Since the merger of Warner Bros and Discovery, viewers have seen a lot of shows cancelled due to the merger of the two media entities. The most recent cancellations include Doom Patrol and Titans by HBO Max.
Shows like Tuca & Bertie, Gordita Chronicles, and Whistleblower were all canceled after the merger, and now the creators of the three shows have spoken out about the move to cancel their shows and others.
The creators are upset about the cancellation of diverse programming with Gordita Chronicles being a series about a Dominican immigrant family and Tuca & Bertie featuring two lead women of color (Tiffany Hadish and Ali Wong). Whistleblower was to focus on Natalie Khawam and the case of missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén but the project was cancelled after being purchased by HBO Max.
The comments by Claudia Forestieri, Lisa Hanawalt, and Moisés Zamora were shared in a bulletin to the WGA:
“I got into television to counter the negative mainstream stereotypes about Latino communities and tell stories like ‘Gordita Chronicles,’ which features a young Dominican girl who immigrates with her family to Miami. The showrunner and I did everything in our power to set the show up for success, and the first season was showered with positive reviews and strong viewership numbers. But after the merger, HBO Max was given a new mandate from its Discovery leadership to cut costs and Gordita Chronicles was cancelled just five weeks after first airing, and will now even be removed from the platform. The studio executives claimed the cancellation reflected HBO ‘rebranding’—by implication, away from shows about Latino families. This merger has provided pretty stark and immediate evidence that industry consolidation not only harms diversity and inclusion, but can also contribute to the erasure of U.S. Latinos.”
— Claudia Forestieri, creator and executive producer of “Gordita Chronicles”
“I originally created ‘Tuca & Bertie’ for Netflix, but when they canceled it after just one season, we fought to get the series picked up at Warner’s Adult Swim network. The women-led series had been a cult hit and a critical darling—the Warner execs knew it needed advertising support and time to grow viewers in the male-dominated adult animation space. But the merger went through right before the most recent season launched, and almost everyone who worked on the ‘Tuca & Bertie’ marketing team was laid off. Then several of the show’s main executives at Adult Swim and HBO Max left in the turmoil. Planned marketing projects to promote the new season didn’t happen. Then we learned the show had been cancelled. It’s already harder for shows centered on women, and this merger cost us the support we needed to thrive.”
— Lisa Hanawalt, creator and executive producer of “Tuca & Bertie”
“I created a drama that focused on women lawyers and advocates who fought against a culture of sexual harassment and corruption in the U.S. military, achieving historic gains after the murder of Mexican American soldier Vanessa Guillén at Fort Hood. After a competitive bidding process with multiple outlets, I sold Whistleblower to HBO Max in February 2021. During development, we received only compliments from our executives. The leads were three BIPOC women, and it was a story I was excited to tell. Despite it all, the series was canceled soon after the merger, before it went into production. The press speculation is that the new company is focusing more on what’s seen as ‘Middle America’ content. But Black, Asian, and Latinx communities are Middle America too.”
— Moisés Zamora, creator and executive producer of “Whistleblower”
Laura Blum-Smith, WGAW Director of Research and Public Policy, also spoke about the comments and the merger’s impact:
“Warner-Discovery is the latest disastrous merger to demonstrate the harms of consolidation, and particularly the threat to diversity when gatekeepers combine to increase their power. Almost immediately after closing, Warner Bros. Discovery broke the hollow promises it had made of merger benefits. As a result, writers—including many women and people of color—have lost opportunities and future income, while consumers are left with reduced variety and choice of content.”
What do you think? Have you been surprised by the cancellations since the Warner Bros. Discovery merger? Is there a show you wished had been renewed instead?
Zaslav & Malone are the poster children for everything that is wrong with corporate media consolidation.
Every media consolidation since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has had a net negative impact. But none of them have done so much damage in so little time as the Warner/Discovery massacre.