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So there's a show that everybody hates. The critics tear strips off it, your friends swear it sucks, and even the advertising seems to agree. So one night you happen to come across it and it's not that bad, actually. It might not by any stretch of the imagination be perfect — the star is a large ham, the hero's daughter is a whiny brat, and the walrus scene doesn't work — but it's nowhere near the disaster that everyone says it is. What's going on?
You've just experienced a critical backlash.
The opposite of Hype Backlash, Critical Backlash is when something is over-criticized and -condemned to the extent that it couldn't possibly be as terrible as everyone makes out. Like hype backlash, it's yet more proof that the critics aren't always necessarily correct and Quality by Popular Vote isn't always a reliable indicator of something's merit (or lack thereof).
Critical backlash tends to occur when critical reaction towards the product is tainted by some outside factor; overhype, overexposure and outside controversy may prompt the critics to focus on the noise surrounding the work rather than the merits of the work itself. Critics are often primed to dislike the product based on some preexisting prejudice and fail to look deeply enough for redeeming value, particularly if the work suffers from Public Medium Ignorance. Some critics may Follow the Leader and echo more popular and louder critics.
Of course, some things also just press a critic's buttons the wrong way; critics usually have different expectations and approaches than the wider audience, and just because something doesn't tick the right boxes on their checklist doesn't mean the wider audience might not find something of merit in it. Alternately, it may be that the vehemence of the criticism has conditioned the audience to expect the show's flaws, lessening the blow, and thus making what good qualities it has stand out more.
If the work develops a particularly devoted audience in spite of the critical drubbing, then it may experience hype backlash and critical backlash from different quarters; the work may not be as bad as the critics say, but equally not as good as its most ardent fans claim, falling instead somewhere in between. Cult classics have often suffered from a critical backlash, only to be later rediscovered and Vindicated by History.
Adaptations and works that generally fall into a critic's Acceptable Targets radar (such as animation and science fiction and fantasy) often receive this kind of reaction. This phenomenon is deeply related to the Streisand Effect and No Such Thing as Bad Publicity.
Please note that this page is not a personal blog to discuss your personal experiences of this; this page is all about the general properties which tend to receive this treatment. Remember also that tropes are tools and that this is YMMV; seeing something you hate here only means that other people may not hate it as much as you do, not that it doesn't have points worth of criticism, so try to resist the urge to make a justifying edit.
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A lot of hatred for certain in name only adaptations comes from the perceived insult to the audience's intelligence that anybody could possibly think the adaptation has anything to do with the source material. Some of them would probably have been better received if they were not claimed to have been adaptations.
You can easily feel this after listening to your average Caustic Critic. When they claim everything they review is the equivalent of suffering from diabetes, AIDS, cancer, STI and herpes all combined while on fire, it can be easily to believe things aren't nearly as bad as they say.
Anime and Manga
Code Geass has received so much exaggerated praise and exaggerated criticism due to its broken base status that long after the show originally aired different people regularly experience either critical backlash or hype backlash (depending on their expectations, degrees of suspension of disbelief, etc.) after they finally get to see it for themselves. It's not surprising to see newcomers arguing that the series doesn't deserve all the hate or all the hype.
Much like InuYasha below, the soundtrack from Bruce Faulconer's production team for the FUNimation English dub of Dragon Ball Z was reviled early on, and its fans became more vocal over the years since the show's airing. The dub overall has its own supporters as well.
The InuYasha anime plays around with this: when the series first came out in [adult swim] during the early 2000s, the show was considerably renowned, but the English dub from Viz Media and The Ocean Group was openly reviled by fans (sure even back then it had its supporters, but still). However, over time, the fanbase for Viz's English dub became a lot more vocal and, while it may not be seen as one of The Ocean Group's finest works, it is still considered to be a good effort. Unfortunately, while this was happening, the show was starting to get a lot more backlash (due to various things such as hype backlash and the show becoming more episodic). It has even gotten to the point where plenty of viewers think that the English voice acting is the only good thing about the show nowadays (especially in the case of Naraku and Koga).
