Yellowjackets Creators Reveal HBO Passed on Series for One Specific Reason

Yellowjackets easily became one of the most buzzworthy shows of the past year, with the genre-bending series taking the television world by storm when it debuted on Showtime. The series has made headlines for its horrific elements and its impressive ensemble cast, which makes the notion that it took a while to land at Showtime not that surprising. But as a new interview with Deadline reveals, the series was passed on by HBO — but not for the reason viewers might be expecting. According to series creators Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, HBO passed on the series because its teenage-focused story would be too similar on paper to Euphoria.

"Yes. We pitched it to everybody," Nickerson revealed. "We did this pitch, like, 500 times."

"I think at one point we were joking with our studio and our producers and were like, 'so who are we pitching tomorrow, Starbucks?'" Lyle added.

"I think we pitched to 16 or 17 different networks," Lyle continued. "We ended up getting offers from five of them. HBO, as an example, was very honest after the pitch. they said they really liked it, but they already had Euphoria in development. And they were like, we're probably not gonna develop two projects with teenage protagonists. So even though that wasn't a place where we sold it, we were getting positive feedback and that's always helpful as you're going through the absolute grind."

Yellowjackets begins in 1996, as a team of New Jersey high school soccer players travels to Seattle for a national tournament. While flying over Canada, their plane crashes deep in the wilderness and the remaining team members are left to survive for nineteen months. The series chronicles their attempts to survive while also tracking their current lives in 2021. The series stars Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress, Ella Purnell, Sophie Nélisse, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sophie Thatcher, Sammi Hanratty, Steven Krueger, Warren Kole, Christina Ricci, and Juliette Lewis.

"Yellowjackets has been an unadulterated sensation for SHOWTIME," Gary Levine, co-President of Entertainment, Showtime Networks Inc said at the time of its Season 2 renewal. "We are overwhelmed by both the acclaim and the audience response to our series, including several 'Best of 2021' lists, a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes and snowballing viewership. Clearly there is a hunger for originality and audacity, and our incredible showrunners Ashley, Bart and Jonathan, along with their pitch-perfect cast, have delivered that and so much more. I can't wait to see the surprises they have in store for us in season two."  

Season 2 of Yellowjackets will debut on Showtime at a later date.