Fandom-esque | Keep physical copies of your favorite shows, or risk losing them forever

Fandom-esque is a biweekly blog about the fandoms of the pop culture sphere and their latest ongoings in TV, film and more.

By Diana Velasquez, Senior Staff Writer

Have you ever met one of those guys who proudly totes his thousand-dollar entertainment system, complete with a towering stack of Blu-ray discs? He insists that having them is worth the price, even if you can’t remember the last time you put a disc into a machine to watch your favorite show. As it turns out, these enthusiasts might be right.

These days, it’s better to own a physical copy of your favorite show, rather than lose it to the mercy of streaming services like HBO Max. HBO’s streaming platform has been under scrutiny in the past few months, most recently for axing more than 37 of its titles — particularly those in animation.

Shows like “Aquaman: King of Atlantis,” “Infinity Train,” “Tig N’ Seek,” “Summer Camp Island,” “Esme and Roy,” “The Fungies!” and more were canceled. Some of these shows, like “Tig N’ Seek,” an animated children’s show starring an 8-year-old detective, were not only canceled but removed from the platform overnight and without warning on Aug. 18.

“Tig N’ Seek” art director Levon Jihanian made a distressed tweet early the next morning after finding the show gone. He emphasized that the show couldn’t be found anywhere else, not in a physical form like a DVD, but on illegal pirated sites.

The risk of streaming services isn’t news to members of the industry. While Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max and what seems like the other 10,000 streaming options have made TV and film more accessible, many of their original titles are accessible in only a digital form.

“Dickinson” creator Alena Smith tweeted on Aug. 3 about her last day on set, where she begged the Apple TV+ studio executive for a physical copy of her show. She said she owns the only physical copy of it in the world, and should the platform ever go down, no one else could ever see it.

The question remains, why did HBO remove these titles? The answer is what you’d expect from any big corporation — money.

Parent company AT&T merged HBO and Discovery, which has its own streaming platform called Discovery+. Following the announcement in April, progress began on merging the companies, along with their streaming platforms.

As a part of this merger, HBO and Discovery took stock of their upcoming and current projects and decided to write off films like “Batgirl” for tax benefits. According to the Hollywood Reporter, new WarnerBros Discovery CEO David Zaslac will prioritize theatrical releases. “Batgirl,” which was slated for a digital release, had acquired an extra $90 million dollars in COVID-19 costs.

“Batgirl” was going to be another entry in the DC Extended Universe starring Leslie Grace in the titular role. Michael Keaton, who famously held the role of Batman in the late 1980s, was returning to the role in the film, setting the stage for future appearances in movies like “The Flash.” 

If things couldn’t get any bleaker for the film creators, “Batgirl” was almost completely finished. And the cut of the movie that existed was completely wiped from the Warner Bros.’ computer servers, according to director Billal Fallah. 

The movie no longer exists in any accessible form.

While logically I can recognize the executive decision made to cut films like “Batgirl” or the plethora of other animated shows HBO Max gutted recently — money makes the world go ‘round is a saying that never loses its shine — that doesn’t make the impact on creatives less heartbreaking.

There are many issues with streaming platforms, but the fact that they allow creators to be more inventive with their stories can outweigh the negatives. The reality is that more diverse and ground-breaking shows often find homes on these platforms when they’re not squeezed by prime-time cable TV slots.

These shows include HBO Max’s “Our Flag Means Death,” a fictional rom-com retelling of the life of Stede Bonnet, also known as “the Gentleman Pirate.” The show is explicitly queer and BIPOC friendly and has amassed a dedicated fandom online in only a few short months.

Fans of the show expressed their fear and concern on the trending section of Twitter after HBO began cutting shows. Luckily, “Our Flag Means Death” remains in production and will be returning next year for season 2.

For bewildered fans, Warner Bros. Discovery provided some insight, besides the monetary value, into why these shows were being canceled. According to pop culture news site The Mary Sue, during the Warner Bros. Discovery’s second quarter 2022 earnings call on August 4, the company included digital slides which showcased the platforms’ supposed “skews.”

Apparently, HBO Max is for the “boys” and Discovery is for the “girls.” I guess I’ll have to take all my Game of Thrones posters off the wall and replace them with the House Hunters logo.

The sad truth is there’s not much that fans can really do to combat the blatant misogyny or money-motivated cancellations, but there are some creatives like the folks at Sesame Street who have put all of the show’s episodes up on YouTube for free in response to HBO.

Not everything can be saved — the internet is a black hole that chews up, spits out and swallows what it pleases. But if a show or movie you love is releasing a DVD, you should splurge, even if you don’t have a DVD player — it might be a worthwhile purchase.