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HBO's 'Winning Time' Being Canceled After Two Highly Entertaining Seasons Is About As Infuriating As It Gets When It Comes To TV Show Death

Tommaso Boddi. Getty Images.

For the last few months it's been pretty known that HBO's series 'Winning Time' was on the ropes and was facing a real possibility of being canned. Sadly last night, just as season two's finale was being aired, the news broke that the fat lady had indeed sung. 

The news is beyond infuriating. Of all the shows that gets canceled it's this one? The remake of Gossip Girl? No problem, see ya later. That weird show with The Weeknd? Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Winning Time, though? I'm enraged. I don't understand it. It feels wrong. 

This isn't a good show, it's a great show. If you disagree and would rather watch Euphoria then different strokes for different folks. The acting here is absolutely phenomenal. You've got the heavy hitters like John C. Reilly, Jason Clarke, Adrien Brody, and Jason Segel obviously doing their thing, but the not so known people blow the roof off the building. Actors like Quincy Isaiah (Magic), Solomon Hughes (Kareem), Sean Patrick Small (Larry Bird) and Hadley Robinson (Jeanie Buss) are all 600 foot knocked out of the park home runs. Seriously, whoever was in charge of casting for this should have any job they want moving forward. 

The biggest criticism I've read is that the show is too unrealistic at times. Hey assholes, it's NOT A DOCUMENTARY!!! They literally admit it's a dramatized version of the events that took place. Who is watching this for a step by step depiction of what happened? It's built for entertainment and that's what it is. So what if Jerry West is upset that they display him as this deranged man? He's a lunatic who cares so much about the organization winning. In my mind Jason Clarke's portrayal of him was my favorite week in and week out. 

Vulture did an interview with executive producer Kevin Messick where he clapped back at that whole notion. 

To every journalist that reviewed the show, we prepared companion guides that went through the bigger plot points of each episode individually and the sources that we use. Everybody involved in this, all the real people, almost everybody’s written autobiographies. There’s tons of press and research. This season we decided to show our work. We also made them available to the public on the HBO site so that if there were things where you’re like, “Oh, I don’t remember that,” you can go to the companion guide. For the most part, I think we’ve hit most of the major beats. The show is a love letter to basketball and to the Lakers and to their success and their rise. That was the whole reason and the inspiration for making the show. It captured a place and a time in sports history, in entertainment history, in Los Angeles history. Those were the driving factors.

Funny enough during last night's season series finale, the part that made me feel was over the top unrealistic was Kareem and Rambis punching the fans after the Celtics win Game 7. The show makes it clear that all of that actually happened, almost in a way a middle finger to all those who got on them for stretching the truth in prior episodes. They do the same thing a few episodes prior when introducing Riley as head coach. That was one of my favorite episodes in the two seasons in my opinion. That whole ep felt like a movie in itself. 

Every week I found myself excited for Sunday night to hit so I could conclude my weekend with another episode. I haven't actually had a series that gave me that vibe in a while, besides of course Succession. The problem I guess is that no one watched. Come to think of it, I felt like I was the only person watching this show during season 1. It wasn't until the rumors of the cancellation that I saw the outpouring support online. By then it was unfortunately too little too late. Infuriating. The heads of the show seem to blame the strike which prevented the actors in the show from promoting it and trying to keep it alive. Had to have been a helpless feeling for all the people who worked their ass to make this as good as it was and they couldn't even fight for it. In the interview Messick seems to have no ill will towards HBO and even credits them for giving it a second season despite ok ratings early on. If not enough people watch there's only so much you can do though. What a shame. 

In that Vulture interview the possibility of another streaming service picking them up was discussed. The door seems definitely open for that if someone wants to play ball. 

We haven’t really dug into that. I’ll say this: We’ve figured out a way, I think stylistically and creatively, to capture the Lakers at this time. There was kind of no better advocacy than what we got in an interview from Jeanie Buss, who we were able to finally sit down with last week. [She] loves the show, misses her father when she watches it, is kind of wowed by the detail, is blown away by the performances of our younger actors like Quincy Isaiah and Solomon Hughes. When I showed her the two different endings, just so that she knew what was coming, she had a pit in her stomach because she lived through the loss in ’84. The first thing she said is, “You can’t end there!” And then I showed her [the ending which aired], and she teared up seeing both the scene with her and her father, and the accomplishments that everybody went on to achieve, including her. I know it’s effective because the person that was in the room where it happened was affected by it. But, again, it wasn’t where we wanted to land.

Also pretty sweet that Jeanie Buss was a huge fan of the show, Sucks that I'm saying "was" or not "is." How the fuck is this show canceled?? The Short Porch had more run than this. Someone needs to scoop this up and continue the story. If Suits can garner over a billion minutes watched in a week for Netflix, why can't Winning Time? Figure it out and get this show back on the road so it doesn't end with Larry Bird winning the title. I know they threw in that makeshift montage at the very end with all the Lakers' success afterwards, but calling the show 'Winning Time' and ending with the Celtics' 84 title is hilariously cruel.