Secondarily, you can then factor in the cost of the show, which isn’t cheap given the star power in front of and behind the camera. It’s easier to call it a day when you’re pouring money into something that’s about to get a tarnished reputation and – you guessed it – lose all but the bad buzz.But pointing to the ratings is, in fact, pointless. They don’t matter. Most of the people quick to chide the lack of viewers for the show don’t like it anyway. If ratings really mattered, HBO wouldn’t have renewed it for a second season. In HBO’s world, Luck was setting up rather nicely. It had a ton of critical acclaim and the latter episodes of the season were bringing together a complicated storyline. Most important, viewers were getting more familiar and comfortable with a subculture – horse racing – that many knew nothing about when the series launched.
Given that cable series often see a spike in ratings during the second season – after those who didn’t watch find it on DVD or rentals – HBO had every reason to believe it could build on the Luck track record.
But that horse, as they say, has left the barn. All that’s left now is for HBO and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to fight it out on the public relations battlefront about whether horses were being unfairly treated.
HBO has said that it went beyond the requirements for humane treatment, going so far as to toss out this odd quote: “We maintained the highest safety standards throughout production, higher in fact than any protocols existing in horseracing anywhere with many fewer incidents than occur in racing or than befall horses normally in barns at night or pastures.”
For its part, PETA said HBO used “old, unfit and drugged horses” and has called for an investigation.
Or if you’ve been watching Luck at all, there’s an “inquiry” on this race. Hold all tickets. What happens more often than not in that situation? The horse under inquiry gets disqualified.