“I’ve never had a hugely challenging time describing it,” Giamatti told IndieWire. “It’s a show about people who join a secret society to confront mysteries and riddles of the cosmos and their own lives — trying to pay their fucking bar tab and trying to make shit into gold, you know?”
Along with a team of executive producers including creator Jim Gavin and writer Peter Ocko, Giamatti and his producing partner Dan Carey are part of the push to find “Lodge 49” a new home. After two seasons on AMC, the series was not renewed for Season 3. With what amounts to half of the series’ story still left to tell, this quartet is part of an ongoing push to keep the series alive and finish charting the respective journeys of “Dud” Dudley (Wyatt Russell) and the rest of his cohorts in the Long Beach-based chapter of the Order of the Lynx.
“Both and Peter and I have our destinations in place. We can tell a complete story, the last two volumes of the novel. If we’re going to move, why not now?” Gavin said.
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As they actively work to pitch networks on saving “Lodge 49,” IndieWire spoke with the team about what the show has going for it already, what a true streaming home would mean for its future success, and why they have to work quickly before time runs out.
A Solid Foundation
As with any show that’s looking to find a second life on the air, “Lodge 49” has the benefit of shopping a finished product rather than a proof of concept.
“In this day and age, what’s on our side as a thing that has been created is that it’s not going anywhere. I think it would be sad for all of us to see the first two seasons finally get discovered after it’s too late to make more,” Ocko said.
The online #SaveLodge49 effort has gotten some helpful signal-boosting from well-established famous fans like Patton Oswalt and new advocates like Tom Hanks. That kind of visibility helps make sure that the show has an established reputation as it’s looking for a new home.
“One thing that’s been so great is how unanimously everybody talks about how accessible the show really is and how it really speaks to common themes,” Carey said. “I think there was this misperception early on that it was sort of esoteric and out there in some fashion. This isn’t really a hard show to access once you turn it on to watch it. These characters really are people you know and are comfortable to be with.”
Jackson Lee Davis/AMC
Finding Everything in One Place
It’s no secret that a number of shows with post-airing streaming availability have seen bumps in viewership, cultural cachet, or both. “The Good Place,” “Schitt’s Creek,” and any number of CW shows have seen their relative stocks rise once past seasons were available on Netflix. Being able to direct interested audiences to “Lodge 49” Season 1 on Hulu offered the show a more central hub away from the network specific AMC app. But as the most recent season aired, having new and old episodes siloed off in two different locations with two different ad schemes made for a disconnect.
“We do believe that if it could be put in front of its right audience, there would be a big audience for it — a passionate one that would continue to grow,” Ocko said. “There is a timeless quality to the show. It doesn’t seem to have an expiration date. It feels like something that will be around for a long time. So I think we have faith that it can definitely go further. We’d just like that chance before everyone else comes to that conclusion in six months.”
While the show’s future status is still too early to tell, having one place where all episodes can be viewed together seems to be a main focus in this quest. “Lodge 49” works as a piece of episodic storytelling, but it has the kind of propulsive narrative momentum that does make it conducive to watch large chunks of the show at a time. That’s an attractive selling point to any outlet with a platform looking for series that will not just bring in curious viewers, but keep them there.
And for a show concerned with the tenants of mythology, either on an interpersonal or international scale, “Lodge 49” also benefits from a close reading. Watching episodes without big breaks in between makes it easier to pick up on thematic throughlines and the cross-generational journeys of some of the folks within Lynx lore.
“I did a sort of dive into Reddit, which I’ve never done,” Giamatti said. “I encountered a group of people thinking so creatively and imaginatively about it and sharing a lot. They’re all doing all kinds of things of their own to keep the energy going. It’s infectious in a lot ways.”
Jackson Lee Davis/AMC
There’s Joy in Making It
Aside from the final on-screen product, the “Lodge 49” team also believes that they have a production advantage, too. Building on the core tenets of the show, there’s a cooperative atmosphere behind the scenes. Giamatti served as a producer on the first season, and he said making those 10 episodes made him want to get involved even more.
“I was shooting another show, but I took as many opportunities as I could to visit the set. When I got the chance to appear [in Season 2], I had more fun than I’ve had in ages being with those guys, being with the crew, being with everybody,” Giamatti said. “It was an unbelievable feeling of goodwill, a sincere effort toward something joyous that really doesn’t happen very often. There’s no question that just radiates from the screen as you watch. I hate watching myself and I watch myself in this and I think, ‘That guy’s great! He’s having such a fucking good time!’ It was just pure pleasure in every way.”
Aside from being friendly, adventurous, and willing to scarf down dumplings at a shocking rate — Giamatti said of the show’s memorable Season 2 restaurant showdown, “I live to eat as much as I possibly can on camera. America needs to see me eat as much as possible” — these actors make up a cast filled with specific, finely tuned performances. These Lynx members aren’t merely cogs in a machine of a mysterious secret society. They face life’s hurdles in ways that seem true to their circumstances and the knowledge that builds up after spending 20 hours in this world.
“Someone taking ‘Lodge’ on board, what they would be getting is a cast that is firing on all cylinders,” Gavin said. “Wyatt Russell and Sonya Cassidy are stars in the making and we have Brent Jennings defining a moment in his career in such a beautiful way. Linda [Emond], Eric [Allan Kramer], David [Pasquesi], they’ve all done so much stuff. But that group of actors together? That’s the show and that’s what we’re fighting for. When they’re together, it’s magic. Whatever happens, that sentiment will only continue to grow.”
It’s that cast that also adds an extra level of urgency to this effort. Contract details require that a renewal deal happens within a definite time window. And it’s closing.
“That’s the ticking clock of it all, too. When we lose these actors — because their contracts don’t run forever — then the chance to make the show goes away,” Ocko said. “That’s the clock that we have echoing in our heads right now and it really would be a point of no return. We do feel the urgency.”
Even as the metrics for tracking success continue to change, one of the biggest challenges in trying to pitch a show anywhere is ensuring that there will be an audience for it.
“The last few episodes of our season, the ratings did start to take a big curve upward. It did feel like people were suddenly finding the show and tuning in, and I think it’s starting to show,” Carey said.
Through both anecdotal and tangible evidence, “Lodge” fans have shown that this show inspires an active response. “Lodge” viewers aren’t just consumers; they’ve become part of a grassroots effort to build viewership from inside the fandom rather than outside it. Gavin said that he initially hesitated to wade into the online response to the show through most of the first two seasons. What he found as the most recent episodes were airing was a community of viewers who were recommending the show in a way he hadn’t expected.
“When they talk about it, they talk about a show that has meant something to them in a big way. Just telling a friend what it means to you is huge. That’s where the battle be won. We are just at the beginning of that and if we can get it over the line, that will only take off exponentially,” Gavin said.
In a landscape filled with networks trying to deliver The Show The World Needs Right Now, “Lodge 49” has already cracked it. And it’s done it not by planting a flag or by screaming louder than everyone else. It’s done it by fashioning a series fueled by empathy and a comfort in facing things together.
“Personally I’ve been overwhelmed by the response since the show’s been canceled. It’s not that people are like, ‘Oh, that’s a bummer. The show has gone away.’ It’s what they’re saying about how the show makes them feel and how it does feel like a refuge from a reality that right now feels very ugly,” Gavin said. “Our goal as writers is always to make the viewer feel the way Dud feels when he walks in the Lodge. He’s entered a weird, wonderful new place that’s a refuge from a cold reality. There’s a lot of people waiting for this type of show. They just need to find it.”
“Lodge 49” Season 1 is available to stream on Hulu. Season 2 episodes can be found via AMC.