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny has such a vocal hatedom that anyone watching the show after its initial run is liable to experience a Critical Backlash. The show has its issues, certainly, but since nothing could ever hope to be as bad as the hatedom claims it is, it's not uncommon to find people for whom all the bile is hard to understand.
A character example is Katejina Loos from Victory Gundam. By the time most people discover Victory and watch the show, they will have been told again and again that Katejina is "The Queen of Evil" in the Gundam verse. They will have been told repeatedly that she is more evil than Gihren Zabi, Yazan Gable, Muruta Azrael, Lord Djibril, Ali Al-Saachez, and Decil Galette, and more annoying than a gene-splicing Katz Kobayashi and Flay Alster mixed with the blood of Scrappy-Doo himself. While Katejina is undoubtedly a horrible person, there is simply no way for her to be as revoltingly awful as the fandom makes her out to be, and many people watching Victory for the first time (years after it aired) find themselves actually noticing her few good points, if only because the fandom's (largely deserved) bashing of her, makes her bad ones something you just sort of accept.
Naruto having such a massive fanbase as well as a large, and vocal, Hatedom (a portion often holding it up to Double Standard for things they may let slide in series) means that in addition being possible to suffer from Hype Backlash, hearing about the series from its haters means having Critical Backlash can be just as likely.
The Wham Episode ending for Neon Genesis Evangelion in the form of the movie The End Of Evangelion becomes a lot less tragically depressing if you come in expecting the show to be, well, tragically depressing. For most people, the fact that it came out of nowhere and derailed the series, killing off several major characters and giving us the infamous Tang ending is what really caused a lot of emotional anguish to the audience. However, thanks to It Was His Sled and the numerous explosions on Internet forums and on this site's page description, it's almost impossible to go into the show not knowing it will experience eleventh hour sadness due to Creator Breakdown. Thusly, when everything starts falling apart after episode 20, and the show forcefully cranks out the Deconstructor Fleet and Tear JerkerUp to Eleven, the implausibility borders on mildly depressing to So Sad It's Funny.
Following the Seasonal Rot of the Fairy Dance arc, quite a few anime fans who have previously praised Sword Art Online, have switched to bashing it by series end. Not surprisingly, an increasing amount of folks are saying that the hate and backlash for the show is quickly reaching this territory. This is actually the opinion of Toonami themselves (whom probably witnessed first-hand many requests of SAO coming to the block get retracted when the show moved on to Fairy Dance during its Japanese run), as their rationale for picking it upin response to the backlash.
The entirety of Brian Michael Bendis' Marvel career, really. People either love or absolutely hate him and his work (to the extent that he got death threats over killing Hawkeye) but there's been a growing wave of positive reviews for his more recent work. The most recent volume of Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man and All-New X-Men seem pretty popular and generally have very good monthly reviews from the critics.
That and there's always been a huge amount of Critical Dissonance with his writing. For all the people on the internet screaming about how he's "ruining" comics, his work consistently sells very well.
In the Spider-Man pantheon, Maximum Carnage and The Clone Saga are routinely used for target practice by seemingly everyone under the sun. While they are probably not examples of the best of Spidey's career, there are many people who genuinely feel that both stories don't warrant the sheer volume of backlash routinely given to them. One reason for The Clone Saga being less hated is how it was streamlined in the 90s cartoon (as was the Alien Costume/Venom origin). Everyone in the fanbase and critics hated One More Day more. A lot of people do acknowledge that the Clone Saga had some very good material, (among other things there was an excellent miniseries called The Lost Years), but it dragged on far longer than could be supported by the story, resulting in the endless cycle of who the clone is until everyone stopped caring. Another problem is that some of the stories were very bad, among them the death of Dr. Octopus, though some were even worse than that one.
the 2010 film version ofThe A-Team only got a 47% score on RT, but regular movie goers have enjoyed it because it's meant to be just a fun, crazy, popcorn film, like a lot of summer movies, not a thought-provoking thriller like The Dark Knight. It's also probable that the reviewers never actually watched or enjoyed the original show.
Dude Wheres My Car is considered a great movie that is purposefully stupid, and has a big enough cult following to have been remembered all these years later. Yet critics rarely got it.
