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Warrior Nun Cancelled by Netflix to Fan Outrage

The official Warrior Nun season 1 poster from Netflix. It features the characters Ava, Mary, and Lilith, all looking towards the camera with a ring of blades behind them bathed in gold light.
Source: Netflix

The second season of Warrior Nun was released on November 10th, 2022 after a very long two year wait between seasons. The first season, released July 2, 2020 was considered a hit at the time, finding a large international audience during peak viewing months amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, earning it a swift renewal and a fair collection of loyal fans. But the undoubted success of the second season was not considered enough by Netflix to grant the growing series a third season. Worse yet, it seems to many that Netflix set the show up to fail. So let's break down the events leading up to the cancellation and the fan response that followed.

Unfortunately, for those of the more general audience persuasion who adored the first season but weren’t following the actors or creators online, news about this show’s second season was not likely to be something they would easily stumble upon. Simon Barry, the series showrunner, revealed on twitter that the second season had a promotional budget of a whopping $0, leaving the show without external advertisements, wide-spread promotional posts on social media, cast or creator interviews, a featured banner on Netflix, inclusion in Netflix convention appearances and events, or really anything beyond a teaser trailer and a full trailer softly launched on official Netflix social media accounts.

That initial teaser trailer dropped on June 6th, 2022, announcing that the second season’s release was planned for Winter 2022. Mid October, as anticipation grew for the series, a full and final trailer was dropped, and the release date was suddenly listed as November 10th, 2022. Decidedly not winter. At the time, fans were just excited to be able to see the show sooner than anticipated, but once the series had dropped, for many, that excitement gave way to the realization that November was the absolute worst month to have a non super-mega-hit show drop on Netflix. So, while fans rushed to praise the show's cast and creators for their incredible and universally loved second season, the joy of the season's release was very short lived.

An image of the header on Netlifx's Global Top 10 Website, which shows viewing hours for all of the shows in their global top 10 for film and television. It says "Netflix Top 10, Weekly top 10 lists of the most-watched TV and films on Netflix, around the world."
Source: Netflix's Global Top 10 List

It’s no secret that Netflix watches viewing numbers, series completion rates, and subscriber waves religiously in the first 28 days after a series drops in order to determine if that show should continue on their service. Aware of this, Warrior Nun fans took to twitter and discord to organize mass viewing events, printed posters and hung them up in major cities around the world, and connected with queer communities online to spread the word about the series. Among those fans? Employees at Buzzfeed Celeb, Forbes, the New York Times, and many other large publications. Thousands who loved this show were using the tools at their disposal to spread the word about Warrior Nun and boost its viewing numbers.

Ultimately, these efforts pushed the show to Netflix’s Global Top 10 for three full weeks despite competing against a wave of massive shows that also dropped in November, including Netflix’s Wednesday, which was a humongous hit, Dead to Me, and 1899. The battle to stay relevant in the numbers for 28 days was incredibly hard fought for these fans.

On social media, official Netflix accounts noticed the buzz and took full advantage, posting un-promoted (not financially boosted to reach larger audiences) graphics , clips, and tweets about the show. Often, these posts centered on Avatrice, the Sapphic ship at the heart of the series, which turned into a point of frustration for fans, who are well aware that shows marketed as "queer shows" tend not to find purchase with general audiences. And shows need general audiences, who are casual viewers that tend to appreciate epic shows with sweeping landscapes, well-liked leads, and a good balance between drama and humour, all of which Warrior Nun has. But none of that was highlighted by Netflix social accounts.

Meanwhile, on the fan side, over 8,000 fans of the show gave the second season a 99% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a record high for a season of television on Netflix. Critics rated the season at 100%, though it should be noted that only 10 certified reviewers ultimately rated the series, as Netflix made zero effort to draw in reviewers on their own. 10 critic reviews is enough for the average rating to appear, but not enough for Rotten Tomatoes to present a “critics consensus” on the season.

Despite breaking records, receiving high viewership with absolutely no promotion, and a wave of love and passion from the queer community, Simon Barry announced via tweet on December 13th that Netflix had decided not to pick the series up for a third season, to the heartbreak of millions. And, almost immediately after, fans scrambled to begin a campaign to save Warrior Nun.

The petition to save the show has since gained over 100,000 signatures, an impressive number and signing rate for a renewal campaign, while the campaign gofundme has earned over $20,000 for promotional efforts, including future electronic billboard appearances, and the fans have managed to tweet #SaveWarriorNun over 4.5 million times, all in under a month. Their determination is loud and proud on Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, and beyond, supported by much of the cast and crew, including Simon Barry himself, who commented on twitter that he would be looking into what it would take to find the show a new home.

While hope for Warrior Nun’s continuation at Netflix seems dead, fans are determined to earn the attention of other streaming networks who might be interested in a well produced show with a very large built-in fanbase. And it's likely for the best, as it’s become apparent that Netflix is in a very significant transitional period, if their recent cancelation of the well-received 1899 is any indication.

The streaming giant has just announced plans to build an $850 million studio on the heels of a wave of bad press, including backlash over perceived queer-baiting with their new series Wednesday, a disturbing trend of Sapphic-led show cancellations (now coined Cancel your Gays), and their inability to deliver on audience-scale promises to advertisers for their new ad-supported tier. Times are looking tough ahead for Netflix originals, and many are wondering where Netflix is drawing the line between making quality content and simply scrambling to gain subscribers. Or are they at all? Netflix was once expected to revolutionize television and film, but it has proven to make the landscape nothing but an all out battleground for audience attention. Fans of content, especially queer content, have lost the ability to simply enjoy the media they consume (if they ever had it). Now, the game is all about making noise to save shows, and it's become a full way of life for many who hope to seem themselves represented on TV for more than a quickly forgotten season. Either your show gets historic views, which is rare for queer-led content, or you can expect to fight tooth and nail for its continued existence. Networks sure make it hard not to feel like the representation they provided wasn't always just a metric to line their pockets.

Alas, as we wait to see how everything shakes out at Netflix and throughout the streaming and media landscape, The Save Warrior Nun campaign continues to rage on. It can use all the support it can get as fans work to gain the attention of other streamers who might benefit from the show’s built in queer representation, the kick-ass female-led cast, the large fanbase, and the remarkable team behind this chart-topping series. Will you join the cause?

1 commentaire

05 janv. 2023



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