Cartoon Network Cancelled a Show Because It Was Too Focused on Girls


Paul Dini is the creator and writer behind the Cartoon Network show Tower Prep, which was cancelled in 2011 after one season. Now Dini has revealed that he’s fairly certain it got cut was because he wasn’t doing enough to make the show appealing to boys.

Tower Prep was a live action show about teens with special abilities who go to a school that helps them develop those skills, sort of like the Power Rangers meets Agent Cody Banks. In a conversation with Kevin Smith on his Fatman on Batman podcast, Dini explained that that shows like Tower Prep get cancelled because it’s difficult for the networks to figure out how to monetize female characters. This is because apparently young women, “Do. Not. Buy. Toys.” And when Dini was working on Tower Prep, Cartoon Network apparently pushed back against his development of his female characters because they couldn’t figure out how to make money out of it:

That’s the thing, you know I hate being Mr. Sour Grapes here, but I’ll just lay it on the line: that’s the thing that got us cancelled on Tower Prep, honest-to-God was, it’s like, “We need boys, but we need girls right there, right one step behind the boys”—this is the network talking—”one step behind the boys, not as smart as the boys, not as interesting as the boys, but right there.” And then we began writing stories that got into the two girls’ back stories, and they were really interesting. And suddenly we had families and girls watching, and girls really became a big part of our audience, in sort of like they picked up that Harry Potter type of serialized way, which is what The Batman and [indecipherable]’s really gonna kill. But, the Cartoon Network was saying, ‘Fuck, no, we want the boys’ action, it’s boys’ action, this goofy boy humor we’ve gotta get that in there. And we can’t—’ and I’d say, “But look at the numbers, we’ve got parents watching, with the families, and then when you break it down”—”Yeah, but the, so many, we’ve got too many girls. We need more boys.”

According to Dini, the show was cancelled and replaced with Level Up (currently on hiatus) a program about “goofy nerds fighting CG monsters”:

It’s like, “We don’t want the girls because the girls won’t buy toys.” We had a whole… we had a whole, a merchandise line for Tower Prep that they shitcanned before it ever got off the launching pad, because it’s like, “Boys, boys, boys. Boys buy the little spinny tops, they but the action figures, girls buy princesses, we’re not selling princesses.”

Smith found this whole premise insane, suggesting that instead of being entirely uncreative, Cartoon Network and other channels try to “sell them something else, man! Don’t be lazy and be like, ‘Well I can’t sell a girl a toy.’ Sell ’em a T-shirt, man, sell them a fucking umbrella with the fucking character on it, something like that.” He then compared it to the way the comics industry considers (or doesn’t consider) women overall, a sentiment echoed by commenters at io9 as well: “…these are the same fuckers who go, like, ‘Oh, girls don’t read comics, girls aren’t into comics.’ It’s all self-fulfilling prophecies. They just make it that way, by going like, ‘I can’t sell ’em a toy, what’s the point?'”

[h/t Women and Hollywood]

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