For 90 years, Perry Mason has been one of the most famous defensive lawyers on TV. The characters Erle Stanley Gardner created would inspire countless other detective tales, and it basically created an entire genre that still thrives with shows like The Lincoln Lawyer on Netflix and, of course, Perry Mason himself on HBO. The series has been one of the most well-regarded efforts of the network in the past decade, and it has received multiple awards and praise from the industry, which is why it comes as a surprise that the show has been canceled after only two seasons on HBO.
This iteration of the characters was created by Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald, with Matthew Rhys playing the iconic characters. Rhys’ performance as Perry has been highly regarded, bringing a new, rougher, more vulnerable side to the character. The series’ most famous iteration was the TV series from the 1950s and 1960s, where Raymond Burr played the character. That series ran for a total of 271 episodes, so we can get an idea of how popular the character is and how small the HBO Perry Mason show feels in comparison. Still, it was an amazing show, so we are sad to see it go.
However, what could have been the cause for the cancellation of such a well-regarded show? Several key factors might have helped the situation get to this point. First, Hollywood is in the middle of a writer’s strike, which is forcing delays on tons of movies and TV shows. HBO could be ready to give the series the go-ahead for a third season before the strike. But now that such a third series is in question as we don’t know when the writers will go back to work, then the situation becomes an excuse, not only to get rid of a show that maybe didn’t have a good enough number but also to create a pressure tactic against the writers, who the longer they are on strike, the more they will see their shows canceled.
There is also the fact that HBO is changing strategies thanks to its Max component. Discovery, which is now the owner of Warner Bros., has made it its mission to move onto more unscripted content, and a show like Perry Mason might have been the perfect piece of fat to trim from that point of view. It is still a shame. We wish the best to everyone on the production team, both behind and in front of the cameras.
The two seasons of Perry Mason are available for streaming on Max!