Netflix has canceled its first African original series, Queen Sono. The decision came Tuesday after Netflix had already renewed the series for a second season, marking just the latest example of one of the streamer’s titles getting the axe despite a renewal.
In a statement, series creator Kagiso Lediga indicated that the reversal was in large part due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has affected numerous productions across the globe. Obtained by TVLine, which was the first to report the news, Lediga said, "we wrote a beautiful story that spanned the continent but unfortunately could not be executed in these current trying times." In its own statement, Netflix confirmed that it had "made the difficult decision not to move forward with season 2" of the series.
"A huge thank you to our fans across the world for the love shared for our first African Original series," the statement continued. "Netflix is also grateful to the… cast and crew for their stellar efforts in creating this show for our members around the world. We'll continue to work closely with South Africa's creative industry to keep producing more compelling 'Made-in-South Africa' stories."
Debuting on the streaming platform in late February, Queen Sono followed a hard-partying African female spy, who, assisted by her cohorts from a covert peacekeeping organization, must use her lethal skills to keep the continent safe from terror while also dealing with her own personal struggles. Created by Lediga and executive produced by Tamsin Andersson, the series had starred veteran South African actress Pearl Thusi in the lead role.
Netflix initially greenlit Queen Sono for a second season in April, with Dorothy Ghettuba, who leads African Original Series at Netflix, at the time stating that Season 1 "marked the beginning of our journey to introduce the world to exciting stories that are made in Africa." Ghettuba praised the series as an "unprecedented representation of a strong female Black lead in African television" and said that the series "delivered a compelling story that resonated with our viewers."
Although Netflix refrained from releasing any viewership data on the series, Queen Sono had 91% Tomatometer rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. In their review, Refinery29's Jazmin Kopotsha wrote that the series "is more than just an appealing spy thriller. It's a fierce, conscious celebration of black Africa and the women at its heart."
Queen Sono's cancellation marks the latest Netflix original series to be canceled due to the pandemic, following on the heels of GLOW and The Society, the latter of which had also been renewed for a second season before the streamer reversed its decision. Queen Sono Season 1 is available for streaming on Netflix.