Despite coming off success at the Golden Globes, where The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won multiple awards, Amazon has cancelled three of their most successful original comedy series: I Love Dick, which starred Kevin Bacon, Tig Notaro‘s One Mississippi, and the high concept series Jean Claude Van Johnson, starring Jean Claude Van Damme.
It’s a major surprise considering the positive reception to the two former series, and that Jean Claude Van Johnson only premiered in December. These bold decisions continues the aggressive shift away from the more niche programming that Amazon became known for under former Amazon Studios president Ray Price, who was fired last year following a sexual harassment investigation.
Prior to his dismissal, Price had been told by Amazon head Jeff Bezos to abandon the niche programming and look towards something with much broader appeal like Game Of Thrones. This has led to Amazon abandoning their previous strategy of producing TV pilots and letting audiences pick which ones were made into a full series under the ‘Amazon Pilots Series’ banner.
Instead, the company is investing in more series that they think will be bigger cross-demographic hits with more international appeal. Which is why a few months ago they purchased the rights for a massive series based on J.R.R. Tolkien‘s The Lord Of The Rings.
In the search for their own Game Of Thrones, Amazon is doing away with the kind of shows that got their feet off the ground in the first place. Streaming rival Netflix has found success by commissioning shows of all different sizes, catered to various demographics.
With Amazon going the opposite direction, and looking for few but expensive and grand original series, it’ll be interesting to see which strategy proves to be more successful.