In the midst of all the news coming out of next week’s San Diego Comic-Con — the pre-eminent convention for all things genre — it will be part of a well-deserved victory lap for the cast, crew and fans of one beloved television series.
Wynonna Earp is the Canadian-American co-production that recently escaped television purgatory and is now actually, for real returning for its fourth season.
Based on a comic by Beau Smith, about the demon-hunting great-great-granddaughter of Wyatt Earp, this Calgary-shot series that has an incredibly dedicated and loyal fan base — known as Earpers — who already travel for conventions that are springing up to celebrate this supernatural Western.
Toronto fans have already likely blocked off the Aug. 9 weekend for the Earper Homestead Convention Canada at the Westin Toronto Airport, where they will continue the comeback party.
Airing on Syfy in the U.S. and Space in Canada, the show was announced to be returning at last year’s Comic-Con to great fanfare, but then the upcoming season was put in jeopardy as its main production company, IDW Entertainment, ran into financial problems, resulting in missed production schedules and even the cast being released from contracts due to delays.
Earpers are a feisty lot and once the news that the show was in trouble started to spread a clarion call was sent out by their leader, Emily Andras, executive producer and showrunner of Wynonna Earp. With a February saying “Don’t f–k with my Family,” she kicked off a save-our-show fan campaign.
“In hindsight, next time I might think a little more about how my real family would respond before sending something out like that,” says Andras with a laugh, on the line last week from her Toronto home.
Andras is known for giving great Twitter — and her fan engagement is on another level compared to many other showrunners — but this time she also had to do something that was very tough for her, which was stay quiet while money folks talked behind the scenes to see what could be done.
She says she never really doubted the show would come back: the hard part had already been done; there were broadcasters who wanted to air it and viewers who wanted to see it.
“I’m a writer, so math is hard,” she joked. “But there was never a moment in my guts when I was like, this was not going to happen … There were moments where I was really down, but we just never got to the point where I said this is my final shot and I’m sending the Bat signal into the universe saying, ‘OK guys, we tried to make this happen, it’s over.’ It always felt deep in my gut like it was going to happen. “
The fans did speak. #FightforWynnona was the online battle cry.
They purchased billboards in Times Square among other efforts, mostly with the tone of positivity that Wynonna Earp’s inclusive fan base is known for. In turn, Earp star Melanie Scrofano bought a billboard thanking the fans, another sign of the two-way communication this show excels at.
While Earp is a genre show, it is also an important show. Its positive portrayal of LGBTQ relationships is one of the reasons the show has been hailed by critics and won awards from GLAAD (as well as a bunch of Canadian Screen Awards and the People’s Choice Award for Best Sci-Fi Show, among others.)
The news the fans has been waiting for finally came early in July, with reports that the broadcasters had ponied up additional funding to keep Earp on the air.
The majority of the cast quickly signed back on, which shows how they feel about it too.
With a 12-episode order, the plan is for the writers to reconvene in November and shooting to start in January in Calgary with a scheduled summer 2020 air date.
Andras is triumphant but knows there is plenty of work to do.
“I am completely victorious in the face of all my enemies, so I feel a bit smug, but I’m Canadian, so I’m still terrified. I still have to make the thing,” she says. “We did about two months in the writing room, so we outlined the first half of the season. Now we will have to review all the work we did, with some new constraints, like cast availabilities and things like budget to get it to work. It is still the story we want to tell.”
She says the off-season struggles might manifest in some storylines, but that fits the show’s underdog spirit, off-screen and on.
In a 500-show TV world, it’s also a copycat TV world, so Andras knows people are looking to extract a lesson from all of this.
“I think that there are two lessons to learn from this. The audience has more power than ever,” she says. “I think at the same time you do not have to write a television show that speaks to absolutely everybody. It’s better to write something with a definitive voice that really inspires people.”
While others might look to use Wynonna Earp as a model, Andra knows the show is just as special to her and the cast as it is to its audience.
“You can’t fake fan engagement,” she says.
“There still has to be that magic sauce in the TV show or the entertainment or the movie that moves people. You can’t sort of trick people into being willing to fight for your show.
“But then I think this is lightning in a bottle.”
Looking ahead to San Diego Comic-Con
Get ready for the next wave of genre-based entertainment announcements from the infamous Hall H, where attendees sit for hours at a time to get the scoop straight from the casts and crews of the biggest shows and films that are on their way to us.
Here’s what we already know to expect from Comic-Con, running July 18 to 21:
Marvel-ous announcements: Marvel skipped last year but knows the world is waiting for more news of Phase Four of its movie strategy, which reportedly will centre on The Eternals, which has already snagged a rumoured impressive cast including Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Millie Bobby Brown and maybe even Keanu Reeves. The Black Widow and Shang-Chi films may get sneak peaks and there will likely be a lot of about all the sequels that are coming, like Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
Cue the Imperial March: There were also no major Star Wars reveals last year, but with The Rise of Skywalker coming and Disney+, the streaming service that is expected to launch with the Jon Favreau-directed series The Mandolorian, the Force is strong at this con.
Big genre TV hype and send-offs: HBO’s Westworld is coming back, but Supernatural is gearing up for its final season. There’s going to be a big Game of Thrones celebration, and DC will talk about its Arrow-verse and other shows like Doom Patrol on its DC Universe streaming service.