As viewers of Netflix and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina have known for some time, the live-action adaptation of the Archie Comics character is ending its running with the recently-released Part 4 on New Year's Eve. Except for a series that brought a ton of attention and some serious demos to the streaming service, you really wouldn't know it- and it's had me wondering why. To be clear, there is always room in the sort of "dumpster fires of speculation" for other considerations to come into play- but with that said? It felt like Netflix kinda went out of its way to have CAOS end with a whimper and not the blaze of glory it deserved. Without getting into any spoilers about how the Kiernan Shipka-starring series wrapped up, here are a couple of points to throw out for consideration.
In April 2019, Aguirre-Sacasa signed a massive, reportedly five-year deal with Warner Bros. Television. Under the terms of the rumored "high eight figures" deal, the producer-showrunner will develop, write, and produce new series through his Muckle Man Productions banner. What that meant was that while he would still maintain his roles as executive producer/showrunner on The CW's Riverdale and then-pilot Katy Keene as well as CAOS, anything new from this point forward falls under WBTV- who just so happens to now have a sweet family relationship with HBO Max. Since the deal, Katy Keene was canceled and Riverdale is set to enter its fifth season (with some wondering how much longer the show will run). With Katy Keene no longer a viable rewatch for Netflix and Riverdale possibly getting close to the end of its run (and thus, an end to the streaming service's rewatching potential), did Netflix pick this time to start cutting ties with Aguirre-Sacasa- since the streamer won't be getting access to new content from him moving forward? Did CAOS pay the price for a bit of last-minute payback towards Aguirre-Sacasa?
While we'll never know the answer for sure, a few things. As a site that's covered the series since it first premiered, this final season of CAOS feels like it's had the least amount of pre-premiere press and marketing. To be clear, I'm not talking about from the show's social media accounts or the cast- both of which did an amazing job keeping the fanbase engaged. But where was the level of support from the main Netflix media/press headquarters? To offer an example, go back and check out the amount of social media support there's been for "Karate Kid" sequel series Cobra Kai outside of the show, cast, and creators' accounts- on Netflix, NX, etc. Granted, one is a popular series just joining the streaming service while one is ending its run- but up until just recently? One of those series wasn't premiering until a little over a week later.
Which brings us to the next point: why move Cobra Kai up to January 1, 2021- a day after CAOS dropped? The anticipation and fanbase for the once-YouTube series were already there- they were going to show up. But let's say you want to do something special for 2021? Why not just drop the premiere? Then, you have the best of both worlds and Cobra Kai has another week to build towards the full-season binge drop. But by announcing you're dropping the series early the same week Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is in the middle of the final days of its big PR push, all you do is suck out most of the oxygen in the room for one series for the sake of the other. And for those of you countering that a streaming service wouldn't be that petty and risk losing money, remember who we're talking about. Netflix. A service that's not exactly lacking in content. But to wrap up my rant, I'll leave things with this. If you were running a streaming service and you had a popular series airing its final season, would you let an official account post the final eight-minutes-plus- essentially the final scenes? I know we wouldn't because it then what would the point be in watching. Apparently, not everyone agrees.