The animated series The Owl House gained almost universal acclaim when it premiered on Disney in January 2020. The Owl House was acclaimed for its originality and creativity and for including various LGBTQ+ characters in its plot. That featured the main heroine Luz Noceda, who romances Amity Blight, another of the show’s main characters. Nevertheless, its outstanding reviews and several prizes were insufficient to keep it from being canceled.
Three 44-minute specials make up the third and final season, which purportedly tie up the show’s many plotlines. The first of the three specials aired in October 2022; the others will follow in 2023. But the narrative is not over yet.
The show was canceled, according to The Owl House creator Dana Terrace, in October 2021, not because of low ratings or issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic but rather because some Disney executives didn’t think it fit with the company’s brand. Terrace made this accusation in a harsh statement that was posted on Reddit.
Such an explanation is utterly ludicrous, and it sparked a debate about Owl House that is still in the news today. If Terrace’s claims are accurate, Owl House’s cancellation serves as an example of how challenging it can be to release something that deviates from the norm on an effective streaming service.
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Why Was The Owl House Canceled?
Disney’s brand is a bigger problem for the corporation than others because so much of its reputation depends on how family-friendly it is thought to be. After Disney+ acquired 20th Century Fox, there were no R-rated programs or films for a while, and it’s still unclear how the company plans to create programming geared toward adults, like the Alien and Predator franchises.
The Owl House, primarily intended for family audiences and younger viewers, is exempt from that. But its distinctive material goes beyond the apparent comfort zone of its parent corporation, which is a big part of why it has garnered so much praise.
According to Terrace’s statement, the decision to terminate the show was probably not motivated by its LGBTQ+ material. Instead, she mentioned its serialized content—aimed at viewers younger than Disney+ desired—as the justification, contending that it was more a matter of personal preference than anything objective, like ratings.
If accurate, the accusations are unquestionably credible. The notion that Disney+ has a younger target audience is ludicrous, given the volume of Disney Junior material available on the platform and the nearly universal serialization of its Marvel Cinematic Universe offerings.
The Owl House Is Another Victim of Disney’s Censored Formula
The Owl House’s material undoubtedly deviates from the norm, and this is done on purpose. According to Terrace, Hieronymus Bosch’s bizarre paintings were a significant source of inspiration. The show’s universe, the Boiling Isles, where demons and monsters are accepted members of society, was made from the corpse of a dead god.
It explores concerns of individuality and rebellion while parodying the boarding school setting of the Harry Potter books (offering a version of its renowned magical school remade as conform-laden and moderately terrifying). It also makes fun of live-action children’s programs from the 1970s, like Lidsville and H.R. Pufnstuf, which featured equally unsettling settings but lacked The Owl House’s knowing smirk.
Most significantly, it’s an incredibly imaginative world-building effort that presents a fantasy setting unlike anything that has come before it and a rich narrative arc that consistently defies expectations. All of this might make boardroom participants uneasy in a business known for consoling.
Ironically, the founder of the corporation, Walt Disney, made his name and his business by bucking established conventions of that kind, most notably with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was produced in the face of extreme skepticism and dire predictions.
Disney has already dismissed talented artists whose vision didn’t match their expectations. Tim Burton and animators like Don Bluth famously left the business before beginning their careers as directors. With characters who follow their path in a world defying all assumptions, The Owl House goes very much against the Disney norm.
It’s the kind of storytelling that ought to be promoted at a corporation like Disney, but instead, it’s turned into another regrettable episode in a protracted trend.
The Owl House Season 3, Episode 2, “For the Future,” airs on Jan. 21, 2023, on the Disney Channel.
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