The CW canceled a slew of shows this month, including The 4400 reboot and several DC Comics spinoffs like the cult favorite Legends of Tomorrow (seven seasons in), Ava DuVernay’s one-season newcomer Naomi, and Batwoman. Unsurprisingly, fans of certain shows have already launched renewal campaigns, with Batwoman and Legends as the frontrunners.
While Batwoman has run for three seasons, there’s a sense that it wasn’t fully given a chance to shine. The show faced a major upheaval when lead actor Ruby Rose departed in a cloud of controversy after season 1, with Javicia Leslie taking over as a new version of Batwoman in seasons 2 and 3. This led to a soft reboot partway through the show’s run.
In one of the renewal petitions, fans highlighted Batwoman‘s unique role as a superhero show with a queer Black protagonist: “Batwoman was a first for a number of things in the area of diverse characters and representation. The majority of the actors on this show are Black and Brown. […] Batwoman was also doing something that no other show did and that was proudly showcasing Black lesbian love on primetime TV.”
Meanwhile Legends of Tomorrow has momentum thanks to the way it built a very specific brand over the past six years. Starting out as a lighthearted crossover between several strands of the DC universe, it’s become known for two things: The unusual number of queer characters in its main cast and its penchant for quirky storytelling. Basically it’s much weirder than something like Arrow or Supergirl, featuring zany sci-fi storylines that echo Doctor Who and vintage Star Trek.
Many of the CW’s recent cancelations starred people of color or queer characters in the lead roles, contrasting with the network’s longest-running shows. In the case of Batwoman and Naomi, this partly stems from the way superhero franchises gradually diversified their lineups. The CW launched its DC franchise with shows starring white men (Arrow and The Flash), which became flagship brands with considerable staying-power. Meanwhile the spinoffs with more diverse protagonists arrived later, after the superhero genre was beginning to feel crowded—which potentially impacted their ratings.
So far the #SaveBatwoman and #SaveLegendsOfTomorrow campaigns include petitions, hashtags, and billboards on the streets of New York, endorsed by the shows’ cast and creators. However, they’re not quite as noisy as some successful renewal campaigns we’ve seen in the past, for example, The Expanse.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, this wave of CW cancelations came down from the network’s parent companies CBS and Warner Bros., because the CW has never been profitable outside of Netflix/international syndication rights. With Warner Bros. focusing on HBO Max, and the CW destined to be sold to new owners, it was time to axe some of the network’s more expensive and/or low-rated programming. Batwoman and Legends were reportedly singled out because Warner Bros. no longer wanted to pay for their studio space, so it will be an uphill battle for fans to achieve a renewal on Warner’s HBO Max, one of the main targets for these campaigns.
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