Amidst the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strike, HBO has ordered the half-hour comedy The Franchise to series. The show follows the crew of a disregarded franchise film and gives a behind-the-scenes look at the nitty gritty of making superhero movies.
The premise is all the more appealing because of how many downright horrendous franchise-attached films have come out lately. The Flash bombed at the box office, Black Adam was uninteresting sludge, and we all have IP fatigue; clearly The Franchise is tapping into an acute cultural moment. With Emmy winner Jon Brown as the showrunner, this is a promising series to look forward to—whenever writers and actors are guaranteed sufficient pay, that is.
Brown’s writing credits include Succession (which earned him his two Emmys), Fresh Meat, Misfits, and Dead Pixels (which he also created). He’s served as a producer on Veep in the past, so with a resume like that we can expect plenty of barbed banter—and it helps that the king of messy political dynamics, Armando Iannucci, is an executive producer for The Franchise for Dundee Productions. Brown wrote the pilot and they’re bringing out the big guns with Sam Mendes directing. As a director, Mendes is best known for American Beauty, Revolutionary Road, and 1917, the first of which earned him an Academy Award for Best Director.
The cast for The Franchise is also fairly stacked. Himesh Patel, who received an Emmy nom for his starring role in Station Eleven, will be appearing alongside Aya Cash (You’re the Worst, The Boys, Welcome to Flatch), English comedy mainstay Jessica Hynes (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Paddington 2), Billy Magnussen (Maniac, Ingrid Goes West), the utterly delightful Lolly Adefope (Ghosts, Shrill), Darren Goldstein (Ozark, American Crime Story), and Isaac Powell (Dear Evan Hansen, American Horror Story). And that’s not to mention the guest stars: the ever-eccentric Richard E. Grant and Daniel Brühl.
We’ll quell our excitement, though, until the studios give writers and actors their fair share.