Shōgun probably isn't getting a second season

Shōgun is wiping the floor with the competition in the streaming charts, but don't expect a season 2.
“SHOGUN” -- "Tomorrow is Tomorrow" -- Episode 3 (Airs March 5) Pictured: Cosmo Jarvis as John Blackthorne. CR: Katie Yu/FX
“SHOGUN” -- "Tomorrow is Tomorrow" -- Episode 3 (Airs March 5) Pictured: Cosmo Jarvis as John Blackthorne. CR: Katie Yu/FX /

Despite the warm reception from viewers and critics alike for FX's feudal Japanese period drama Shōgun, the show is unlikely to get a season 2 — and that's a good thing.

The fact that Shōgun most likely won't continue past season 1 was revealed by husband-and-wife showrunner duo Justin Marks and Rachel Kondo in a far-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter, where they discussed everything from how they incorporated crews from both Japan and Canada to how they kept their composure while having two children during the intensive, years-long production for the series. When asked point blank about future seasons, they brought the conversation back to the source material: the 1975 standalone historical novel Shōgun by James Clavell.

"We took the story to the end of the book and put a period at the end of that sentence. We love how the book ends; it was one of the reasons why we both knew we wanted to do it — and we ended in exactly that place," said Marks.

For my money, I think ending Shōgun with the full story told in the Shōgun book is a good idea. Not that I wouldn't love to see more of the series — I absolutely would — but it feels like continuing just for the sake of it is a trap that could so easily go wrong. Shōgun has always been billed as a limited series, meant to tell a very specific story.

It is a bit of a shame though, because Marks and Kondo have put together a fascinating and very forward-thinking production process that prioritized building a very inclusive set in order to do right by both Japanese and English-speaking viewers. It's sad to think that thoughtful infrastructure won't be used again on the production.

"It feels a lot like parenting, where you get really good at, like, washing bottles, or all the other things that babies require, and then suddenly they don’t need any of that anymore. And you’re like, 'Aw, I got so good at that,'" Kondo said.

"And I’ve been party to this in the past with shows like this, where you build a whole factory, and it only pumps out 10 cars and closes up shop. It’s a bummer," Marks added. "You know, one of our producers wrote a nearly 900-page instruction manual for how we do this show — almost as long as the book Shōgun itself. All of this infrastructural knowledge went into it. I just hope someone else — maybe a friend — needs a production primer on feudal Japan at some point, so I can be like, 'Here you go, use this book. That will save you 11 months.'"

“SHOGUN” -- "Servants of Two Masters" -- Episode 2 (Airs February 27) Pictured: Hiroyuki Sanada as Yoshii Toranaga, Anna Sawai as Toda Mariko. CR: Katie Yu/FX /

On the up side, it doesn't sound like Marks and Kondo are completely ruling anything out. "Oh, that’s just our bodies talking. Like, do you want to have another kid right now?" Marks joked. "You know, we also made this show so long ago, because of the long tail of postproduction on it. It’s not like a normal TV series, where if we were in a situation like this promoting it, we wouldn’t just be in the writers room already, we’d be on set shooting season two by now."

But if not another season of Shōgun, what then? THR interviewer Patrick Brzeski suggests the pair tackle David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which takes place in Japan during 1799, almost 200 years after Shōgun. But for something even closer to home; it's worth noting that James Clavell wrote a whole Asian Saga of standalone books, each one set in a different time period and setting. The second, Tai-Pan, takes place in Hong Kong during the 1800s. Options abound!

Shōgun beats The Bear as the best premiere for a Hulu show

It's no surprise that the idea of future seasons of Shōgun are top of mind for a lot of people right now. Forbes reports that as of this week, Shōgun has surpassed Hulu's hit show The Bear as the most-watched premiere for a Hulu show. Shōgun amassed around nine million viewers globally during its first week, knocking the premiere of The Bear season 2 from the coveted top spot.

That's not all: Shōgun is also outdoing pretty much every other streaming show at the moment. Streaming tracking site Samba reports that during the week of February 26 to March 3, Shōgun was the most-streamed show on any platform. Usually, Netflix utterly dominates this list. Shōgun is the rare show from another platform which is giving the streaming giant a run for its money. Here's the top 10:

  1. Shōgun (Hulu)
  2. Avatar: The Last Airbender (Netflix)
  3. Love is Blind (Netflix)
  4. Mea Culpa (Netflix)
  5. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (Max)
  6. Code 8: Part II (Netflix)
  7. American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders (Netflix)
  8. Masters of the Air (Apple)
  9. Resident Alien (Netflix)
  10. Spaceman (Netflix)

The fact that Shōgun is ahead of even Avatar: The Last Airbenderwhich has done well enough that the notoriously cancel-happy Netflix just renewed it for two more seasons — speaks volumes. Marks, Kondo, and the rest of the Shōgun team have clearly made a series that is resonating with viewers in a big way.

Shōgun drops new episodes on FX and Hulu on Tuesdays. Its 10-episode run wraps up on April 23, so we've still get plenty of weeks of glorious viewing ahead. We'll be reviewing each episode as they drop, so make sure to check back to get in on the Shōgun discussion!

Next. James Clavell books. If you like Shōgun, read these other great historical novels by James Clavell. dark

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