Why Streaming Shows ‘The Witcher’ and ‘The Mandalorian’ Found Success
Streaming services, like Netflix and Disney+, have become immensely popular with the vast amount of content both provide for their respective users. However, two particular shows that gained instant attention and popularity are Netflix’s The Witcher and Disney+’s The Mandalorian.
The Witcher, based on Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy novels, follows Geralt (Henry Cavill), the titular ‘witcher,’ or a mutated human whose profession is to hunt dangerous creatures for coin. He is stoic and a lone wolf, not wanting the burdens that come from traveling with companions. However, it is through fateful encounters with certain individuals, like sorceress Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), where Geralt finds himself ultimately caught within the overarching influences of destiny and love, all while the political landscape drastically shifts with war.
The Mandalorian, set in the Star Wars universe after the empire’s fall post-Return of the Jedi, similarly follows its own seemingly dispassionate character, a lone Mandalorian bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal). His profession is taking on contracts that tend to involve dangerous tasks for which he is paid after they are completed. During a mission where ‘Mando’ is tasked to find and retrieve a target, he notices how it is unlike his other usual jobs. His mark turns out to be an alien, dubbed the Child, who has the ability to use the Force. After witnessing shady activity by his clients, the bounty hunter chooses to escape and travel with the Child around the galaxy to keep it safe.
At a glance the two shows are quite similar, with two main characters who excel in their professions and speak very little. Another striking similarity is the way they start off as loners only to then become more open to working with others later. Given how these shows feel the same, albeit within different genres, it is somewhat surprising how successful they have become. So how did this happen?
One of the reasons is they both already possessed large fan bases. The Witcher fans are comprised of people who read the novels, but also gamers who enjoyed the exceptionally popular video games. As for The Mandalorian, the Star Wars fan base has only grown since the late 1970s. Both series already had a strong viewership before any episodes were released. Another large reason for their success is the timing of when each show was released.
Before The Mandalorian was released, the Star Wars franchise wasn’t in the best place. Fans and critics were still divided over The Last Jedi and Solo, with some feeling the latter was an unnecessary addition to the canon. However, this benefited the streaming series due to people wanting new and interesting stories set within the Star Wars universe. Additionally, the lore surrounding the Mandalorians was never really explored on-screen, aside from on shows like The Clone Wars and Rebels. It also helped how Jon Favreau, known for kicking off the MCU with Iron Man, was spearheading the project with other well-known actors and directors. Oh, and the popularity of “Baby Yoda” definitely contributed.
Likewise, The Witcher also found itself in a position to fill a void. Game of Thrones was such a hit and immersed audiences in its mature fantastical setting filled with dragons, white walkers, and yes, politics. However, many viewers felt dissatisfied after its lackluster series finale. This discontent, combined with a yearning for something to scratch that fantasy itch, was what allowed for The Witcher to satisfy these viewers. Pair this with how a lot of people labeled the show as Netflix’s Game of Thrones, causing it to become instantly popular. The show also benefited from releasing around the same time as The Rise of Skywalker, a film many Star Wars fans felt mixed about and wanted something good to watch to cleanse their creative palette.
The show themselves deserve credit as well. Both contain great performances from their casts and wonderful settings created by the production crews for the actors to play in. The showrunners also having clear visions was excellent, though some might disagree with the timeline hopping seen in The Witcher.
Overall, for whatever reasons, both The Witcher and The Mandalorian provided something fresh and creative for audiences to indulge in. This is evident in how second seasons are now in production for both. Season two of The Witcher will be released in 2021 and The Mandalorian’s next season will release in October 2020.
- A. Shin
The Witcher Netflix series was created by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, and stars Henry Cavill, Anya Chalotra, Freya Allan and Joey Batey. The series is available to stream on Netflix now.
The Mandalorian was created by Jon Favreau, and stars Pedro Pascal, Carl Weathers, Gina Carano, and Werner Herzog. The series is available to stream on Disney+ now.