Even in 2015, some TV show content is too “dangerous” and “expensive” for traditional cablers according to former X-Files writer Frank Spotnitz.
Spotnitz told CNet he thinks Syfy passed on his dystopian sci-fi series The Man in the High Castle, which debuts November 20 on Amazon Prime, for two reasons: its expense and the show’s subject matter. Based on Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel, the series explores what would’ve happened if the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan) won World War II instead of the Allies (the U.K., the U.S., and the Soviet Union, which joined after Germany breached a pact between the two powers by invading Russia).
While noting that Syfy didn’t give the reason why they passed, “the subject matter is really dangerous,” said Spotnik. “…We tried really hard not to, but I expect we will [offend people]. The things we’re talking about are still really relevant and raw and mean a lot to people, so I can imagine broadcasters being afraid. But I think in the case of Amazon they’re looking to make a statement, they’re looking to stand out in a very crowded marketplace.”
Other controversial titles in Amazon Video’s catalog include the Golden Globe-winning Transparent, a comedy about the aftermath of a family in Los Angeles finding out their father is transgender, and Hand of God, focusing on a judge whose mental breakdown causes him to seek revenge for crimes to committed to his family in the name of God.
Regarding the show’s expense, Amazon Video’s UK marketing director Russell Morris wouldn’t say how much the streamer spent but did assert that Amazon is “banking” on the show. Considering that it was Amazon’s most-watched pilot before being picked up for a 10-episode season (and a second season), it may have been a good investment — regardless of the inevitable backlash.