Legion on FX is one of the more unique takes on the X-Men Universe we have seen in a long time. Love the show or hate it, Legion is creating a lot of buzz right now. The night it aired I saw endless conversation on the show. Yet with the buzz behind the series, the ratings were a different story entirely. When I read the Deadline report that the ratings were 1.6 million viewers, I could see FX wondering what happened. When Fox, the parent station of FX, has ads for the show during the Super Bowl, that number is rough. Now I’m pondering how this is going to go down in the coming weeks for this ambitious series. So let’s talk a minute as we look into Legion and where do we go from here.
Take note, the ratings should improve but 1.6 million viewers, while okay is not the numbers FX imagined for Legion.
Time to begin with why didn’t an audience immediately gravitate to Legion? That’s where the conversation gets interesting. If you look at the comic audience, we knew that Legion was part of the X-Universe. For the general audience, a Legion with an X in the O, isn’t enough to go on. Now the creator of this series, Noah Hawley, was going to have a tough haul with Legion either way. The character isn’t a household name for one thing. The comic origin of the character is less straight forward and it gets detailed quickly. In the TV show it is streamlined to David Haller a.k.a. Legion is an all powerful mutant and we first see him in a mental institution. Yet the mutant angle isn’t really talked about until the halfway point of the pilot. The pieces don’t fall into place from there either, it’s a rough start at first.
Legion is a complicated character to work with but what about Hawley’s last show? With Hawley’s last show, Fargo, you had a name familiar to an audience and big names like Billy Bob Thornton involved. Fargo was an easy sell to the general audience, but Legion is a different case entirely. I was reading a short interview on Mashable that Hawley didn’t want the X-Connection to be obvious at the start of the show. Now for the general audience you see that we are in X-Territory but that reveal is near the end of the episode. For the comic audience you’re getting to feel around as to how this is going to come together. It’s different to say the least.
It may be tough to nail down but I am glad Legion exists. This is one daring series.
As for the choice of network, FX is perfect for this show. Noah Hawley can do the slow burn, hence why the ratings are a touch low but I think they will perk up. If this was on Fox, this show wouldn’t get the time to breathe. Legion asks a lot of the audience at the beginning and you have to strap in for the ride. On FX, the audience is more open to the idea of enjoying the ride while Fox itself would be a different case. Fox owns FX but the Cable and Network audiences are two different beasts. Even for the Cable audience Legion was not going to be an easy sell. Now that people are talking about it, this should help in the weeks to come for the series.
Legion is meant to be a slow burn series, building upon the mysteries of the first episode into something more. While FX is probably disappointed that the ratings weren’t stronger for the first episode, they probably aren’t surprised. If this was on Fox on the other hand, you would have reason to get concerned but on FX, slow burn shows are fine. Besides Fox has their own X-Men TV show in the works right now, that should be the more audience friendly show. Legion is meant to be different and daring and says to anyone watching, hang in there because you will be rewarded.
Seriously you will be rewarded by watching Legion, trust me.
It’s a well acted show and a well done show and as long as the positive talk continues, the series should be okay. Legion is the kind of show that I never thought I’d see but I’m glad it exists. Hopefully the ratings rise to the level that this series deserves.
(Update on Legion: The Ratings did increase after Live+3 Days report came out but to 3.27 million viewers and 1.8 million in the 18-49 demographic. It’s much better as it set a record for gains in the 18-49 demographic. It’s still low ratings wise but this updated report is encouraging. This update is via Deadline.)