The 2023 Writers Strike, and SAG AFTRA strike have put the future of many shows in a bit of a flux at all networks, and one place that really seems to be feeling this is HBO. The network has seen the end of high-profile award-winning shows like Barry and Succession this year, but its promising Sunday night successors don’t feel as buzzy. For example, The Gilded Age has the potential to become a new centerpiece for the network, given its strong critic reviews. However, the network seems to be canceling a number of shows like Perry Mason and Winning Time, which does not bode well for the period drama.
After May saw the conclusion of a number of important HBO dramas, many wondered what hot new series would take over as a leading show for the network. The Idol was hopeful, but poor reviews from critics and audiences made the show a major flop, and the coveted Sunday night time slot was up for grabs.
Back in May, HBO Drama Chief Francesca Orsi talked with Deadline about other potential series that could become tentpole shows for the network, including series like the Matthew Rhys-led Perry Mason, and Winning Time, which chronicled the winning streak by the LA Lakers in the '80s. Both shows had moderate, yet passionate audiences, but both were canceled this year. The Gilded Age was also named amongst these potential tentpoles, but news about the future of this series still remains unknown. And overall, this doesn’t feel like a great sign for fans.
This isn’t to say that HBO is lacking buzzy shows that will keep subscribers coming to the network for prestige TV, but many of its most popular series are really feeling the effects of the Hollywood labor strikes. Massive hits like The Last of Us and The White Lotus have guaranteed new seasons on the way, however, both have been delayed due to the inability to continue production. Even if the SAG-AFTRA strike is resolved before the end of the year, both shows have quite involved productions and haven’t begun filming new seasons, so it will likely be 2025 before we see new episodes from either. The audiences for them are massive, which allows fans to be confident in them eventually returning to the small screen. However, more moderate successes for the network, like The Gilded Age are at more of a risk.
There are many factors that may lead to the show being canceled. While the critics adore the Christine Baranski-led show, the audience reactions for the most recent season did not mirror the critics, which is troubling when trying to build an audience. In addition, the period drama nature of The Gilded Age leads to much higher production costs, making the series very expensive. This was likely a factor in both Perry Mason and Winning Time being canceled, as Orsi said they weigh the cost of the show with its success when deciding if they'll renew it. Other shows have been able to continue despite high production costs like Netflix's The Crown or HBO's House of the Dragon, but The Gilded Age may not have the audience numbers to justify its budget.
We still don’t know what will happen with The Gilded Age. The moderate but passionate audience and critical success may be enough for the series to see another season. However, the cancellation of its contemporaries feels like a bad sign, especially as networks seek to minimize high production costs. The show is currently airing its second season on the 2023 TV schedule, so the network is likely monitoring how well the latest episodes perform before making a decision about its future.
You can check out available episodes of The Gilded Age now with a Max subscription. For more information on what other original material the streaming service has to offer, make sure to consult our feature on the best Max original shows to stream right now.