This post contains light spoilers for The Sandman
It sure seems that people like The Sandman. The long-in-development adaptation of the influential DC Comics series finally came to Netflix on Aug. 5, and almost immediately gained a following. Fans took to Tom Sturridge’s complex portrayal of Dream aka Morpheus, the Lord of the Dreaming. Over the initial 10 episodes, fans tuned in to watch Morpheus gain his items back from the troubled John Dee (David Thewlis), capture the rogue nightmare the Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook), and contend with guest stars such as Gwendoline Christie’s Lucifer and Jenna Coleman’s Johanna Constantine. So popular was the show that Netflix even dropped a surprise bonus episode, which adapted fan-favorite stories “Dream of a Thousand Cats” and “Calliope.”
So why hasn’t The Sandman been renewed for a second season? Writer and creator of The Sandman comics Neil Gaiman, who also co-created the Netflix series with Allan Heinberg and David S. Goyer, tweeted earlier in the year some potential reasons, pointing to the tremendous financial costs involved with a live-action fantasy show. But more recently, Gaiman took to Twitter again to reveal some of the mechanics inside of Netflix.
In response to a (now deleted) tweet from a fan demanding a quicker response from the streaming service, Gaiman reminded readers that the show has only been out for a month and a half, which means “data harvesting has only just finished.” In other words, Netflix is just now getting hard data on the audience for The Sandman, which allows them to measure the risk involved in continuing such an expensive show.
Furthermore, Gaiman indicated that people approach The Sandman differently than they do other Netflix shows. The data-mining process “is complicated by a lot of people not binge-watching it,” wrote Gaiman, “but spreading it out, letting episodes sink in before watching the next.”
At first glance, this slow reception of The Sandman would seem to work in the show’s favor. After all, it shows that people take their time and think about The Sandman instead of blowing through it and then promptly forgetting about it. The show has the staying power that many other series lack. But it also means that it may not be a good fit for Netflix which prioritizes binge-watching.
Also working in the show’s favor are the teases set up in season one. So far, the series has adapted only the first two arcs and a few standalone issues of the original 75-issue run, which means that there is plenty more beloved material to mine. Furthermore, the first season gave us a glimpse of not only Dream’s personal development, but also a continuing clash with his sibling Desire, who has been orchestrating events to overthrow him.
Although he knows how badly people want to see more Sandman stories on screen, Gaiman ultimately urges patience. Perhaps in hopes of avoiding a #releasethesnydercut scenario, the writer reminded his followers that “Telling @netflix to hurry up won’t make decisions s happen faster.” In the meantime, we’ll just have to dream about season two.