EXCLUSIVE: A year ago, Yellowjackets got an early Season 2 renewal five episodes into its freshman run. The Showtime series delivered on the vote of confidence with seven Emmy nominations and over 5 million weekly viewers, and now it’s getting an ever earlier Season 3 renewal. More than three months ahead of Yellowjackets’ March 26 Season 2 premiere, the network has picked up a new installment of the show from creators/executive producers/co-showrunners Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, exec producer/co-showrunner Jonathan Lisco, eOne and Drew Comins’ studio-based Creative Engine.
There was a practical rationale behind the timing of the renewals, which come exactly a year apart. (Season 2 pickup was announced Dec. 16, 2021.) I hear they were tied to the yearly deadline for picking up the cast’s options, which are up in mid-December.
But it also makes a statement about Showtime’s programming strategy as the first renewal after the network moved under the purview of Chris McCarthy.
“With Yellowjackets’ runaway success in season one and the pent-up anticipation for season two, we wanted to maximize the momentum by fast tracking season three now,” said McCarthy, President/CEO, Showtime and Paramount Media Networks. “The show’s ambition is only exceeded by its execution, and I thank the incredible creative team behind it, including Ashley, Bart, Jonathan, eOne and the Showtime team, for turning this into such a success.”
The early renewal “demonstrates our strong commitment to the show and its ability to continue to grow as well as how it fits clearly within a Showtime brand,” McCarthy added.
He proceeded to shed light on his vision for the Showtime brand going forward and the content plans around it. McCarthy’s first pickup move after taking over the premium network was to bring in the MTV Entertainment Studios-produced country drama limited series George and Tammy, which had become a free agent after Spectrum pulled away from scripted originals.
“As we head into 2023 and beyond, our plan is to lean into Showtime’s strengths and focus on three key areas that have defined the brand. Complex and subversive antihero’s like Dexter and Yellowjackets, powerful high-stakes worlds like Homeland and Billions, and unconventional cultural takes like The L Word and The Chi – all with an eye towards making the biggest hits possible and building them into hit franchises as we have done very successfully across the company” McCarthy said. “From Yellowstone, to South Park and to our global unscripted formats, these franchises have helped to drive Paramount+ to the fastest growing streaming service in the US two years in a row, and now we are excited to bring this franchise thinking into the great set of hit series that have defined Showtime.”
As Paramount Global mulls Showtime’s future as a standalone service, its series’ streaming performance is increasingly important. Yellowjackets delivered on that front too, becoming the second-most streamed series in Showtime history behind Dexter: New Blood.
McCarthy comments also bode well for The L Word: Generation Q which is now airing its third season.
He also echoed recent comments by Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish about the company’s plans for Showtime, saying he wanted “to make it clear that the [Showtime] brand still matters, and the slate is going to matter even more.” The label also will “lean into franchises,” Bakish added. “We have not announced anything. But you will see that as we move into 2023.”
Expanding on Bakish’s statement, McCarthy spoke about the network’s franchise strategy, noting that it would involve redistributing of resources to the series with franchise potential while “some shows won’t make the cut.” There has been one major Showtime cancellation in the past couple of months, that of drama City On a Hill,” with a couple of others likely.
“We intend to use our successful franchise strategy to fuel the future for Showtime whereby fans make connections with a franchise, and franchises further build the brand and our streaming services and ultimately building term long value for the company” said McCarthy. “In order to realize that full potential, we will take a critical eye on all series, asking how big can we go in order to place the right creative bets to be additive to the overall company’s IP bank – which means some shows won’t make the cut and others will receive a lot more resources and attention, taken together we only see opportunities to further grow the Showtime brand.”
Produced by eOne, Yellowjackets has started assembling a writers room for Season 3 as production on Season 2 continues in Vancouver.
Created by Lyle and Bart Nickerson, Yellowjackets, whose first season earned 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating, stars Melanie Lynskey, Juliette Lewis, Christina Ricci and Tawny Cypress.
Following the breakout success of Season 1, the show added several big names for Season 2: Lauren Ambrose and Simone Kessell joined as series regulars, along with Elijah Wood in a season long guest arc.
Equal parts survival epic, psychological horror story and coming-of-age drama, Yellowjackets is the saga of a team of wildly talented high school girls soccer players who become the (un)lucky survivors of a plane crash deep in the remote northern wilderness. The series chronicles their descent from a complicated but thriving team to savage clans, while also tracking the lives they’ve attempted to piece back together nearly 25 years later, proving that the past is never really past and what began out in the wilderness is far from over. Season two also stars Sophie Nélisse, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sophie Thatcher, Samantha Hanratty, Courtney Eaton, Liv Hewson, Steven Krueger, Warren Kole and Kevin Alves.
Yellowjackets is executive produced by Lyle, Nickerson and fellow showrunner Lisco. Comins of Creative Engine also serves as executive producer. Karyn Kusama directed the pilot. Jacqueline Sacerio oversees the series for eOne.