Updated: Nov 4, 2022
Pete Fletzer's father, Randy, is an admitted casual Star Wars fan - we'd call him a "normie." Here is his take on the way the series is being received by the legion of fans.
We don’t have the data. We thought we did, but the researcher admitted it was wrong. So we still don’t know yet whether Andor is a success, or in which direction it’s trending. Based on the early incorrect data, fandom has had it in its gut that the show is not succeeding, or at least, when compared with the three previous Disney Channel Star Wars live-action limited episode series. Bashers are having a field day heralding the demise of the entire franchise based on the first seven episodes of Andor. Die-hards had been relegated to defending what they call a daring new approach to storytelling for the SW universe.
So the bottom line for Andor, as it starts into the resolution part of its adventure, is that we just don’t know whether it’s working for the rank and file of the fandom. But if it turns out that it’s not, I’ve come up with a Top Eight list of reasons why. Let me preface by saying that Pete’s Mom and I have enjoyed the show from Episode (Chapter?) 1, and we both think the quality of the show, from the writing and acting to the production values has been top drawer. (And watching Stellan Skarsgard caused us a couple of weeks ago to go back and watch Good Will Hunting again.) The reasons are all interrelated, so, yes, a little of what was covered in one of them will be a cousin to some of the content in another. And most are my thoughts, with a few of what I’ve heard and don’t agree with, but I threw them out there anyway for the sake of discussion.
So here they are, the Top Eight Reasons Why Andor Might Not Be Succeeding:
8. Each Episode Takes Two Watches to “Get”: This is a series you must pay close attention to and not only listen carefully, but digest every spoken word at lightning speed, and the casual fan is probably not getting it all in one swallow – nor do they want to make the effort to. The second time through not only keeps you on board, it gives you a deeper appreciation of the food that’s there for thought; but the casual fan will not invest the time for a second time.
7. Some Fans Don’t Want To Be Kicked In the ‘Nads By Politics: Star Wars has always been about individuals banding together to rise up against power. Company Andor’s subtext cuts it a little too close to today’s headlines with regard to what’s happening in Ukraine as well as the treatment by law enforcement of persons of color throughout the United States to be considered “subtle”. I for one love that the Company is not shy in the way they present this subtext, but I have a feeling that another segment of SW fandom is taking it as a kick to the crotch.
6. Since This Is a Prequel, We Know Where the Show Is Going: This may be the least significant reason on the list, but it’s perhaps Company Andor’s greatest challenge -- getting us to emotionally invest in a bunch of characters, all but one of which (Mon Mothma) we are reasonably sure will be doomed by the end of Rogue One.
5. Too Stretched Out: I hear you guys already defending this one, so it must be bothering some fans. Is it too stretched out because there’s too much fat on the bones, or because the story itself is too long and needs twelve weeks to tell? (As an aside, I’ve always been a big Columbo fan, and the biggest criticism of the two-hour episodes was that all but a few were fattened up in order to fill the allotted time period. Columbo was the ideal 90 minute show; however, it was inherently interesting enough on its own to overcome when plumped to two hours.)
4. It Hasn’t Been Cool to Be A Star Wars Fan Since The Phantom Menace: This really has little to do with Andor, but every SW vehicle has had to overcome the stain left by the tsunami of negativity toward SWE1-3. The new nerd nation of SW fandom has since given the prequels its stamp of approval, but millions of casuals who wore the tee shirts in the 80’s and were expecting – hoping, really – to be drawn back in when Ep 1 hit the theaters were bitterly disappointed. When Disney bought the franchise, story credibility was the biggest obstacle they had to overcome. Every new SW story must fight this battle anew. If Andor dives, it will bring back bad memories and cause unwanted comparisons.
3. Not “Star Warsy” Enough: It’s the biggest, most common criticism I’ve heard, and the one that rankles the core fandom the most. Without light sabers or The Force, it doesn’t feel like Star Wars, say the critics; but they’re taking a new approach to storytelling for Star Wars, say the Defenders of the Realm. Casual fans want it to feel more Star Warsy, says I.
2. “Take the Star Wars Out of It and It’s a Great Show”: This is kind of #3 turned inside out. The Andor story is strong enough by itself to gain a huge following, but it’s weighted down by being a Star Wars series. Personally, I don’t agree with this criticism, but it’s out there, and it could be another negative that cuts into the audience.
1. Very Little in Andor for Kids Under 12: So it’s not written for the 12 and under crowd. Very brave, and maybe admirable, but it may explain why the viewership could be low. The Disney mantra has always been to use kids to attract adults. Disney Plus, I guess, is trying it the other way around. It worked with Mando big time, and Boba Fett and Obi-Wan followed, but maybe casuals don’t want to watch a SW series if their kids aren’t sitting next to them on the couch.