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Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender gets its third set of showrunners before we get a sniff of season two

While it probably isn't going to doom the show, this latest move doesn't inspire much confidence, either

Live Action Avatar The Last Airbender screenshot
Image credit: Netflix

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One of the most important jobs on a TV show is showrunner. Admittedly, it has a kind of vague title, but showrunners head up writing for a series, oversee everything that happens on set, and act as a go-between for the crew and the studio executives. Often they are the creator of the show as well but, even when they pick up someone else’s idea and run with it, they are the ones who provide the roadmap for bringing that idea to life. Which is why it is so concerning that Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender has changed showrunners yet again.

Christine Boylan and Jabbar Raisani have replaced the previous showrunner, Albert Kim, who himself had replaced the previous showrunners and series creators when they left over “creative differences” back in 2020. For those keeping track, that puts the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender on its third set of showrunners before the series’ second season. Initial reports suggest that Kim had always intended to pass off management of the Netflix show at the end of the first season, and was ready to move on after spending four years developing it. He is already tipped to become an executive producer for Disney+'s Percy Jackson series.

The fact that Boylan and Raisani worked on the first season of Avatar as executive producers should provide some stability to a show that took six years to make and, while it did well enough for the streamer to renew it for a second (and third) season, was generally accepted tby fandom to be underwhelming and lacking the spark of joy from the animated series. However, in an ideal world, you wouldn’t change showrunners at all. They’re there to provide a clear, united vision for the series even as episodes are written and directed by different people.

It's worth noting that, depending on the show, showrunners often rewrite material on episodes uncredited to maintain a consistency of tone and voice. Depending how much work Kim put into the first season of the live-action Avatar, it's possible that his departure could impact the writing on the second and third seasons dramatically.

This isn’t us saying that Avatar: The Last Airbender is doomed. Many of the original show’s best moments are still waiting to be adapted, which gives Boylan and Raisani plenty to work with, and the groundwork of casting and managing the initial expense of the props and sets has already been done, so they can get focus on bringing the show to life. The worry is that the lack of a consistent vision is going to make it even harder for Avatar: The Last Airbender to win over fans who were on the fence before.

Netflix has renewed Avatar: The Last Airbender for season 2! While you wait, check out our watch order for newcomers, an exclusive Avatar reunion panel from ECCC 2024, and a couple recommendations on what to watch after the series. Heck, we've even interviewed some of the best Avatar cosplayers from across the four nations - why not check it out?