8 Unexpectedly Successful Series Nobody Trusted


It is frustrating to see the number of promising projects that end up going nowhere due to the decisions of a few who speak for everyone. This is something that executives of major studios have made a habit of, conditioning the tastes of the public, often in a way that is insulting to intelligence.

The history of television and, more recently, streaming, is full of cases where a series that no one bet on, receives an opportunity and ends up breaking all the schemes.

Some even manage to become cultural icons that endure in the memories of fans and are huge hits in reruns, even years after the airing of their final episodes.

Today, in HobbyCine, we’ll tell you the story of 8 series that no one had faith in, and ended up triumphantly.

## Lo que hacemos en las sombras

At the mid-2010s, talking about “What We Do in the Shadows” meant referring to the independent cult film by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement about a group of vampires sharing a house in New Zealand. Although the movie has its fans, adapting its story to a series format, and moving the action to Staten Island with a new cast, was a huge risk. FX saw potential where no one else did, hitting the nail on the head with a series that not only captures the essence of the source film but takes it to new levels. Six seasons have been given to “What We Do in the Shadows” on the channel before the good vampires return to sleep for a few centuries.

## Colegio Abbott

A sitcom in the workplace environment is like tossing a coin in the air: it can turn out well or, usually, only last one season, as happened to “Blockbuster” –the Netflix series–. But sometimes rare birds like “Abbott Elementary,” Quinta Brunson’s series set in a primary school, have managed to shine on ABC (Disney+ in Spain). Finding the balance between comedy and social messages, and the way its main characters interact with each other, has earned “Abbott Elementary” a success that no one expected.

## El juego del calamar

Hwang Dong-hyuk spent a decade shaping “Squid Game” and trying to sell it to a platform. Netflix ended up acquiring the series as part of a large package of content produced in South Korea, but without seeing anything special in it: just another original series to add to the catalog. The internet did the rest: in a matter of days, “Squid Game” became a global phenomenon that enthralled millions of viewers with its brutality, emotion, and a premise that, despite its simplicity, addresses fiercely current issues like inequality. “Squid Game” became the most-watched series in Netflix’s history in 2021, and continues to be in 2024, with a second season about to hit the scene.

## Mad Men

AMC had no track record in top-tier television production, so when they announced a series about the world of advertising in the mid-20th century, no one seemed interested in the subject. Then “Mad Men” set out to silence the critics with a vibrant staging and an overwhelming capacity to nail notorious themes, even today. A superb cast completed the milestone of AMC’s first major series, but it wouldn’t be the last, far from it.

## Andor

When Lucasfilm announced that they would produce the “Andor” series, many “Star Wars” fans –and myself included– questioned the necessity of telling the story of a character with such a definitive fate in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” Although Diego Luna is not relegated to a minor role in the 2016 film, it didn’t seem to offer anything special compared to many other characters. Then Tony Gilroy arrived with his slow-paced narrative and an approach that departs from what we usually see in the saga, and it won us over. “Andor” was not only a great success, but it is the most original “Star Wars” series, along with “The Mandalorian.”

## Breaking Bad

How are you going to have Hal Wilkerson from “Malcolm in the Middle” cooking meth? The pigeonholing could have hindered confidence in “Breaking Bad,” considered to this day as one of the best series in history. Bryan Cranston took the reins of Walter White in Vince Gilligan’s series, and anyone who dared to question his ability for drama would get a visit from Heisenberg. In addition to giving the world five fantastic seasons, “Breaking Bad” gave way to “Better Call Saul,” a potent spin-off.

## Gambito de dama

Even though in 2020, Anya Taylor-Joy had already had some significant roles, her career skyrocketed thanks to Netflix and “The Queen’s Gambit.” Despite that, the story of the chess prodigy could have sunk into the vast pool of forgettable Netflix series, largely because of the platform’s habit of not promoting many of them. But “The Queen’s Gambit” turned out to be a global phenomenon that joined the platform’s big productions.

## The Simpsons

If you think that many still categorize cartoons as “for kids” in 2024, you can’t imagine how things were in 1989. Despite “The Simpsons” gaining fame in “The Tracey Ullman Show,” turning them into a series was a huge risk for Fox. “The Simpsons” has aired 35 seasons and has one more on the way. Its best moments may be behind it, as its arrival was a TV revolution in the 1980s. Nevertheless, its episodes continue to accumulate huge numbers, even more thanks to streaming. If Fox had listened to the naysayers who urged them not to trust a series like this, Homer and his family wouldn’t have had the worldwide impact they did, and Matt Groening wouldn’t have been able to create series like “Futurama.” As we say, the industry is full of these cases where the established order is humiliated by something that, for one reason or another, manages to connect with the general public, who ultimately determine success.

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