When HBOMax's parent company, WarnerMedia, merged with Discovery Inc earlier this year, we knew that there were going to be some changes. Discovery inherited a mountain of debt--more than $53 billion dollars--and the new CEO David Zaslav was promising to turn that number into $3 billion worth of savings. It was ambitious and terrifying.
Fans knew that some of their favorite shows were going to be canceled, and many of them were already in limbo. Campaigns sprouted up all across the internet. Suddenly bots and desperate fans were replying to every Tweet in sight, begging HBO for mercy. Viewers had spent so long gorging on what seemed to be an infinite buffet of quality programming, and they weren't about to let that end without making their voices heard.
HBO was ruthless. As of today, they've removed more than 80 titles from their lineup. Westworld is gone. The Nevers is no more. Even cheap reality shows like FBOY Island and Finding Magic Mike were taken down, and many people believed that they were safe. The loss was overwhelming. But nothing was felt more succinctly than the loss of Raised By Wolves.
If you haven't seen Raised By Wolves, hunt it down, absorb every single second, and pray that someone finds it in their heart to continue the franchise. There's nothing else like it on television. The story centers around two androids, Mother and Father, who were sent to Keppler 22-b to raise a group of human embryos. The Earth had been destroyed in a war between two factions, the Atheists and the Mithraic, and the human race was nearly extinct.
At first, it seemed like the point of the series was to promote atheism over theism. The Mithraic were brutal, theocratic crusaders who lived under a strict hierarchy. They carried their leaders on palanquins and followed their every command like it was a mandate directly from God. Their atheist counterparts were enlightened and scientific. They wanted to create a pacifist society based on reason. It was a basic, predictable theme, but for many, it was enough to keep us enthralled.
As the story unfolded we began to realize that there was more going on behind the scenes--a cosmic mystery, woven from ancient myth. It was intricate and beautiful. Fans went wild. They'd get together and hold endless debates about where the story was going. They'd take screenshots and try to translate ancient Mithraic. The level of devotion was astounding, and it was well-deserved. They knew that Aaron Guzikowski had spent years creating the concept, and they wanted to honor his efforts.
When the second season was delayed due to COVID, fans couldn't take it. The series was starting to blur the lines between fantasy and science fiction, and we were beginning to get a glimpse of the cosmic mystery behind the plot.
They spent their time watching and rewatching the episodes, hoping to glean clues about what would come next. There were cave paintings and drawings to analyze, along with a hefty dose of symbolism spread throughout each episode. It was intricate and multi-layered. They had enough material to last them a lifetime, and they certainly did their best to get through all of it.
By the time the second season aired, many people were convinced that they knew exactly what was going on. They were all wrong. Guzikowski is the master of the twist. He sets up perfectly crafted red herrings, and then he throws out something completely unexpected. It was a thrill. Nobody could get enough, and word about the series was starting to get out. People wanted to know what the hype was about, which was why everyone was so surprised by what happened next.
The second season ended on a cliffhanger. It was a disturbing fever dream, and we were all left on the edge of our seats. We couldn't wait another year to find out what happened. At the same time, rumors were starting to surface. Streaming was changing. Netflix announced its first drop in subscribers in more than a decade in April, not long before the finale, and investors were throwing a fit. They were calling it a streaming recession. Purse strings tightened. What was once a free-for-all became a free-falling market, and those in the know were worried their favorite shows were going to get cut.
Raised By Wolves was wildly popular. The demand for the series was high. Reviews were stellar, and while we didn't have access to viewer numbers, we could gauge support with social media. The show was thought to be safe until things went quiet. There was no word about a third season. Usually, we'd hear about renewals within a week or two after the finale aired. But weeks passed, and then a month, and we weren't hearing anything at all.
At the same time, the new CEO Zaslav was starting to gain attention. People in the industry loved him. He confirmed their paranoia about the nature of the market, and he was ready to start trimming the fat. It seemed like the way to go. They saw him as a rockstar, ahead of his time. Fans saw him as a butcher, destroying franchises and selling out the platform. People were worried he would be doing away with scripted shows altogether, opting instead for Bravo-esque Housewives rip-offs and cheap competitions like FBOY Island. It was the death of art, and art mattered to us quite a bit.
As time went on, certainty began to grow. Some people believed they were just waiting for the merger. They didn't think it would be possible HBOMax to cancel the series. But Zaslav was speaking openly about mass cancellations and freaky sci-fi didn't seem to fit into his game plan. The show was too expensive. It was ambitious. It dealt with strange subjects. In his eyes, Bachelor knock-offs were cheaper, and they commanded a much larger audience.
Shortly after that, Abu Salim, who played Father in the series confirmed our suspicions. He posted a call to action on the subreddit, saying that they had been negotiating with HBOMax and things had fallen through. He wanted the fans to come out in support of the series and build a movement to promote it.
Save Raised By Wolves
I saw his post the second he wrote it, and I immediately began working with several others to build a campaign headquarters where we could strategize and help spread the word. In less than an hour, I was speaking directly with Abu. He offered his support. He thanked us for what we were doing, and he'd drop in from time to time, encouraging our efforts.
Running a fan campaign is a strenuous process. We had crowds of supporters spreading the word, contacting streaming platforms, tweeting, creating fan art, and posting on Facebook. We reached out to media, making connections with entertainment journalists and influencers. People were eager to hear our message. It seemed like everyone we contacted was willing to help, and it did work. We gained the attention of Forbes writer Erik Kain. Hassan Abi, a wildly popular vlogger, seemed to show interest. People came to us, and the cast and crew watched from the sidelines, brimming with optimism.
We called our movement Save Raised By Wolves, and it's still operating to this day. Everyone reading this is more than welcome to join us. Share our Twitter and spread the word.
After weeks of work, we were told that the show might not get made any time soon. Things seemed to have fallen through on the business side of things. The studio had other projects, and while they were able to gain the interest of other streaming platforms, things didn't work out.
It was a hard day for many of us. Tears were shed. We reveled in our anger and sadness and bonded over it. We worked so hard. We made inroads, and it still didn't work. Now HBOMax has taken the step of removing the series from its platform. They were tired of having to pay residuals. It was costing them money. It was the ultimate slap in the face.
When news got out about what they had done, though, something amazing happened. Interest in the series increased by magnitudes. Post engagement shot through the roof. We have more people contacting us now than when the show was canceled. Most people had no idea what was going on until they heard about the show being taken down from the platform.
Why the Renewed Interest Matters
When Abu Salim updated us on the progress of the campaign, he told us that connections have been made to turn the series into a graphic novel or something similar. Aaron Guzikowski has mentioned that several times in interviews, but we haven't heard anything about the project since. We were also told that it was our movement that made that possible, and that's something that people need to understand.
If you want an investor to hand you money, you have to prove that there's a potential for profit. They need to know that they are getting a return, and the best way to do that is to prove that fans still care about the franchise. They have to show that they're willing to tune in, and they have to do so in large numbers.
If we want to show this series continued, we have to say so. Contact streaming platforms on Twitter. Write them suggestions using the contact forms on their websites. That might seem dumb, but they tally those suggestions. They do studies to gauge our interest. What we say matters. Listening to the audience is the only way to create a successful franchise.