Netflix’s subscriber algorithm didn’t recommend Tuca & Bertie to its own creator Lisa Hanawalt. On July 25, the streaming service canceled the adult animated sitcom after just one season, which premiered premiered on May 3.
In Tuca & Bertie, Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong portray the titular bird women, respectively, and The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun co-stars as Bertie’s architect boyfriend Speckle. With its edgy comedy and surrealistic premise, the Netflix comedy resonated with many subscribers, much like Netflix’s adult animated sitcom Big Mouth. Tuca & Bertie’s creator, Hanawalt, previously worked for BoJack Horseman, Netflix’s first original animated sitcom that set the tone for future series. Despite Tuca & Bertie’s critical acclaim, however, Netflix decided to pull the plug. Hanawalt expressed her gratitude for the opportunity, and when discussing her creative approach, she noted that “None of this makes a difference to an algorithm, but it’s important to me and the way I want to continue making art in this world.”
On Twitter, Hanawalt revealed a curious piece of information about her experience with Netflix’s user algorithm. According to the Tuca & Bertie creator, Netflix didn't suggest her own show. The news was preceded by a Twitter inquiry made by Netflix’s Jarett Wieselman, who asked for subscriber feedback about how the streaming service promotes their series. Author Dana Schwartz noted that she’s seen every season of BoJack Horseman, but that she couldn't remember Tuca & Bertie ever appearing as a suggestion. In response, Hanawalt said, “I... had to search for it too.” In addition, she added a comedic crying face emoji to underline her statement. Take a look at Hanawalt's tweet below:
I... had to search for it too 😂— Lisa Hanawalt (@lisadraws) July 26, 2019
While loyal Tuca & Bertie viewers are shocked about its cancellation, it appears that Netflix made a practical decision after sorting through viewership numbers. Or perhaps Netflix is more invested in the aforementioned BoJack Horseman, which was renewed for season 6 last October, along with the puberty-themed animated series Big Mouth, both of which have fantastical premises. Netflix reached a deal with Big Mouth’s newly-formed production company Brutus Pink, which includes Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett; as a result, Netflix ordered three new seasons of Big Mouth - this coming after Big Mouth season 3 was previously ordered in November 2018.
Given the response to Tuca & Bertie’s cancellation, Hanawalt will undoubtedly land a new project soon - maybe even at Netflix. However, her algorithm tweet raises more questions about how Netflix engages with its audience. In the past year, Netflix has been criticized for its first-person Twitter approach; a technique that's seemingly used to appear relatable. After hiring Marya Gates, who previously ran the social media account for the ill-fated FilmStruck, Netflix’s social media account has since become more intriguing and informative. Moving forward, Netflix may need to make additional structural tweaks.
Source: Lisa Hanawalt