YouTuber The Critical Drinker recently provided the five steps Hollywood production studios take to kill a franchise following Netflix’s recent cancellation of Cowboy Bebop after just one season.
While it appears Cowboy Bebop was the inspiration to list out these five steps, The Critical Drinker noted the steps also apply to other recent shows like Y: The Last Man and Masters of the Universe: Revelation.
However, he specifically breaks down how Cowboy Bebop fits into the five steps.
The five steps, which the Drinker calls “The Drinker’s Five Steps for Franchise Destruction” are Choose a Victim, Totally F*** It Up, Do A Rian Johnson, Bite The Dust, and Not My Fault.
The Drinker explains the five steps saying, “Step 1. Pick a really popular IP with a loyal fanbase. Step 2. Update it for ‘modern audiences.’ Step 3. Antagonize the fanbase prior to release. Step 4. Get cancelled due to low ratings. Step 5. Blame the fanbase for steps one to four.”
Choose a Victim (Pick A Really Popular IP With A Loyal Fanbase)
The YouTuber then went on to detail Netflix’s live-action Cowboy Bebop adaptation implemented the five steps.
For Step 1 he touts Cowboy Bebop’s original anime series stating, “Cowboy Bebop is seen as one of the most influential animes ever made and it’s got an extremely loyal fan base in both Eastern and Western markets.”
“So, if you’re a greedy corporation looking to profit from someone else’s work and milk an existing fan base for all it’s worth then Cowboy Bebop is a natural choice,” he adds.
Totally F*** It Up (Update It For ‘Modern Audiences’)
For Step 2, he explains, “It wasn’t until 2021 that the first teaser images were released and, well, it didn’t look good. None of the actors looked much like their anime counterparts least of all Daniella Pineda as Faye Valentine.”
“Not only was she a completely different height and build of the character, but instead of the flamboyant and seductive outfits she wears in the anime, now she was decked out in a dull as f*** leather jacket and oversized shirt. Not exactly thrilling stuff and fans were quick to pick up on it,” he elaborated.
The Drinker goes on to cite the show’s Lead Costume Designer Jane Holland’s comments about Valentine’s outfit. Holland stated, “I do have to say, as a woman, I felt resistant to the idea of the lead female character being gratuitous or overtly sexualized.”
“It’s not about it not being revealing, it’s not about any of that, it’s actually got all of those elements. But my take on it is that it’s designed by a woman and it was made by a lot of women, and it’s worn by a woman. So the same elements are there but they have just manifested in a different way,” Holland stated.
Later in the video, he states, “Basically, it seemed like all the elements that made the original so fun and entertaining were being stripped away to make it conform to modern Hollywood sensibilities.”
“Because obviously you can’t produce anything today which goes against ‘the message,'” he concluded.
While the Drinker doesn’t mention it, the show would also turn Faye Valentine into a bisexual in the series’ sixth episode titled “Binary Two-Step.”
In that episode, Valentine is shown to have an implied a sexual encounter with Netflix’s original character, Mel.
Do A Rian Johnson (Antagonize The Fanbase Prior To Release)
Moving on to step 3, the Drinker says, “Clearly the Faye Valentine was a bit of a sore spot for fans, but ultimately it was just a minor aspect of the show and it probably would have blown over if everyone had just kept their heads down and got on with their work.”
“Clearly, Daniella Pineda had other ideas and decided to release a video where she gave her thought on the situation,” he continued.
A clip of Pineda doing just that is shown.
If you recall, she stated, “I wanted to apologize to the fans that I did not anatomically match the Faye Valentine character. Six foot, double D sized breasts, two inch waist.”
The actress continued, “You know they looked everywhere for that woman and they couldn’t find her. It was kind of weird. So they just went with my short a**, I know am I right?”
The Drinker shares his analysis, “This really is one of those situations where you ought to have taken a step back, considered what you were about to do, and asked yourself honestly, ‘Is this really going to help or will it just piss people off, pour gas on the fire, and make me look like a total asshole?'”
However, The Critical Drinker adds, “The funny thing is, I’m not entirely unsympathetic to Daniella’s situation. First up, no amount of training is going to make you six inches taller and double the size of your chest. To be honest they probably should have just cast someone else instead. And as cool as Faye looks in the anime, well, I think it’s fair to say her costume isn’t exactly practical.”
Bite The Dust (Get Cancelled Due To Low Ratings)
Moving to Step 4, The Drinker notes, “After alienating a good portion of the fan base it was no surprise that most of them didn’t bother to tune in when the show finally released.”
“And for those that did bother to watch it nearly 60 percent of them had deserted it by the second episodes. Netflix couldn’t wait to pull the plug on this stinker,” the YouTuber continued.
“And just a few weeks after the release it was announced that Cowboy Bebop had been cancelled,” he stated.
While the Drinker says nearly 60 percent of viewers stopped watching the show by the second episode, that isn’t technically correct. According to Netflix’s Top 10 website, the week the show premiered it was the sixth most popular show on the streaming service with 21.6 million hours viewed.
In its second week it would jump to the second most popular show with 36.95 million hours viewed. However, in its third week the show had dropped to the ninth show in Netflix’s Top 10 list with only 15.2 million hours viewed. The decline from week two to week three is almost 60%.
The show no longer appears on Netflix’s Top 10 list for the week of December 6th to December 12th. The 10th most popular show is Selling Sunset: Season 4, which had 11.1 million hours viewed. That means Cowboy Bebop’s hours viewed were at least below that.
Not My Fault (Blame The Fanbase)
Finally, the Drinker gets to the last step, where he points to the show’s Script Coordinator Naomi Markman.
He states, “As soon as the cancellation was announced Markman immediately took to Twitter to have a complete meltdown about the situation.”
He goes on to point out one of the tweets Markman wrote, where she says, “not to rub it in your faces, but as the individual who has read the cowboy bebop s2 scripts more than anyone else in this world – f*** you’re missing out.”
He also cited Jet Black actor Mustafa Shakir’s Instagram post.
Shakir wrote on Instagram, “Netflix went balls to wall for us in order to get it done. They really looked out for us when s*** hit the fan. But at the end of the day business is business and this was a big ship that needed a lot of fuel.”
He added, “Maybe the ‘haters’ and the critics got us maybe it wasn’t as good as we thought. All I know is we got this done under the craziest conditions and I’m proud of what we did. Thank you for dreaming with us. See you space cowboys.”
The Drinker then states, “I guess that should be the big takeaway for all the creatives and executives behind this show. You basically killed it yourself before it even released because you did almost everything wrong.”
“But probably your biggest mistake was, well, trying to make the thing in the first place,” he adds.
The Drinker then chides Netflix and its executives and producers explaining why the popularity of anime is on the rise and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba outsells the entire American comic book industry.
He says, “That reason is very simple. It’s not made by people like you. It’s not constrained by the ridiculous puritanical rules that have basically neutered Western movie studios. It’s not trying to pander to social activist groups that’ll never even bother to watch it, no matter how much you try to court them.
“It’s not trying to relentlessly push ‘the message.’ It’s just there to tell a good story with interesting characters,” he concludes.
What do you make of “The Drinker’s Five Steps for Franchise Destruction?” What other franchises fit the pattern?