Why Queen Of The South Was Canceled -- Here's What We Know

After five well-watched and enjoyed seasons, USA Network canceled the action-crime series "Queen of the South," announcing the show's end before the debut of the final season in April of 2021. The show's storyline didn't feel like it had plans of stopping anytime soon, nor was the fifth season the planned end of the series. Fans of the show were shocked when the announcement of the cancellation came, especially considering "Queen of the South" frequently hit the top of the Netflix trending shows list when seasons showed up on the streaming service post-television broadcast. 

Adapted from the book of the same name, "Queen of the South" followed Teresa Mendoza (Alice Braga), a poor woman who flees to America after her boyfriend, a member of a drug cartel, is murdered. With the drug ring after her, Teresa ends up starting her own drug empire, becoming one of the wealthiest women in the world, but with a constant target on her back. The show made a star of Alice Braga, and it made "Queen of the South" one of the only primetime network dramas with a Latina as the lead.

While we've had our share of white lady leaders in shows like "Weeds," "Good Girls," or "Sons of Anarchy," Latinas are typically portrayed as secondary wives, sex workers, drug mules, mistresses, or an addition to a body count. "Queen of the South" called to task not just the dangers of the narcotic trade, but the misogynist power structures that exist everywhere, including the world of organized crime. Saying goodbye to the show wasn't easy, because the character of Teresa Mendoza was truly unlike anything previously seen in the "drug drama" landscape. So why was the show canceled?

Dropped Ratings and a Network Makeover Inspired the Cancellation

The USA Network has never officially confirmed what we already know, but season 4 of "Queen of the South" reportedly saw a considerable drop of about 20 percent in ratings, despite the show still being the most-watched drama on the channel. Season 5 showed an even bigger drop, proving the network's likely fear that interest in the series was waning. Ratings were definitely a big influence on the show's cancellation, but the changing landscape of the USA Network is the more likely culprit.

USA Network has only a handful of active original dramas still on the channel's roster, with "Queen of the South" meeting the same fate as "Dare Me," "The Purge," "Mr. Robot," "Suits," "Pearson," and "Briarpatch." USA Network seems to be more interested in making reality TV and picking up off-network runs of shows like Ryan Murphy's "9-1-1" or joint ventures with channels like Syfy with "Chucky" and "Resident Alien." It's hard not to view this as the death rattle of a once beloved cable network, but with USA's parent company, NBCUniversal, prioritizing new original programming not on NBC to pivot to Peacock, the cancellation of "Queen of the South" may be a sign of things to come.

All five seasons of "Queen of the South" are currently available to watch on Netflix.