Earpers Won’t Give Up the Fight for Wynonna
This time last year, production was well underway on the highly anticipated third season of Syfy’s supernatural western Wynonna Earp. Cast and crew were working hard in the Calgary winter to continue the story of Wyatt Earp’s descendant and her extended family of half-angels, lizard-men, vampires, and undying revenants.
Season three was so anticipated, in fact, that the cast and crew were able to announce a season four pickup the day after it premiered, at a packed San Diego Comic Con panel, no less. Since season three, the show has won a People’s Choice Award and boasts one of the most vocal and awesome fanbases this side of the internet.
With that much energy and a schedule to keep, you’d expect season four to be well into production now, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Cameras have yet to roll on season four, and the devoted fans of the show, known as Earpers, have rallied to fight for it, and the cast and creators are right there with them.
The first signs of a problem came in late February, when fans fully expected season four to be well into production. On February 21, a fan tweeted to star Melanie Scrofano to enquire why filming hadn’t started, to which Scrofano replied, “I don’t know anything, unfortunately. All we know is we aren’t shooting right now and don’t know why.”
This, as well as tweets from showrunner Emily Andras, set alarms off for fans, who immediately got #FightForWynonna trending worldwide on Twitter amid panic that their beloved show was in jeopardy. Subsequently, Syfy reaffirmed their support for the show, stating that they remained fully committed to season four.
So what’s the holdup? The same thing that always gets in the way of good art getting to a wide audience: money.
This is going to get a little Bloomberg, but it’s important to understand the financial issues at play. The money problem is not with SyFf, the network that airs Wynonna Earp in the U.S. and already ordered a fourth and fifth twelve-episode season of the show; it’s with the studio that actual makes the program.
Wynonna Earp is produced by IDW Entertainment, an offshoot of IDW Publishing, which published the original Wynonna Earp comics by Beau Smith and owns the property. IDW Entertainment has recently seen a shakeup in leadership and, according to a public filing, is facing financial shortfalls requiring them to take out large loans from their own chairman, Howard Jonas, among other ongoing issues and delayed productions.
So, how does this affect Wynonna? SyFy’s order, which contractually obligates IDW to produce the show, only pays for half the cost of production, leaving the rest to IDW. If they can’t find that money, they can’t start production on the show. This doesn’t mean, at all, that IDW has given up on the show. In a statement to Vulture, they explained:
“IDW is committed to continuing to tell the Wynonna Earp story. Much like the fans, we are passionate about not only the series, but the comics, the characters and the overall message that the Wynonna Earp franchise carries. We are in the process of working out the details for how the Wynonna story will continue and will share new details very soon”
That statement came on February 22, nearly three weeks ago, and since then, IDW has maintained agonizing silence on the matter. (IDW was asked for comment on this story, as well, but has not responded as of publication).
But fans aren’t letting them forget what this show means to them.
The Fight for Wynonna campaign hasn’t stopped since that first tweet from Scrofano and is only gaining momentum as the delays continue. There is an official Fight for Wynonna page on a popular fan blog, managed by journalist and fan Bridget Liszewski and the hosts of the fan podcast Tales of the Black Badge, Kevin Bachelder and Bonnie Ferrar. Liszewski explained the fan mindset going into this fight:
“Wynonna Earp fans have always been quick to support the show and show how much it means to them. Instead of dwelling in that frustration, Earpers quickly took to social media and made it known that the delay was unacceptable, even trending worldwide as soon as the news broke. With not only one, but two seasons committed to by the networks, Earpers did what they do best and began politely No Chilling the powers that be to prove their love for the show.”
Fans have shown up on The Today Show with signs, tweeted constantly, and purchased multiple digital billboards in Times Square. The cast and crew are getting in on the fight, as well, with Andras, Scrofano, and Tim Rozon (Doc Holiday) also purchasing billboard time. An analog billboard just went up in Los Angeles, much to the delight of stars Katherine Barrell (Nicole Haught) and Varun Saranga (Jeremy Chetri).
The fan support for Wynonna Earp is astonishing, considering it’s a small show on a cable network, but in many ways, it’s not surprising at all. Wynonna Earp is an incredible show: funny, scary, and heartrending in turn. It’s built around a complex, flawed woman and her family; the cast and characters are diverse in race, gender, and sexuality; the story is always surprising; and the people behind it love it just as much as the fans.
Liszewski explained, “Wynonna Earp has always been more than just a TV show to so many fans, right from the start. It appeared at a time where queer women were being killed off at an alarming rate on TV and so characters such as Waverly Earp and Nicole Haught felt like a breath of fresh air.”
Wynonna Earp is unabashedly queer, boasting so many LGBTQ characters, which means the world to queer fans who still have to search hard for quality representation in media. Grassroots Wynonna conventions have sprung up around the world, and Earpers have raised serious funds for charity. The only fandom I know that comes close to this level of passion is for another Supernatural show that just passed 300 episodes (and on which Melanie Scrofano appeared in her first TV role).
As we wait for news of production getting underway, either from IDW finding the funds or selling the property, the one thing that’s certain is that Earpers will continue to do what their heroine would in a tough situation: fight until there’s no fight left, then take a swig of whiskey, make a vagina joke, and fight some more.
(image: Syfy/Seven Twe)
Jessica Mason is a writer and lawyer living in Portland, Oregon passionate about corgis, fandom, and awesome girls. Follow her on Twitter at @FangirlingJess.
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