Since the much-anticipated Filthy Rich drama debuted on TV2, it has had a bumpy ride with critics and ratings. Not short on raunchy sex scenes, drug taking and a glimpse into Auckland's super rich, the show has disappointed many.
There has been speculation that TVNZ would not go for another round of funding. A spokesman said "it's no secret we love the show but as normal we'll wait for the season to wrap up before we assess what we're going to do."
The show's writers have been attacked for being dated in their approach and TV insiders have criticised the expensive series for its 90s sets and style.
Filthy Rich received $8.12 million taxpayer funding from NZ On Air but it is not the country's most expensive drama. Each of its 20 episodes cost $406,000, but Filthy Rich came in well under Outrageous Fortune. Over its many seasons, Outrageous Fortune received varying amounts of funding and one round saw it top $450,000 per episode.
In an industry newsletter last month, NZ on Air CEO Jane Wrightson came to the show's defence: "We all know it's hard for a drama series to get established. Let's be patient and support the talents of the large numbers of people involved in this project."
Spy put the question to TVNZ and NZ On Air: does Filthy Rich deserve a second season?
Wrightson is overseas this month but a spokesman for NZ On Air swatted away the nay-sayers: "Outrageous Fortune did not shine in its first season but went forward to huge success."
Andrew Shaw, TVNZ's general manager of commissioning, production and acquisitions, has come back with fighting talk.
"We are very proud of Filthy Rich. It is brave, wild and exciting," he says. "Drama is a great adventure and we are delighted the viewers have enjoyed the ride."
Shaw says audiences won't be disappointed as the season finale approaches.
"They'll be treated to even more twists and turns and surprising revelations as the drama reaches its climax. It really is a drama that keeps audiences guessing to the end."
On average, the show is reaching 250,000 viewers an episode, down from the 406,000 who tuned in for the premiere. However, Shaw says Filthy Rich is winning its time slot with TV2's target audience of 18-49-year-olds.
"Filthy Rich has also been a break-out hit on TVNZ OnDemand with half a million streams since its launch. It's the kind of show that really brings home how we watch TV these days and highlights the big changes we've seen in the way drama is consumed."
With four episodes left, Shaw pushed the season cliffhanger. "We'll finally learn who killed John Truebridge snr and a dangerous confrontation leaves one life hanging in the balance."
Filthy Productions' second drama, Dirty Laundry, appears on TV One later this year.
The show received $6.72m in funding for 13 hours of television - $516,00 an episode.
However, upcoming South Pacific Pictures Outrageous Fortune prequel, TV3's Westside 2, beats that with NZ On Air granting $7.6m for 10 episodes at $760,000 each, making it New Zealand's most expensive drama series.