Why Netflix was the perfect place to revitalize ‘Wet Hot American Summer’

Wet Hot American Summer
The Netflix TV model allowed ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’ to cram in a lot more jokes and new characters. Netflix

Since its release in just two theatres in 2001, “Wet Hot American Summer” went from box-office bomb to cult classic.

For years to follow, director David Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter have discussed the possibility of reuniting the entire Camp Firewood gang for a sequel.

After years of discussion, that plan has finally come to fruition in an eight-episode Netflix prequel series called “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.” It seems a bit strange to do a prequel rather than a sequel, given that the actors are now much older than they were in the original, and the fact that they even allude to a possible sequel very early in the film.

Wet Hot American Summer TV
‘Wet Hot’ director David Wain plays a brand new character in ‘First Day of Camp.’ Netflix

According to a lengthy interview with Wain and Showalter in Rolling Stone, it wasn’t until Netflix came into the equation that they decided to approach their “Wet Hot” follow-up as a miniseries instead of a followup film.

“Netflix became a medium that would run thing that weren’t quite a TV series, but not quite a feature film,” Wain told Rolling Stone. “It was the perfect wide canvas for us.”

Showalter and Wain have a loyal following but have always had trouble keeping a television series on the air for long. “Stella,” which they co-created and starred in with “Wet Hot” co-star Michael Ian Black, was canceled by Comedy Central after one season. “Michael & Michael Have Issues,” starring Showalter and Black, didn’t make it past seven episodes on Comedy Central.

Wet Hot American Summer TV
Showalter says that ‘First Day of Camp’ is less like a conventional TV show and more like a miniseries. Netflix

Showalter concurred that Netflix’s unconventional TV model worked for their unique style of humour.

“Their creative model really lent itself to what we were thinking, which was to have way more material than we could fit in just one movie. This was more like a miniseries or serialized story, and not an open-ended network TV show that just goes on forever. It was perfect.” Showalter also told Rolling Stone.

Wain added that if it weren’t for Netflix, the “Wet Hot” prequel may very well have been a movie, if it was done at all.

You can read Wain and Showalter’s full Q&A with Rolling Stone, here.

All eight episodes of “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp” will be streaming on Netflix July 31.

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