HBO Just Cancelled Its Second TV Drama In Less Than A Week, And The Stars Have Responded

With its annual awards prestige and star-studded programming lineup, HBO is one of the relatively few linear TV networks whose content anchors the same conversations that surround popular streaming shows on Netflix, Apple TV+, and beyond. And while the premium cabler isn’t so often at the center of cancellation conversations, given its penchant for limited series, the past week has seen the cancellation of two original drama series. Following the adaptation The Time Traveler’s Wife getting the axe, HBO has now cancelled the period drama Gentleman Jack after two seasons. 

Based in part on the real-world in-code diaries of Anne Lister, whose writings inspired her unofficial mantle as the “first modern lesbian,” Gentleman Jack starred Suranne Jones as the aforementioned Anne, with Sophie Rundle as her partner Ann Walker. The first season debuted in 2019 to much acclaim for the actors, the writing, and the story, though it was clear from the start that the series had a far larger audience in the UK than here in the States. 

With COVID-related delays mucking things up for the production, Season 2’s release didn’t happen until 3 years after the first. When it premiered in April of this year — this time with UK eps airing ahead of those in the U.S. — the series once again drew praise from critics and fans, though with unavoidable drops in viewership. As such, Deadline’s cancellation report does indeed note that Gentleman Jack’s second season was near the bottom of the barrel when it came to demo ratings for HBO originals. 

It would seem that line in the sand is what sparked the network to pull the plug less than a month after the second season concluded. Here’s how HBO explained things in a statement:

HBO will not be moving forward with a third season of Gentleman Jack. When we began this journey more than five years ago, we knew the series’ creator Sally Wainwright had a uniquely compelling vision, and it’s been tremendously gratifying to see how Anne Lister’s journey has resonated with viewers. We are incredibly grateful to Sally, to the impeccable Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle, and to the entire cast and crew for bringing Anne and Ann’s story to life. We’d also like to thank our partners at BBC and Lookout Point for their collaboration on two remarkable seasons.

As the cancellation news started to spread around, Gentleman Jack stars Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle both took to social media to share their feelings about wrapping up Anne and Ann’s stories after two seasons. While sharing a video of Season 2’s bloopers with her followers, Jones shared a thankful message with viewers on Instagram, saying:

Good morning 🎩 I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on our beautiful journey making this show. While it is sad news Gentleman Jack will not be renewed, this show has brought so many together❤️ enabled people to share their stories, brought joy, emotion and creativity and gave me a real connection to you as it’s audience😍 . . . . I have never been involved in a show that has made such a huge impact and touched my heart like this one has. It wasn’t always the easiest job I’ve had… but it was always worth it to see the response it got. THANK YOU for all your support.

Suranne Jones also thanked the show’s crew, and called Sophie Rundle a “true friend and a total star” in her post. And for the folksy fans out there, she also gave a shout out to musicians O’Hooley & Tidow for Gentleman Jack’s theme music. 

Sophie Rundle also used Instagram as the spot of choice to share her thoughts about the cancellation, saying:

What a privilege it has been to play Ann Walker and bring her and Anne Lister’s extraordinary love story back to life. I am so proud to have been a part of reclaiming their place in history. And I will be forever grateful to have been allowed to spend time in the eye wateringly talented orbits of Sally and Suranne, and the incredible team of people who brought this story to your screens. Thank you for being such a kind, funny, creative and supportive fan base. I am overwhelmed by the love this show inspired. And PROUD. So fiercely proud. 🌈 🎩❤️👒

While HBO may have cancelled two shows in less than a week, the network has a ton of high-profile programming in the works that should help to placate some negative ill will. The biggest of all the projects is no doubt the Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, but others such as True Detective’s long-awaited fourth season and The Gilded Age’s currently filming second season will no doubt keep viewers glued to their seats later this year and beyond. 

As we wait for those and more projects, Gentleman Jack’s first two seasons can be streamed in full with an HBO Max subscription

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.