“I thought that esteem success would protect us”

“I thought that esteem success would protect us”

Critically acclaimed, the new comedy from the creator of “Ten Percent” embodied a renewal for Netflix. It was curtly canceled this Thursday, May 12. Meeting with its creator, “disappointed. And sad”.

“Fanny Herrero signs (finally!) Netflix’s first good French series”, titled Telerama on March 18 when the release of Funny. A topic in tune with the times – the stand-up –, endearing characters, an original societal subtext, dramatic promises for the future… Almost all of the press had welcomed this bet of the platform American, which had accustomed us until now to either insipid projects, such as Lupineor done in a hurry, like Marianne. Netflix was finally going to take advantage of its popularity to also offer more atypical series, works of authors. To do what we had hoped for since its launch, to play a role not only economic but also artistic in the world of French series. The rapid cancellation of Funny, which we learned on Thursday May 12 that it would not have a second season, after less than two months online, without having the slightest chance of settling on the length, raises fears of the opposite: pure accounting logic. Fanny Herrero returns to this disappearance, its causes and its consequences.

Did you expect this cancellation?
It’s hot and cold. At the launch of Funny, we were euphoric, and the Netflix teams too, who kept telling us how much they loved this project. We felt very warm in this house at that time. The press was enthusiastic, the feedback from spectators numerous and very positive. I received tons of messages from people who finally felt represented, who underlined the singularity of the series… As a result, I am disappointed. And sad. It’s such a commitment to create a series, to project itself over time, to dream up its sequel! To see it suddenly cancelled, my legs are a bit off. I knew that Funny was not designed to be a hit. It’s a series of characters, without star actors, but with artistic ambition. We remain artists, even on Netflix. As their French series have rarely met with unanimous critical acclaim, I thought that this critical success could perhaps protect us, allow us to last a little…

But that wasn’t enough, obviously…
We didn’t meet Netflix’s audience expectations, according to their standards and their algorithm, which no one really knows. I had access to the figures of Funny, but I cannot communicate them. All I can say is that it’s still crowded! It’s sad to think that all these people will be deprived of the rest, as if we owe them nothing. But it is sure that we do not make as many views as Lupine Where Family Business. An editorial line can be more than the idea of ​​performance…

“The series still has time to live […] but what matters most, it seems, was his start.”

How did you find out about this cancellation?
Netflix kept us updated as it went. A week after the launch, we had the first trends, which are not numbers but indications, a feeling, on the performance of the series. It’s been twenty-eight days since Funny was online when we were told she would not continue. Which is extremely fast. Maybe their decision was made earlier than that. The series still has time to live, it is still available online, but what matters most, it seems, was its start.

What signal does this decision send, in your opinion, to the authors of French series?
Funny is a small textbook case. When Netflix comes to get me, they expect me to take artistic risks, to do creative work, to surround myself with talented people. But all of this is carried away by a single marker: has it made the “volume” expected by Netflix? Series are an industry, of course, but also an art that conveys ideas, a vision of society, etc. From this point of view, I thought that Funny belonged on Netflix. There are boxes like Lupine, and that’s very good, with an emblematic character carried by a great popular actor, an effective but sometimes predictable dramaturgy… and at another point of the spectrum there is Funny, more modest in appearance, which offers an author’s look. It’s worrying to think that there is no room for both.

Isn’t that a bit naive, in today’s highly competitive world of series?
Certainly, but you have to be idealistic! Otherwise, what are we good for? A first season is a prototype. We did it, it touched people, and that’s a good thing. But we might have needed more time to impose ourselves.

Where were you writing season 2?
We had made good progress, two thirds of the episodes were written, and validated with great enthusiasm, again, by Netflix. It’s common in the world of series not to wait for the broadcast and to get ahead in the writing, in order to create a recurrence without waiting two years between each season.

Will these episodes end up in the trash?
It’s too early to tell. Funny belongs to Netflix. In the United States, it is customary to resell a series to another broadcaster, because the market is larger. In France, I don’t think so.

Will you continue to work with Netflix?
I only engaged with them on this series. I tend to see the glass half full, to draw positive lessons from this experience. I’m going to take the time to dissect all of this, including my relationship with the platform. This cancellation reshuffles the cards. Things are very open now…