Although Andor and The Mandalorian are labeled as sci-fi Star Wars shows, the series’ atypical genre-blending is the recipe for their success.
Andor and The Mandalorian are undoubtedly the two best Star Wars shows that Disney has on offer, and while they are vastly different stories, there is a corresponding reason for their success. George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney in 2012, and just over seven years later, The Mandalorian burst onto the scene as Star Wars’ first live-action series. The Mandalorian was both critically and commercially heralded, but Disney couldn’t replicate that acclaim with The Book of Boba Fett or Obi-Wan Kenobi. The pendulum emphatically swung back in the other direction with Andor, a series that captured audiences with a refreshingly divergent twist on the typically sci-fi-heavy saga.
Andor is a successful Star Wars show for an array of reasons. The mature tone, sharp dialogue, and uniquely segmented arcs set Andor apart from other Disney Star Wars series. Additionally, The Mandalorian is praised as one of Disney’s best Star Wars TV shows for its healthy combination of original storytelling with charming, albeit familiar characters. More notably, Andor and The Mandalorian thrive as great Star Wars stories due to their distinctive genre separation from the rest of Lucasfilm’s catalog. Andor’s status as an earnest spy thriller and The Mandalorian’s evident samurai-western sheen elevate the two projects beyond Lucasfilm’s conventional sci-fi setting.
The Mandalorian & Andor Show Star Wars’ True Potential
While there are several Star Wars movies due for release in the near future, Disney’s current focus is attuned to small-screen projects, a space that allows the franchise’s true potential to shine. It’s apparent that Disney aims to make The Mandalorian the centerpiece of its streaming catalog, as evidenced by Mando’s prominent role in The Book of Boba Fett. Given that the Ahsoka show is set in the same era as The Mandalorian, expect this prominence to persist. Despite The Mandalorian’s pervasiveness in Star Wars media, its track record through two seasons unquestionably cements it as one of Disney’s best Star Wars TV shows, rendering Mando’s continual appearances somewhat warranted.
Meanwhile, Disney’s approach to Andor is derived from an entirely different standpoint. Andor’s execution and subsequent success open up exciting possibilities for the future of Star Wars TV shows. Andor takes itself seriously, and this mature approach is a welcome foil to the pulpy fanfare found in other Star Wars media. The series proves that Star Wars can succeed outside the confines of fan service and nostalgia-baiting, indicating a promising small-screen future. Ultimately, there will always be a place in the franchise for the brand of storytelling found in projects like The Mandalorian. But, the key to Lucasfilm unlocking its full potential is continuing its commitment to tonal balance.
Why Star Wars’ Best Modern Stories Aren’t Sci-Fi
Although Star Wars will always be inherently associated with sci-fi, the franchise’s best modern stories succeed for the same reason, their slant towards genre-fluidity. The primary inspirations behind George Lucas’ original vision for Star Wars were samurai stories and western films. Although The Mandalorian certainly contains sci-fi dressing, its familiar desert setting, and sprawling scenic landscapes are far more akin to those found in western classics like The Searchers and The Big Country. While Lucas’ Star Wars stories contain their fair share of hard-science influences such as Frank Herbert’s seminal Dune novel, his focus was on the dramatic flare of a familial space opera, accompanied by innovative genre blending.
Conversely, with Andor, Disney has established one of its best Star Wars TV shows without a stale dependence on the Skywalker family. Andor’s spy thriller status and nuanced narrative are compatible, and this sense of maturity has propelled Andor beyond that of a conventional sci-fi story and solidified it as a prestige series. As the franchise continues to expand with more Star Wars TV shows after Andor, continual inventiveness is of paramount importance. With The Mandalorian set to carry the torch for Disney’s small-screen future, projects like Andor are becoming increasingly integral to maintaining the necessary genre balance for future Star Wars stories.
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