Two weeks ago, I sat down to start writing an article about one of my favourite TV shows, The Booth at the End, for a new recurring feature called Cancelled Too Soon. Just like every other article I write for this blog, my first stop was Wikipedia, to refresh myself on the basics: the names of all the actors, writers and directors; who produced and distributed it; how high were its ratings or box office; what was the general timbre of contemporary critical reception. I always check this stuff first because it’s the stuff I’d be most embarrassed to get wrong, especially since I routinely see professional writers get them wrong, and my second-hand embarrassment on their behalf is so intense that I’d probably throw up if I experienced it first-hand.

Most of this information does not exist on the Wikipedia page for The Booth at the End.

The very first line of the article says it was “originally produced for the US cable channel FX”.

That’s not true. Very little of the information in the article is true, and some of it is contradictory – it claims that it first aired on Canada’s City TV network in one part of the article, and that it first aired on FX in another. I spent hours searching for contemporary reporting on The Booth at the End and it was even more contradictory and confused. So, I decided to do some primary research of my own.

Two weeks later, I have a pretty good grasp of the true story of The Booth at the End. Most of it came from a Twitter conversation with its creator and writer, Christopher Kubasik, and an email exchange with Doug Miller, the media contact for the show’s production company, Vuguru. I don’t have all the fine details, but I’m reasonably satisfied I know enough to tell you the mysterious tale of this strange, ground-breaking and now tragically-forgotten show, cancelled before its time, its history rendered opaque thanks to shoddy reporting by contemporary news sources.

The Booth at the End is the best TV show you never knew existed.

The show has a simple premise: a solitary Man (Xander Berkeley) sits in a booth in a diner where people bring him their desires. He consults a notebook that contains a task for them to carry out, the completion of which will bring about their desire. Most of the time, there’s no obvious cause and effect between the task and the want (e.g. rob $101,043 from banks and you’ll become prettier), but no matter how extravagant your wish, it’ll come true as long as you complete the task. All the Man requires is that his clients return to the booth to give him regular updates on their progress, the details of which he records in the notebook.

The show was created by Christopher Kubasik and produced by Vuguru in 2010 on the presumption that it would be distributed on the web as a series of shorts, as with Vuguru’s previous successful series Prom Queen, which “aired” on Myspace, YouTube and Veoh in 2007. To the best of my knowledge, it was only distributed in this form once, on the website of Canada’s City TV network,, as part of their “Shorts in the City” platform. But Vuguru also packaged The Booth at the End in two other formats, a series of five twentyish minute episodes and as a feature-length film. The five-episode series was broadcast on City shortly after it debuted on their website to little impact. By the end of 2010, it had yet to air anywhere else.

But in 2011, international distributor Content Media sold The Booth at the End to FX International, who broadcast it in the UK and other territories. The UK run was well-received, which turned out to be its ticket back to the USA. Six years before Hulu made history when The Handmaid’s Tale became the first streaming series to win Outstanding Drama Series, the streaming giant was looking to make a move from an online distributor of shows from US broadcast and cable networks to exclusive content of its own (though not yet original content). They looked across the pond and found three shows that had made a splash: the BBC sitcom Whites, E4’s superhero dramedy Misfits and The Booth at the End. Hulu became the exclusive carrier of these shows in the US. Misfits quickly became one of Hulu’s most-watched shows, and their success at importing it is still remembered as a watershed moment in the history of streaming television, while Whites petered out when the BBC declined a second series. But The Booth at the End did well enough for Hulu to ask for a second season, which premiered on Hulu in 2012.


After that, the historical record is a little murky. I haven’t been able to find out yet if Hulu distributed the second season only in the US, or in other territories, whether FX International or Rogers Media continued to distribute it in the territories where they’d distributed the first season, or why it was cancelled after its second season. I watched it on Hulu in 2015, but it’s also been available at various points on both Amazon and Netflix. Right now, it’s not available to stream anywhere I can find (though you can rent or buy it in its feature-length format on iTunes or Vimeo), which means none of the streaming giants ever acquired it outright. According to Doug Miller, Vuguru are in the early stages of exploring a reboot and Italian director Paolo Genovese is in post-production on an Italian film adaptation called The Place. But if you want to watch The Booth at the End in its best and most successful format, as far as I can tell, you can’t do so legally.

That’s a shame, because The Booth at the End is unlike any other TV show I’ve ever seen, and should be held up as one of the greatest shows of the century so far. The whole series takes place in the titular booth, with the story told entirely through conversations between the Man and his clients, as well as some occasional, brief interactions between the Man and a waitress called Doris (Jenni Blong). The Man and his book are clearly supernatural in nature, but we never learn any specifics. “How can I know you’re not the Devil?” asks one client. The Man’s reply is blunt: “You can’t.” Instead, the show is focused almost solely on the clients, their desires, and how the experience of attempting to carry out their tasks affects them.

