good omens amazon season 2

Good Omens/Amazon

‘This probably happened because I’m on strike’: Neil Gaiman explains why ‘Good Omens’ subtitles are so bad in season 2

'Good Omens' fans criticized Amazon for offering error-filled subtitles in season 2.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw


Posted on Aug 2, 2023

Good Omens season 2 premiered last week, continuing the beloved fantasy story by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. But for some fans, the new season suffered due to a recurring technical problem: Crappy subtitles.

Low-quality captions aren’t exactly rare, with streaming services often being accused of cutting corners with rushed, shoddy subtitling. However, viewers didn’t expect this to be a problem with Good Omens, which reportedly had very accurate subtitles in season 1.

The drop in quality was so noticeable that fans called out certain inaccuracies like substituting the word “poultry” for “paltry.” This is obviously a particular problem for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers.

Good Omens‘ English subtitles include so many mistakes that fans are speculating about what went wrong. Were these AI-generated captions? Did the transcriber not understand regional British accents?

Replying to a question on Tumblr, showrunner Neil Gaiman explained that while he didn’t know the exact reason for the subtitle issues, it “probably happened because I’m on strike.” In season 1, he proofread the subtitles himself:

“I checked the closed captions that the BBC made and I checked the scripts that went out to foreign countries to be dubbed or subbed. For S2, Amazon did that stuff directly, and I was on strike and unable to do a final check and correct it.”

He added that he didn’t understand why season 2’s captions were so inaccurate, because the subtitle writer was meant to have access to the scripts.

This controversy is a perfect illustration of the unsung labor that goes into making a TV show. And, by extension, why shows that continued working through the WGA strike may run into problems.

In the 10-week period between the start of the writers’ strike and the start of the actors’ strike, numerous TV shows continued production while their writers were striking for fair pay. Studios claimed this was fine because they were filming with “finished scripts.” But screenwriters argued the final product would suffer without their input throughout the production process. Case in point: Those shoddy Good Omens subtitles.

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*First Published: Aug 2, 2023, 8:36 am CDT