What once seemed like Netflix’s answer to Game of Thrones seems to be in serious trouble. The Witcher lost Henry Cavill as a star after next season, and his first attempt at trying to expand his universe with a new live-action show seems to be going disastrously.
The good news first: The Witcher: Blood Origin is currently the #1 show on Netflix, indicating it has a big following to propel it onto the likes of Wednesday and Emily in Paris.
The bad news: what people actually watch may make them wish they had bothered. Right now, in addition to having pretty poor review scores, The Witcher: Blood Origin has literally the worst viewership scores for a major Netflix Original I’ve ever seen.
While a 35% rating on Rotten Tomatoes certainly isn’t great, I guess technically I’ve seen worse (my favorite Netflix stat is double 0% for its two 365 Days film series). But for audience scores? I have never seen one nine percent before.
The last time I wrote about a series with historically low viewership scores on Netflix was the now-cancelled Resident Evil series, which had 22% viewership. At the time, I simply hadn’t seen anything close, even among other lambasted series. Even shows that were universally pretty bad often ended up being liked more by audiences than by critics, like Jupiter’s Legacy, which had a 41% critic score and 77% audience score, or Haters Back Off. , a show that appears on many “worst Netflix shows”, with a 50% critic score and a 76% viewership score. The only original I saw near Resident Evil at the time was Infinite Darkness, the CG RE series, which had a critic score of 50% and an audience score of 39%.
The Witcher: Blood Origin is perhaps the most panned series, between fans and critics, that Netflix has ever seen. Why? Here are some samples from both groups:
- “The television equivalent, of sorts, of a tangentially linked hyperlink that you end up clicking on while reading something else on Wikipedia.” – Ready Steady Cut (critical review)
- “Mediocre, unoriginal, and held to the promise of better things – The Witcher: Blood Origin is a mediocre affair. Michelle Yeoh is lost, Lenny Henry lacks conviction and Minnie Driver does excellent storytelling. Best avoided. – We have this covered (critical examination)
- “Bad. Really really bad. I wonder when Netflix will reach the point where they can’t treat the source material any worse. I sure hope it’s finally their lowest point or else it might be time to leave this platform for good” = Al R (Audience Review)
- “In a generic fantasy setting with multiple characters ticking boxes, a soulless spectacle rises from a place it never should have. Between abominable and atrocious, this non-witcher is basically nothing to report. did absolutely nothing for a Witcher fan: added nothing, built nothing, had no character or resemblance to the source material I could watch the original Polish show which you might not even know it exists, but it was a bit too much.- Marcelo A (Audience Review)
Just brutal. I’m not sure exactly what happened here, but Netflix really needs to figure it out to make sure whatever plagued this series doesn’t translate into the final seasons of The Witcher itself.
Update (12/27): I’ve seen some people wondering why we’re having this conversation, given that The Witcher is “obviously” bombarded with criticism for having such a low audience score (now down to 8%, at the time of this update). day). So, a few things to consider:
Yes, it’s sadly true that many fantasy series that have cast women or people of color in prominent roles have received racist backlash. And yet, none of these have been “bombed” as bad as what we see here with Blood Origin. This includes House of the Dragon (82%), Rings of Power (38%) and The Witcher itself (75%). If you want to extend the outer fantasy to things we know are actively bombed review, many in the superhero space, even things like Ms. Marvel (80%), Captain Marvel (45%) and She-Hulk (33%) still don’t come close to Blood Origin’s 8%. Literally nothing is. It’s in a league of its own.
Second, you might actually want to… read the audience reviews before saying this is a specific rejection of casting diversity. Looking through them, I see maybe a comment about “politics” or “diversity” for every… fifty reviews? The vast, vast majority of them don’t talk about that, nor do they mention Henry Cavill’s recent departure from the show, but they focus entirely on the show’s oddly poor production value compared to The Witcher itself, and its wooden dialogues and performances.
Of course, there’s no denying that The Witcher: Blood Origin isn’t the literal worst show in Netflix history, as these scores suggest. But to get scores this low, combined with low review scores as well, something seriously went wrong here, and that’s a big deal given that The Witcher was meant to be such a massive IP and world for Netflix to grow and expand to the future. And I feel like everything is falling apart now.
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