Without strong performances, it would be a mess, but both seasons (each is set in a different diner, with a different set of clients) feature exceptional ensembles filled with excellent character actors – any list of stand-out performances is doomed to paradox given it would contain almost everyone in the series, though my personal favourites are Sarah Clarke as Sister Carmel, a nun who wants to hear God again, Abby Miller as Theresa, who just wants to be loved, and Jennifer Del Rosario as Melody, a teenager who wants to save her father’s ailing business. But presiding over all, it’s Xander Berkeley as the Man that blows everyone else away with probably the greatest performance of his lengthy career. Lucy Mangan, writing for The Guardian, called it “so brilliant it should be used as an acting masterclass” and I can’t disagree. He uses the minimal physical space of the booth with the breadth and precision that other actors use a stage, the slightest shift in posture changing the whole energy of a scene. Never mind his line readings, though I’ll probably go to my grave thinking about the surprised, awkward way he says “Oh” upon learning a former client killed himself, or his faux-pleasant answer to a bigoted client’s question about what side he’s on (“I’m on this side,” he says, gesturing at the table. “My side.”). Just a super-cut of his wordless reactions to his clients’ stories would be a lesson in itself, from the slow way he turns to face an elderly client casually describing how she filled the bomb she’s building with metal shards to maximise damage to the varying shades of exasperation and amusement he expresses toward a client who keeps whining about his task to become a servant of higher power.

Also, this smile:


The Booth at the End is extraordinary for a dozen reasons, from the simple fact of its creation in the early days of streaming television when no formal infrastructure existed, to the quality of its craftsmanship (Jessica Landaw, who directed season one, should be swamped in offers to direct for every show on TV). I’m sorely tempted to just quote my favourite lines until I’ve typed out the whole script (“You think changing a man is any small thing?”), describe how the end of each storyline tore my heart apart in the best and worst ways and rant at length about how season two’s cliffhanger ending will haunt me until I die. But since my goal here is to convince you to watch it, I don’t want to give too much away.

However, one aspect of The Booth at the End is so rare in modern television that I can’t let it pass by without comment: the seriousness of its portrayal of religion. Not because it approaches the topic with an “appropriate” level of solemn regard (The Man to Sister Carmel: “Nun walks into a bar?” She stares back at him. “Or not.”) but because it appreciates the emotional weight and moral gravity that religion exerts in people’s lives. In season one, Sister Carmel’s quest to hear God again and the conflict between her vocation as a nun and her task (to become pregnant) is deeply affecting, while the desire of Jack, in season two, to eradicate a religion he views as an enemy to his own (neither explicitly named, but context suggests he’s a Christian out to destroy Islam) is portrayed as such a moral horror that it causes the Man to lose his carefully-maintained posture of disaffection – he shakes as he reads the task that Jack must commit and his utter disgust for Jack is so obvious that only a blinkered bigot like Jack could possibly miss it. When modern television bothers to portray religion at all, it’s usually as some weird, silly or sinister holdover from the past (Better Things’ gross episode about Mormons), an inconsequential character trait (Felicity in Arrow is Jewish, but it would make no difference whatsoever to the show if she wasn’t) or a punchline (pretty much any Seth MacFarlane show). There are some notable exceptions: Orange is the New Black, Transparent, Mrs. Brown’s Boys, Greenleaf, and a few shows with religious themes but no religious content like 12 Monkeys.


The Booth at the End is rich in both religious content and themes, especially its portrayal of the Man as a vehicle for grace. Throughout the series, the Man is very insistent that he does not “make things happen”. “I create opportunities for people to do things,” he says, ostensibly describing the tasks that will give them what they want. But as the series progresses, it becomes clear that, intentionally or not, what the Man creates are opportunities for people to be spiritually transformed, both for clients who complete their tasks and who choose to abandon them when their experiences change their desires, priorities, and understanding of themselves. One client comes to recognise their own selfishness and turns themselves into the police for crimes they committed as part of their task, while another messes up the wording of their initial request, but ends up happy with the botched result anyway because of how their task forced them to confront what they truly valued. Some end up happy when they find out their seemingly unpleasant task was itself what they really wanted, and some are so traumatised by carrying out their tasks that they learn to appreciate what they already have. Not every client gets a happy ending, but every single one of them is changed forever in the attempt to find one.

More than anything, The Booth at the End stands out as a work of art that really understands the radical implications of free will. Every choice made in The Booth at the End is treated like it could change the course of history, because it can. What is the course of history but the aggregate of every choice ever made? The Man often admonishes clients who take their choices and actions lightly, but he also cautions one who treats one desire (raising the dead) as more extreme than another (making her mother happy):

“No matter what you choose to get, you will be breaking the world. That’s what we do. We take the world and we crack it.”

