Last Friday was supposed to be a day of celebration for Jaydeep Hasrajani and Jake Goldman, co-executive producers of Benefits and cursesthe anime series that was in production at Netflix after Hasrajani pitched it to the streamer in late 2019.
Indeed, the show’s team was set to ship its first episode to the studio that day and even planned to toast with congratulatory drinks. Instead, Friday became the day they learned Netflix was cutting the show, with Hasrajani and Goldman being told of the decision just before. The Hollywood Reporters story reporting the stoppage. The ax fell after the company announced on April 19 that it had lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter.
“It was the first time in a purely authentic South Asian anime series, and we really rallied around it as a team and team, and it was very authentic and a lot of hard work,” Hasrajani said. THR the historical nature of the show. “Not only were we able to attract a lot of South Asian talent behind the scenes, but we were also able to get a lot of allies to help support that vision, and also get an all-South Asian voiceover cast and an all-South voiceover -Asian. writers room. It was pretty remarkable that we were given a massive platform to do this effort. And so the news that came in was pretty devastating.
Hasrajani and Goldman, who previously worked together on the Powerpuff Girls restart launched in 2016, considered Benefits and curses as a comedy action series incorporating South Asian myths familiar to Hasrajani, who describes himself as feeling “perched on that hyphen” as an American Indian. The original project is set in the land of Maya and features Baan, a small warrior turned to butter by a curse and tasked with standing up to the evil Raj.
According to the couple, Hasrajani got a yes response from every studio that heard his pitch for the show he hoped would have universal appeal, appealing to anyone who felt torn between two worlds. In the end, Netflix stood out, in part, thanks to the support of a team that includes head of original animation Jane Lee, whom they praise for championing the work of AAPI creators. “It was just that environment that was very open for people in animation to really build something that they really believed in,” Hasrajani explains. “And the scope – I really wanted as many people perched on a hyphen to see this world as easily as possible. It was in the early days of streaming, so Netflix seemed like the way to go.
Goldman touts titles like samurai jack, Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Lord of the Rings as benchmarks for the type of project they were considering Advantages become and, for him and Hasrajani, it was important that the show had the chance to inspire young people. “A lot of times whenever you see a South Asian character on screen, it’s a joke and the accent is used as comedy,” Hasrajani says. “It’s something that a lot of South Asian Americans like me have had to go through, and honestly, it’s hard. But I really believe the best way to fight this is with a little love and creating a beautiful world where kids can pretend to be the hero instead of the joke.
Although Netflix ultimately decided against moving forward with the series, with sources citing creative differences, Advantages and curses’ the team can at least take comfort in knowing that they are in good company. It was also announced on Friday that Ada Twist, scientist the animated series from creator Chris Nee Dino Daycare was also released before its debut and, days later, the public learned that the same fate had been reserved for Meghan Markle’s animated series pearl, which had landed a direct serial order. Following the pearl news, Nee tweeted that she “can’t imagine anyone feeling safe because they just seem like they’re killing.” As soon as the ink is dry on one, they move on to the next. Intense environment to be in.
As for Advantages, Goldman describes the show’s entire team as “heartbroken” after learning Netflix was shutting things down and says he felt in the dark about what led to the decision. “There wasn’t necessarily a reason given to us that I think we could really find acceptable,” he says. “One of the main things about the show was that it was a comedy action show, and so we were just trying to get it to the right audience.”
Hasrajani points out that he and Goldman had been very open to working with Netflix and describes what he found to be a “healthy partnership” between them and Lee. “We don’t want to be difficult to work with — we like to talk about our ideas,” he says. “We like to get clarity, extra clarity, over-communication.” Asked about any ratings Netflix might have shared before production ended, Hasrajani joked, “We got feedback that they said it would be difficult to find an audience for this content – which, the last time that I checked, there are quite a few South Asian people in the world.
As for whether a bigger change in animation strategy might be in play at Netflix, the Advantages The EPs said they wouldn’t have known about those conversations, and Hasrajani says people at the company still feel like family to them. Goldman agrees, “There are still some really amazing stories being told all over town here at Netflix.”
Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.
For now, the producers remain optimistic that the series can find a home, driven by a desire to tell stories centered on an underserved community and continue to support the 60+ cast members of the series, many of which have landed. their first Hollywood jobs on the project. “We’re trying to look for a place that understands that a story like this isn’t just about numbers or data – that it’s about reach and meaningful storytelling, that it’s something that comes from ‘a genuine heart,’ says Goldman. “One of the most amazing things that has happened this weekend, since the news broke, has been raising awareness from just about every corner of the city. People have reached out to us and asked us, ‘What’s next? Where is Advantages to?’ And they want us in.
Perhaps most importantly, the producing partners hope to inspire future creators to push for a different entertainment landscape. “As the creator of POC, there’s a lot of burden on your shoulders because you’re the first of your kind,” Hasrajani says. “I really believe that if young people can see a POC leader doing it, that means they can do it. Not everyone is lucky because society sees people a certain way. This can unintentionally close the doors to animation – and media and entertainment in general. So Advantages was a really big opportunity to set a precedent that, “Hey, you can do it, and I hope you can do it better than us.”