So … Did Amazon Just Decide They Were Too Relevant and Their Shows & Movies Were Too Good?
Over the last few years, Amazon has made a huge push to be taken seriously when it comes to original programming. They’ve distributed some of the best recent low-budget critical and awards darlings. Just to name a few, Amazon has been behind The Handmaiden, The Big Sick, and Manchester By the Sea. They’ve produced some truly fantastic (and popular) original series, as well. The Man In the High Castle was huge for them. One Mississippi is, in my opinion, one of the best shows of recent years, on any network or platform. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel JUST won two major Golden Globe Awards (Best TV Comedy and Best Actress in a TV Comedy).
Amazon Studios has managed to break through and compete with both Netflix, which used to dominate the entire field of original streaming programming, as well as small prestige production companies.
That’s why their announcement to pivot away from smaller arthouse indie projects to more commercial ones doesn’t make a whole lof sense.
On the film side, Reuters is reporting that the studio is looking to buy films premiering at Sundance, specifically to “go after films with budgets in the $50 million range at the expense of indie projects costing around $5 million.”
On the television side, Amazon announced the cancellations of three shows today: Jean-Claude Van Johnson, I Love Dick, and, most upsettingly, One Mississippi. I have to admit that I only watched the original pilots of JCVJ and ILD (I loved the former), but the cancellation of One Mississippi is a huge loss. It’s not just that it’s a great show–though it is! Loosely based on some of Tig Notaro’s own experiences, the show is about a woman who moves back home to Mississippi following her own cancer diagnosis and double mastectomy and preceding the imminent death of her mother.
And it’s incredible. It’s hilarious and heartbreaking, Tig Notaro’s performance is perfection, and every one of the supporting characters is amazing to watch.
But it’s also almost absurdly timely. The second season premiered in September of 2017, a month before the first article claiming allegations of sexual misconduct Harvey Weinstein was published, ostensibly the inciting moment of the current sexual harassment reckoning. Before the Weinstein outing, before Louis C.K.’s outing, before we were having these large-scale conversations about the difference between sexual assault, harassment, coercion, and all the just generally creepy moments women have to deal with as the background to their entire lives, One Mississippi was having them on television, and having them well.
In the second season, Notaro and co-creator Diablo Cody wrote an episode around Tig’s coworker Kate (played by her real-life partner Stephanie Allynne) being forced to watch a man masturbate in front of her during a business meeting. This was something Louis C.K. (himself a producer on the show, if in name only) had as of then been rumored to do–something he has since admitted to doing.
The show also included painfully relatable conversations about what we as women train ourselves to brush off as just another weird thing some dude did, things that when we’re forced to really analyze them, may have been more serious than we let ourselves believe, or that maybe shaped our worldviews and views of men to a degree we couldn’t acknowledge.
One Mississippi is the #MeToo show we need. It’s led by women onscreen and off, having the tricky conversations we’re all finding ourselves wading through. On her Facebook page, expressing her disappointment today, Tig promised that “season 3 was already shaping up to be quite the force” and I don’t doubt that for a second.
The Hollywood Reporter wrote that “Amazon Studios is cleaning house,” implying that this is a move to distance the company from former execs Roy Price and Joe Lewis, both of whom were ousted over sexual harassment allegations. They likely also want some distance between themselves and C.K., though since the show is co-produced by FX, he’d already reportedly been dropped from production.
I get all of that. But canceling one of the greatest, most feminist shows, not just on their platform, but anywhere, seems like a terrible way to “clean house.” Why not keep this show, promote it more, and pay everyone more? If Amazon is looking for good optics, this is the kind of show they should be throwing money at. Maybe consider bringing back Good Girls Revolt while they’re at it. Then they get good PR and we get great shows. Everybody wins.
(image: Amazon Studios)
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