This is the first article in a series entitled Cancelled Too Soon. Future instalments will be found here

32 thoughts on “Cancelled Too Soon: The Booth at the End

  1. We too became hooked on this captivating show The booth at the end. We binged watched it as very few great shows like this have us watch one after another. Breaking bad was another. I will join any petition to see this show carry on for more seasons. When we looked on Roku, we saw it and thought “oh great, season 3 is on”. Sadly it was just the first 2 seasons we had seen already. I don’t get why some sophomoric TV shows stay on for years and a quality show like this ends in just 2 seasons! So if there’s any petition going on or who we can contact I would gladly write to have this thought provoking, great acting television show come back.


    1. Hi Rocky, unfortunately I am not aware of any attempts to revive The Booth at the End at this time. The only information I was given when I initially researched the article was regarding the Italian film adaptation The Place and preliminary explorations of rebooting it. While the former has been released since, I have not heard anything about the latter.


  2. I’d love to see a season 3, if Arrested Development can do a comeback, so can you! I agree with almost this whole article as do my mismatchy friends! We’re a 12 step group where selfishness is one of the main themes- this show is so versatile!

    It was just getting good with Doris, can you maybe take some COVID time to write a sum up book? What task would I have to do for that- someone else to write a “finish”book? Lol! All of the stories were diverse and impossible to pattern identify- which is why the consistent on spot acting and stationary logistics worked so well (in my opinion).

    I’ve been hoping since 2013 and checking in for more episodes and rewatching old ones. This is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen!


  3. Could we start a petition? I just found this and watched it all in one night. I haven’t watched anything that made me think like this in a very long time. Everyone should watch it. There is some amazing acting in this series. There’s nothing like it on the screen today big it little. This needs to be brought back!! How could they just leave it hanging like they did? So many unanswered questions. There is so much junk in TV today. This needs to be brought back with the same cast!


  4. DON’T READ THIS COMMENT IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE SHOW YET: I, too, just stumbled on this amazing show. I love your analysis above. I would add my thoughts that in the end, I had to go pretty strongly with my suspicions and ended up pretty secure (not 100%, but…) with my original thought that this was a modern interpretation of the Life of Christ. People hearing that “he could do things”, by word of mouth, coming to find him, seeking him out, not sure if he was the devil or an angel, a prophet or God Himself — just as the Bible says people were with Christ. Also, the “Book” of answers purposefully looks like an ancient “Hebrew” scroll — something Jesus would have turned to for wisdom. The characters (virgin Mary = Sister Carmel; Theresa = the woman “caught” in adultery, the zealots and “let the little children come unto me”, the doubting Thomas, the daughter raised from the dead = Melody, the young guy who wants to live forever — etc etc etc. The episodes were like parables — not always easy to interpret, but illuminating and universal. The entire story line and the character of the Man were as full, as enigmatic, and as beautiful and mysterious as the stories and the life of Jesus actually were. The man in booth (excellently portrayed and acted as you say by Xander Berkely) was as oh, so very human and yet oh, so very different than everyone who sat across from him — as enigmatic and uncompromising as Jesus actually was — not someone you would mistake for a “nice guy”, but someone that you either wanted to “follow” or you didn’t. It definitely put a Judeo-Christian spin on people making their own choices in life, in attaining grace, and in “working out their salvation”. It definitely put the onus on us humans to solve our many problems and to help each other out, not to “pray and hope God” takes care of everything, while we do nothing. It definitely did not, as you say, espouse what we have come to accept as “religion” today. It was fascinating in hindsight, that Jesus often asked people to do “weird” things to be healed — put mud on their eyes, don’t tell anyone, pass out these five fish and small loaves of bread, “cut off your hands”, give everything you own to the poor, etc — just as the Man asks people to do sometimes violent or random things seemingly unrelated to what they think they want. How often do we find that what we think we want, doesn’t bring us the happiness we think it will? How often do we find our true moral essence when we are forced to contemplate doing some immoral act? I think this explains why, as much as I hated for it to end, it had to end with Doris asking the Man to love her and the man not answering. Doris is Satan tempting Jesus, and this is where the supernatural God-ness would have had to take over the story and life of The Man completely. It has to end there or it would have become a special effects nightmare. 🙂 and perhaps also become too, too pointedly a Christological exploration. It also would have ruined the fact that the important teaching point is, as The Man in the Booth says, to Theresa, that we are to imitate the unknown man who comes and holds her and loves her — not as she expected to be loved by a man, but “sinlessly” — purely and simply and deeply — as Jesus loves us. We are to know we are loved and to, as Jesus and The Man both say — “go and do likewise”, telling each other: “Know that you are Worthy — You are worth more than this”.


