Disney Has Made ‘Star Wars’ Burnout Unavoidable

Did anyone else’s whole body tense up when Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, told Variety that “Star Wars” “could go on forever”?

While we waited for the debut of Obi-Wan Kenobi in late May—not long after Kennedy said this now-infamous line—Disney announced a whole slew of new projects in one fell swoop: the game Star Wars Jedi: Survivor; animated anthology series Tales of the Jedi; and a February 2023 release for The Mandalorian Season 3.

This all came out alongside the first teaser for the series’ next spin-off of a spin-off, Andor. Meanwhile, we still await more details of another, Ahsoka, and an entirely new “Star Wars” series, Acolyte, from Russian Doll creator Leslye Headland. And there are even more besides that—not to mention those new movies from Taika Waititi and others that are still reportedly in the works. That’s a list of upcoming projects that certainly feels like it goes on forever.

I’m a “Star Wars” fan, but none of this news was good news to me. It wasn’t so long ago that a new “Star Wars” movie was a once-in-several-decades event. Think back to 1999, when we queued for weeks just to get tickets to The Phantom Menace. Now, there are multiple “Star Wars” movies, TV series, movie/TV spin-offs, and shorts; there is anything we could possibly want and more, all available instantly.

I’m ready to admit that the glut of not just “Star Wars” content, but all kinds of high-profile content—especially ones that belong to interconnected franchises—has finally become too much for me to keep up with. Frankly, I don’t know how anyone does. Worse, I don’t know why they’d even want to anymore.

When I sat down to watch the first episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi, I couldn’t have been less enthused. The show’s premiere wasn’t a special moment or the culmination of a long wait for me, as it was for many other fans. Rather, the weight of all the content that came before it made it feel like an obligation. Kenobi felt like it was just one more oversold Disney show ‌I had no choice but to watch, lest I get left behind and become disadvantaged in stories that reference it later.

 

Disney+

Streaming services already fire out an unsustainable level of content, but Disney is pushing it to new levels of oversaturation. With that comes an inevitable dip in quality. Hearing the stilted dialogue in Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett, or watching the staid storylines of Loki and WandaVision, I realize that the drop-off is not only evident but also ingrained. Diminishing returns are part of the fabric of every show Disney produces, being that each one is driven by what feels more like a set of staid brand guidelines than varied creative choices.

It wasn’t always like this for me, just as it wasn’t always like this for “Star Wars”. After the disappointment of the two J.J. Abrams “Star Wars” films, I was excited at the prospect of the series branching out into television. It felt like an opportunity to do something novel with the franchise, and The Mandalorian’s Western-in-space vibe really was the balm I needed when it premiered in 2019. The show wasn’t revolutionary, but it was at least different—the rare “Star Wars” story that was removed from the small world the series typically inhabits, mostly shirking its stable of recurring character

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