Another day, another promising property succumbing to a seemingly neverending pandemic. The latest victim, sadly, arrives at the hands of streamer HBO Max, which has decided not to move forward Americanah. The previously slated drama series was an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel from Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o. According to Variety, plans for the show fell through after Nyong’o “was forced to exit” due to scheduling conflicts.
The issue stems from the evolving production schedule: As quarantine continued to push filming back, the new dates began to impeded on Nyong’o’s other scheduled projects. Originally confirmed for a 10-episdoe season, Nyongo’s was billed as the star while Gurira signed on to showrun. Both women were to serve as executive producers. Uzo Aduba, Corey Hawkins, Zackary Momoh, and Tireni Oyenusi rounded out the former cast. The story follows Nigerian woman Ifemelu, who departs for America while her love Obinze must live an undocumented life in London.
Americanah is the latest casualty of this upending COVID era of entertainment. Netflix, ABC, Showtime, and other networks made similar reversals over the past weeks, nixing previously determined renewals for GLOW, Stumptown, On Becoming A God In Central Florida (an especially puzzling development, considering that Showtime somehow made room for more Dexter, of all things), and other. It’s unclear as to why these shows aren’t allowed to just wait out the quarantine, but it’s possible that contracts play a major part in what is allowed to stay and what gets nullified. (And considering Americanah’s star-studded roster, perhaps cancelling the project made more financial sense than potentially triggering costly payouts on a stymied project.) But the trend appears to be hitting shows helmed by women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ performers the hardest. Per The Observer, 17 of the 23 show canned by Netflix alone centered on marginalized characters while legacy shows largely remain on hold. Whether it came down to contracts or other factors, this development stinks.