  5. I was completely hooked by Booth at the End on Amazon, I have almost forced relatives to watch it. Amazing script, acting and enough teases about the Booth’s occupant to keep you coming back. I would LOVE for this to be rebooted.


  6. Just finished watching both seasons on Amazon Prime and I’m heartbroken that there isn’t any more. This is a quality innovative and engaging show that is more substantive than most other shows out there that get much better reception. If the distribution of this little gem had been handled better, we might have had the privilege of more seasons. Please reboot!


  7. This is the best show I’ve seen in a long time and I’m so disappointed there won’t be another season…I just found it and recommended it to a few select friends and now it’s done. Give it one more season!


    1. I watched this year’s ago and find myself thinking about it still. Every now and then I Google it to see if there is any word on another season but always come away disappointed.


  8. I appreciate your article so much, and am certainly of a like mind
    — particularly regarding the spiritual aspect. “You don’t have to agree, but you have to be civil.” One of my mantras. Anyway, I, too, am appalled at being left hanging as we are at the end of Season 2. Who will address this great injustice?! Thanks again.


  9. I watched both seasons once before (maybe on FX) and was hooked! I was broken hearted that there would be no season 3. Searched every so often over the years for a return of “The Booth…”, but to no avail. I couldn’t believe my eyes when it popped up on Amazon Video. I just completed binge watching all the episodes again and still marvel at how great it was. Please, please, please bring it back!


  10. I’d also like to see a Season 3. More even. The wishes and the tasks, with what’s going on in the world today…makes you think. Random things intertwined. Netflix should pick it up and do additional seasons.


  11. Just finished binge watching ‘The Booth at the End”. Then in researching to see if more episodes had ever been made, I came across your article for CANCELLED TOO SOON. I loved the series and totally agree with your article. I will be recommending to others to find and watch it too.


  12. Bring back “The booth at the end “! Why would they cancel a show that’s so different and engaging! When you watch this you want some character’s to achieve their goals and others you are so taken back by what they actually want to fulfill to get what they want. The casting is fantastic! Please bring it back!!!


  13. I just came across this show by chance while browsing Amazon. It is one of my favorite shows of all times. It smart, thought provoking, and edge-of-your-seat in its own way. Twice in the series the idea of booth man being the devil comes up. 1st season someone ask him to which he replied (but did not answer) “Would it make a difference if I ?” (paraphrased). The. season has a client saying that her. Other said he was the devil to which he replied “Maybe I am or maybe she’s right.” Just not sure because when filtered through the lens of traditional Christianity, he has actions that fit each role. I so wish that if they see enough steam generated about the show they will pick up where they left off. Be sure to go online to rate it. There are only 25 ratings. Then there is Doris the waitress…..


  14. Excellent article & tribute- thanks for the work. I found “…End” by pure chance on Amazon & it hit me at just the right moment I needed. I think it’s going to stay with me for a very long time.


    1. Alice-Ann, I agree with you SO VERY much. If you take a look at what shows ( series ) are in their 3rd , 4th, and even 5th year, and the quality of those series, it is very distressing. The reason this series is being cancelled is totally due to the fact that it makes people,( like you and me to ) THINK and FEEL and understand about our decisions, and how they not only effect us but how they and do effect others. ANYONE that views this VERY short lived series will understand exactly what I am conveying. Damn shame that we can not have a say in all this.


  15. It’s now on Amazon Prime. We watch all the episodes and we loved how the script portrayed each character. It reminds me of reading a book and seeing each character as you read the words. I usually can’t put down a good book and this is how I felt about The Booth At The End.


  16. I just watched The Booth at the End on Amazon. I enjoyed it so much I searched for some info on why it was cancelled. Thanks for your informative article! It really is too bad it didn’t continue, but the ending is nice as is.


  17. The end of Season 2 will forever haunt me as well. I really do wish that a worthy conclusion to this incredible series be made and released in the future, and I’m even willing to ignore being careful what I wish for just this once….


    1. Amen! I am galled that I don’t get to find out more about Doris’s intentions-like genuinely pissed off about it. It was clear the show was going to venture further into the man’s motives, and I feel robbed that no one gets to see the completion of this vision. I can’t imagine it being cheaper to produce. There is no excuse for this.


  18. Thanks for this well written article! I loved this show and it’s nice to know that it really stuck with some other people over the years in the same way. Definitely a show cancelled too soon!


  19. The show is available on youtube now. As I rewatch, he comes across to me as a demon/fallen angel who took God’s book and is now trying to find out about humanity and what makes it tick. I am sad about no season 3. I keep hoping it will be back.


  20. This was really a fantastic show, so well-written and acted; and if I remember correctly, nothing is ‘explained’ in the traditional television ‘as you know, Bob’ sense, which I found extremely refreshing


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