, everything has to be ingested, at once. Naturally, expectations are high and cannot always be met. The build-up to Game of Thrones’ final season was such that no matter what the producers had come up with, someone somewhere would have remained dissatisfied, especially since the character arcs had outstripped George R.R. Martin’s original universe. Black Mirror has had its moments since the first season. And season two of Sacred Games, once you devote yourself to it, can be rewarding.
But the world will forever be divided between those who believe only The Sopranos and Breaking Bad beat the sequel jinx and those who don’t. The law of diminishing returns will eventually get you.
Producers take fans of popular shows for granted by leaving the series on a cliffhanger
Special correspondent, ThePrint
Perhaps, the question the show producers need to ask is: are their ways of promoting the show becoming more creative and engaging than the content of the show itself? Between sequels, show runners build anticipation, deploy content creators to keep the audience interested. In doing so, they raise the expectation to a level that they are not always able to meet.
Fans of shows like Game of Thrones and Sacred Games are never just passive viewers. They engage on social platforms, create memes, and share fan theories. Some of the fan theories built around these shows are often far more imaginative than what the production houses manage to create.
Perhaps, the producers are simply taking their fan base for granted. Leaving the series on a cliffhanger ensures the audience will return to binge watch, and persistent memes on social media will create a ‘fear of missing out’ among those not watching. And when the number of viewers runs into millions, would the reviews really matter then?
Sacred Games wants to sell season 2 to viewers who swore by note ban and Article 370’s abrogation
Tarun Kant Sharma
Unlike the final season of Game of Thrones, Sacred Games’ season 2 isn’t completely disappointing.
According to a report in The Verge, George R.R. Martin’s novel narrating the ending of characters Jon Snow, Arya Stark, and Tyrion Lannister showed them in a love triangle, but the final season of the show saw Bran the Broken become the king. The makers of the GoT series were in a hurry. A report in Gadgets360 quoted Varun Grover — the writer of the Sacred Games series — as having said that he covered Vikram Chandra’s entire book ‘Sacred Games’ in the two seasons while Saif Ali Khan thought it would take four. The hurry to adapt the book and compact it into two seasons might have hurt the final product.
Shows like Game of Thrones and House of Cards had taken the expectations to a different level. While these two series through their respective seasons took a longer time to disappoint, Sacred Games 2 did it early on as it became predictable.
Sacred Games suffers from ‘Deadpool 2 Syndrome’. It has too many references to historical episodes. Through an interplay between narratives in the plot, the series tries selling historical events to the same viewers who considered demonetisation a masterstroke, swore by the 2016 ‘surgical strikes’ and the Balakot air strikes, and supported Article 370’s abrogation despite having no real understanding of these events. Hasn’t entertainment been a source of escapism?
Season 1 of Sacred Games was critical of the Gandhis and was received well. The depiction of a Muslim youth being mob lynched in this season is the reality of our times.
Sequels are not always disappointing, and Marvel has proved this right. Its Avengers: End Game ended it with a bang.
Sacred Games 2 might be a disappointment but don’t rule out a better third season yet
Senior copy editor, ThePrint
The ambition of season 2 of Netflix’s Sacred Games is hard to miss. It’s a season that wants to say a lot, be relevant to present times and still be as entertaining as the first one. But beyond its winning aesthetic appeal, something that distinguishes it from every other Indian show before or since, there is little going for it in terms of narrative this time around.
While these issues aren’t unusual for shows that break ground, for instance HBO’s True Detective, it would be a bit silly to generalise the idea to all shows.
The quality and the viewership experience of a series depend on a number of creative choices: sequel or anthology, same set of creative people or not, time taken to develop the plot, etc.
Sacred Games and Game of Thrones are true sequels but a Black Mirror or True Detective isn’t. Another successful HBO show that faced criticism in its second season was Big Little Lies and the reason cited was change of directors in post-production. Nic Pizzolatto was said to not have been given enough time to develop the second season of True Detective and the result was underwhelming.
Sacred Games 2 might be a disappointment but don’t rule out the possibility of a better third season just yet.