“Why [would you] harm something you love because you’re disappointed with how it’s being released?” asks Eric Kripke as Season 2 drops to a 2.7 star rating (out of 5) on Prime Video.
Review bombing has become one of the uglier sides of fanboy whining, but it’s usually been relegated to outcry over women and/or people of color daring to have storylines or be main characters in projects like the “Star Wars” saga and Marvel movies.
Now, they’ve turned their attention to Amazon Prime’s “The Boys” for its second season. But this time, they don’t appear to have an issue with the content of the show, its characters or any of its storylines. Instead, they’re mad about how it’s being released, and showrunner Eric Kripke is understandably frustrated about it.
Unlike Season 1, “The Boys” sophomore run is being released on a weekly schedule, more like traditional television. It’s not something unheard of on streaming, where shows from Hulu to Disney+ (and even the occasional Netflix project) have been presented this way.
But the more common format for streaming shows is to dump an entire season at once, to allow for binge-watching. That’s what “The Boys” did for its first season, and that’s why fans are outraged that the show dares make them wait for new installments this time around.
While “The Boys” second season is sitting pretty at 98 percent Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, its audience score is only 81 percent, and it’s even worse on Prime Video itself, where its ranking barely above average with a 2.7 out of 5.
Of course, all this really does is expose a fatal flaw in the ranking system, one fanboys have been exploiting for several years now to amplify their petty complaints. And this time, a quick scan of those negative reviews shows that the vast majority of them are all about the show’s release schedule.
“I get that people are disappointed and, frankly, looking back, we thought that we were communicating that we were weekly,” Kripke told TheWrap in an interview last week. And they were, with Amazon heavily promoting the new season as coming out weekly.
Apparently, though, fans weren’t bothering to pay attention to that, instead just expecting it to be released the same way the first season was.
“Clearly, in hindsight, we had to do a lot more than we did to make sure that people weren’t surprised and disappointed,” he continued. “I would have done that differently. I mean, again, we announced it. But we should have neon-signed it on everything, clearly.”
The bottom line, though, is that he can’t fathom “why you would harm something you love because you’re disappointed with how it’s being released.”
Luckily, as it’s so patently obvious how lame these review bombs are, Kripke has no concerns that it will actually impact the show in any way, which recently got picked up for a third season.
“We’re fine, and it’ll be fine, but it’s not fun to see bad reviews on a thing people actually love,” he said. “Like, that doesn’t make the people who make the show feel good. I’ll say that.”
Further, they’re actually complaining about a creative decision made by Kripke and the show’s production team. “One thing they need to understand is, this is not like a corporate, Amazon money grab,” said Kripke. “This was from the producers. We wanted this. It was a creative choice.”
“So they may like it or not like it, but they have to at least respect that the people who are making the show wanted it to be released this way because we wanted to have time to sort of slow down a little bit and have conversations about everything,” he continued.
One of the drawbacks of the binge model is that a show only remains in the news cycle for a few weeks at most. “Stranger Things” and “The Haunting of Hill House” are both pop culture juggernauts, but neither holds the spotlight longer than a month with each drop.
Compare that to “Lost” or “Breaking Bad,” which were able to hold sustained interest from the public week in and week out by having that more traditional release schedule. Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a more current example of a show that enjoys that same benefit with the weekly schedule.
“The Boys” received a lot of good buzz and press upon the release of its first season, but it faded quickly in an era of peak television and that next shiny new project released. Already this season has seen more sustained interest and analysis of each episode as it premieres.
It’s not to say one is better than the other, but to say that there is a difference in how shows are analyzed and consumed depending on how they are released. And that release plan is absolutely a part of the creative vision a production team might have for their project.
Plus, as Kripke says, why make an effort to destroy something you love with review bombs over something like a release schedule?
What if Prime Video were to just look at the review numbers — we know they look at algorithms when making programming decision — without digging into what fans are complaining about and decide fans must be hating the direction of the show and pull the plug?
Would fans rather not have “The Boys” at all if they can’t have it the way they want it?
New episodes of “The Boys” drop every Friday on Amazon Prime Video.
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