Looks like my fears about HBO Max becoming more like Discovery+ were completely warranted. Since the merger was approved earlier this year, it was always going to end up this way. But it’s one thing to talk about it and another thing to see it happening.
Further evidence from Variety that things are going to get weird: ‘Fixer Upper’ and Other Magnolia Network Shows Coming to HBO Max in September. There’s a fair chance that we’ll soon have to scroll on past enormous banner images of such illustrious shows as 90 Day Fiancé, Alaskan Killer Bigfoot, I Love a Mama’s Boy, World’s Most Evil Killers, and My Five Wives to get to The Sopranos and Game of Thrones.
I enjoy stuff like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives as much as the next person, but I don’t think it should share space with The Wire. Conversely, I’d bet that people who love what’s currently on offer at Discovery+ don’t want to see the sort of stuff that’s on HBO Max mixed together.
More concerning is the recent spate of original programming that’s recently been canceled or removed from HBO Max. These include:
And they’ve also announced that kids’ content will be cut, which is a damn shame. For anyone of a certain age, i.e., my age, the WB cartoon shows from the ‘90s were revolutionary.
I’m sure I’m missing some, but that’s already a hefty list. With the way things have been going lately, I’m sure it’ll grow longer.1
A little over a year ago, I said that AT&T (the former owner of Warner Bros.) CEO, John Stankey, was one of the worst things to happen to the studio and HBO. It turns out that I was too early in that assessment: Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav is hard at work destroying what made HBO the powerhouse source of original storytelling it used to be. If former HBO CEO Richard Plepler was dead, he’d be rolling in his grave. Right now, he’s probably just shaking his head in frustration.
I’m hoping that my concerns will end up being unfounded. Perhaps some good can come out of this messiness. Deadline did also report that Zaslav said about HBO and HBO Max:
We’re going to spend dramatically more this year and next year than we spent last year [and] the year before.
Who knows what that’ll actually mean in the long term. I hope it won’t include abandoning all scripted television, as Screen Rant reports. However, given the figurative bloodbath that’s been occurring, I’m not going to hold my breath.
If you’re looking for a new place to enjoy excellent storytelling, I continue to heartily recommend just about everything on Apple TV+. Give Ted Lasso, For All Mankind, Severance, and See a try. They’re clearly building a brand focused on longevity and, most importantly, quality. It reminds me of what the old HBO used to be.