If Westworld Isn’t Safe at HBO Max, Nothing Is

Warner Bros. Discovery is erasing more original titles from HBO Max because capitalism doesn't care about your favorite series.

Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Maeve (Thandie Newton) in Westworld season 3 episode 8
Photo: HBO

It seems like no HBO Max series is safe from the wrath of Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav. Last week it was announced by series showrunner Brig Muñoz-Liebowitz via Twitter that the recently canceled The Gordita Chronicles would be the next original series removed from HBO Max. Not long after, it was revealed that HBO Max would be canceling and removing other original titles before the end of the year.

The next casualty was the series Minx, which had not only been renewed for a second season back in May, but was also about to wrap production on season 2 this week. According to Deadline, production is set to finish as scheduled, with Lionsgate TV planning to shop both seasons of the series to other streaming services. 

Next on the chopping block was the anthology series Love Life that starred Anna Kendrick in its first season and William Jackson Harper in the second. The series was officially canceled and it was announced that both seasons would be leaving HBO Max, which is especially surprising as it was one of the titles that helped launch HBO Max in 2020. Series creator Sam Boyd took to Twitter after the news broke saying that he was “bummed” that this is a thing that happens now and that he would also be shopping Love Life to other services.

Even more surprising though is that it was also announced that HBO series Westworld and The Nevers would also be leaving HBO Max. The departure of Westworld, in particular, from HBO Max’s servers is a real shock to the streaming system. Though not as beloved in its latter years, the first season of the show was among the most-watched series ever on HBO and remains a big part of the legendary network’s history.

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While Westworld may have already been canceled prior to this curious streaming decision, The Nevers wasn’t. In fact, The Nevers still has an entire second half of its first season that has yet to air on HBO Max. According to Deadline, these series may appear on other company platforms such as Free As-supported Streaming TV (FAST) channels, but the willingness to scrap anything from HBO Max to save a buck does not bode well for the future of the streaming service.

Part of what made HBO Max worth the money (to this author least) was its variety of both popular and more niche programming options. I could watch a blockbuster like Wonder Woman and then I could watch something like Minx without leaving the streaming service. I felt like I had all the time in the world to catch up on HBO Max originals and the hidden gems lying within the growing catalog, but now that isn’t the case.

It’s not just the user experience that suffers with the mindless erasing of original movies and TV shows though, it makes Warner Bros. Discovery a potentially unappealing company to work with as a creative. While some of the series that have been removed or are set to be removed from HBO Max thus far are available to buy on DVD or as a digital copy, not all of them are. As of right now, Gordita Chronicles and Minx aren’t available to buy anywhere. If they don’t find another streaming home, then all of the hard work that went into making these shows will potentially be lost for good.

But as we’ve seen, it’s not just series that could receive a cancellation notice at any moment from WBD – even big movies like Batgirl, which was in post-production, could never see the light of day. Making movies and TV shows that people connect with and return to is a hard thing to achieve, especially with the sheer volume of content that companies are trying to shove in our eyeballs. As a creative person, it’s devastating to see WBD seemingly care so little about the things that people have poured their heart into creating. Additionally, why would a user continue to subscribe to HBO Max when anything on their watchlist, including the shows they love and enjoy, could vanish at any time?

The future of HBO Max (which could soon be rebranded as “Max”) and Warner Bros. Discovery as a whole is looking pretty bleak at this point. Even though DC properties seem to be in the hands of people who care about the stories they tell beyond their monetary value, it feels nearly impossible to say the same about everything else under this company’s control. If the project isn’t part of a well-known IP like Harry Potter or Friends, then it might as well just be a number behind a dollar sign.