You know what was great? Teen Titans. While I don’t need to make a list of reasons why Teen Titans was great, I could throw a couple at you. Starfire wasn’t a walking sex toy. A skilled writing staff managed to write jokes that made me laugh without wanting to put my head into a desk. Cyborg was clearly Black, but not an Erkel or a thug. Then there was Terra, who presented complicated notions of heroism, loyalty, and betrayal for a young audience. There was also the Puffy Am—shut up!—Puffy Amiyumi theme song. All of these things and others made for a great show. But it went the way of the dinosaur. If you ask Wil Wheaton, that was because the season 6 pitch didn’t go over favorably with the execs.
That’s the way it is with television shows. Many great shows are here today, gone tomorrow. Despite the efforts of many a Kickstarter or online petition, it takes much more than a vocal and obsessive fanbase to convince a company to reverse the decision to terminate a show. See: Firefly (which, by the way, was a decade ago, so maybe we should just let that wound heal). So many different things go into the cancellation of a show because it takes the cooperation of actors, animators if a show is animated, the owners of the creative property, production companies, etc., and I recognize that these things happen, but the cancellation of Young Justice genuinely broke my heart. There aren’t that many DC properties that I’ve ever really been into, so it was sad to see a critically acclaimed, Emmy-winning, mature, and compelling show disappear. That’s all right; I will learn to love again.
But the other day I was listening to Kevin Smith’s Fat Man on Batman podcast, which is a goldmine, and he was interviewing Paul Dini. Dini is a writer with a long career and a longer resume, and he has written for a show you like, no question. Dini gave a rather troubling answer as to why Young Justice was cancelled, along with other shows like Tower Prep. Apparently, those shows are too mature. They appeal to audiences that prefer complexity, and apparently those audiences don’t buy toys. Now, I acknowledge that televisions often live and die on advertising and merchandising. But there’s something much more disturbing in his answer. There’s a transcript here, and if you read far enough down you’ll encounter this comment about studio executives: Continue reading