Sorry, Glenn Close and Bridget Everett
Amazon has decided not to move forward with any of its most recent set of comedy pilots.
This marks the rare time that the streamer has rejected every entry from a designated “pilot season,” wherein a group of potential premiere episodes are made available for Amazon Prime subscribers to watch, rate, and review. The system, which prioritized viewer feedback, yielded such success stories as Transparent and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the latter of which is currently up for two major Golden Globes including Best Comedy Series, but may soon come to an end as Amazon shifts more toward straight-to-series orders.
“The reality of the marketplace is it’s competitive and often you just have to go to series,” former Amazon Studios head Roy Price said in August. “We still have customer feedback, but will probably have fewer pilots for sure.” (Price resigned last month after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced.)
Further, the futures of series I Love Dick and One Mississippi, which are both half-hours, remain in limbo.
Amazon’s decision to reject each of its most recent public offerings, all half-hours, certainly indicates things are headed in that direction. The pilots were generally well-received by critics: Sea Oak, a surrealist dark comedy starring Glenn Close and created by George Saunders; Love You More, a starring vehicle for Bridget Everett; and The Climb, a Detroit-set sitcom created by Diarra Kilpatrick. “They’re all good and eccentric,” EW’s Darren Franich wrote in his review.
Meanwhile, Amazon has increasingly focused on straight-to-series orders, notably bringing David E. Kelley (Goliath) and Woody Allen (Crisis in Six Scenes), among others, into the fold that way. In addition, Variety reported earlier this year that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was mandating a programming shift toward “buzzy” dramas with “global appeal,” in the wake of middling dramas such as The Last Tycoon, Z: The Beginning of Everything, and Hand of God underperforming and eventually being canceled. These three pilots were developed under Price, whose replacement has not been named, and were niche and comedic in nature.
Each pilot also featured women in the main roles, notable given the male-skewing nature of Amazon’s programming and the recent sexual misconduct allegations that have rocked the streamer. In addition to Price quitting, David O. Russell’s expensive untitled drama was abruptly canceled after the downfall of disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was heavily involved in bringing the series to Amazon, and the future of flagship series Transparent remains in limbo after claims of misconduct were made against its Emmy-winning star Jeffrey Tambor.
Sea Oak, Love You More, and The Climb debuted on Amazon Prime on Nov. 10.