Why Was The Owl House Canceled by Disney? | CBR – CBR – Comic Book Resources

The Owl House was praised for its innovation and unique storytelling, but it was apparently a little too unique for some Disney executives.
When The Owl House debuted on Disney in January 2020, the animated series received nearly unanimous praise. Not only was The Owl House seen as creative and original content, but the series was also praised for its use of multiple LGBT characters in its storyline. That included principal protagonist Luz Noceda who develops a relationship with one of the show’s other main characters, Amity Blight. Its stellar critical acclaim and copious awards were not enough to prevent it from cancelation, however. A third and final season, consisting of three 44-minute episodes — presumably tying up the show’s various plot threads — will air sometime in 2022.
But that’s not the end of the story. In October 2021, Owl House creator Dana Terrace posted a scathing statement on Reddit, claiming that the show was canceled not due to poor ratings or problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, but because a few people in the upper echelons at Disney didn’t feel it matched the brand. Such a justification is, frankly, absurd, and if Terrace’s allegations are true, it’s a demonstration of how difficult it can be to release something that goes against formula on a major streaming service.
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Disney’s brand is more of an issue with the company than most because so much of its reputation hinges on perceived family friendliness. There are no R-rated films on its streaming service, for example, and after its acquisition of 20th Century Fox, there is still some question of how it intends to develop adult-oriented content such as the Alien and Predator franchises. None of that applies to The Owl House, which is aimed squarely at family audiences and younger viewers. But its unique content – very much a part of what has earned it so much praise – steps outside its parent company’s perceived comfort zone.
Terrace’s statement stipulates that the decision to cancel the show likely wasn’t based on its LGBT content. Rather, she cited its serialized content – aimed at audiences younger than Disney+ wanted – as the reasoning, claiming it came down to subjective taste rather than anything concrete, such as ratings. The allegations, if true, are certainly supportable. The idea of Disney+ skewing older is patently absurd as the service includes copious Disney Junior content specialized for the very young, while its popular line of Marvel Cinematic Universe programming is almost uniformly serialized.
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The Owl House‘s content definitely strays off the beaten path, very much by design. Terrace claims that the surreal paintings of Hieronymus Bosch served as major inspiration. The show’s world – the Boiling Isles – was created from the body of a dead god, where demons and monsters are an accepted part of society. It satirizes the boarding school world of the Harry Potter books – presenting a variation of its famous magical school reimagined as conform-laded and mildly terrifying – while simultaneously exploring issues of individuality and rebellion. It’s also a poke at live-action children’s shows of the ’70s such as H.R. Pufnstuf and Lidsville, which featured similarly disturbing worlds without the knowing wink that The Owl House adds to it.
Most importantly, it’s an astonishingly creative act of world-building, presenting a fantasy universe that looks like nothing that came before it and a rich story arc that constantly defies expectations. This all might certainly be enough to make boardroom members uncomfortable in a company known for comforting, but, ironically, company founder Walt Disney built his name and his company by defying established convention of that very sort, most famously with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, created in the face of tremendous skepticism amid predictions of disaster.
And yet it isn’t the first time Disney has pushed away talented artists whose vision didn’t conform to their expectations. Tim Burton famously departed the company before launching his directing career, as did animators like Don Bluth. The Owl House cuts very much against the Disney grain, presenting characters who march to their own beat in a world that defies any expectations. It’s the kind of storytelling that should be encouraged at a company like Disney, and instead has become another unfortunate chapter in a long-standing trend.
KEEP READING: The Owl House Season 2: Premiere, Story, Trailer & News to Know
A native Californian, Rob Vaux has been a critic and entertainment writer for over 20 years, including work for Collider, Mania.com, the Sci-Fi Movie Page, and Rotten Tomatoes. He lives in the Los Angeles area, roots for the Angels, and is old enough to remember when Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was a big deal.


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