Gigli is an interesting case. A lot of its initial reviewers declared it to be a bad, but not terrible movie. Somehow the torrent of mildly to moderately negative reviews, combined with the fact that it starred Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez (who were the "it" couple at the time) transformed it from "bad movie" to "worst movie of all time". Roger Ebert actually took time out of a different review to point out that it wasn't that bad.
The American Godzilla (1998) film often gets this; true, it does severely depart from its source material, but as a stand-alone monster film and as a "realistic" take on the Godzilla franchise, it's not bad, and some of the die-hard Japanese Godzilla fans admit to liking it (and especially its Animated Adaptation) better than some of the official Toho films (some of which have been known to be famously horrible).
Heaven's Gate was annihilated in reviews and became one the most dramatic flops and Genre-Killers in Hollywood history, but some modern critics have suggested it wasn't as bad as it was made out to be. Part of the problem was that the film had received so much bad publicity during production due to delays, cost overruns, stories about Michael Cimino's hyper-perfectionist directing style, protests from animal rights groups and 1/3 of the film being cut, that critics were already expecting it to suck by the time they reviewed it. Although critics have softened their views, the original version is still panned, as the cut muddled up the storyline. On the other hand, the rerelease of the uncut version in 2012 was actually very well-received.
The film adaptation of The Host has been well and truly savaged by critics, leaving it with a meager 10% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Opinions vary as to whether this was deserved, depending on your fondness for Stephenie Meyer's novel.
Hudson Hawk was raked over the coals by critics when it was released. They thought it was an absolutely terrible action movie. And it was. Many viewers since have, however, noticed that it is a pretty darn good comedy, which is what its creators intended all along. It has also found an audience among anime fans due to the startling number of parallels to Lupin III.
One of the main issues was that the film was poorly marketed, the theatrical trailer made the film look like a fairly straightforward action film, when it was anything but, so movie-goers were caught off-guard.
On lists of Worst Best Picture Winners, Ordinary People is often given a high rating. But this is possibly because it beat Raging Bull to the Best Picture Oscar. The film itself is a very subtle, quietly moving film that doesn't deserve the almighty kicking it gets.
Kevin Costner's The Postman was a commercial failure and its premise sounds ridiculous the first time you hear it, but it's certainly no Battlefield Earth and the premise does makes sense after you think about it.
Speed Racer. Critics hated it and it wasn't a very big hit, but many of those who watched it consider it to be a fun, if silly movie.
The Star Warsprequels tend to get varied reactions from audiences. This is an agreement amongst some fans that The Phantom Menace's reputation has been blown out of proportion by people more angry with how the film was a disappointment than any actual legitimate criticism. While the first two were panned by reviewers, Revenge of the Sith was released to great acclaim.
Dark of the Moon which, while getting slightly better but still negative reviews, grossed over a billion.
Many people feel this way about Waterworld. It arrived in theaters in 1995 with both the baggage of its gigantic budget and Troubled Production (the sets got hit by a hurricane and that still wasn't the biggest issue) and growing critical and audience weariness with Kevin Costner, and its story is hackneyed, but its scope and scale are genuinely impressive.
In general, any old kids' summer movie will usually end up like this, with most of them being trashed by the critics but even many adults just see it as Glurge or Narm.
Although Mark Kermode is well known for his rants against films he thinks are poor he references this when getting feedback from anybody claiming that any mediocre modern multiplex blockbuster (or would-be blockbuster) movie is the "Worst Film Ever". Since he's got quite a sizable movie collection, he has invited listeners to come to his house and watch some of his obscure erotic and horror movie videotapes to see how terrible the real worst films ever made are; "A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell", "Over-Sexed Rug Suckers From Mars", and "SS Experiment Camp" being some named examples.
You know, a lot of critics back in the '40s would probably look at one series/universe today and wonder why people like it. They hated it because of how it was written, even using the same stock phrases people use to describe the Inheritance Cycle. Now? If you criticize it at all you'll be deemed "illiterate" by its Defensive Fans, who have given it the prestigious "Sacred Cow" badge. What is it? The Lord of the Rings!
British author Colin Wilson first hit the big time in 1958 with a book of critical literary analysis called The Outsider. This was at first hailed as a critical success and the big-name critics couldn't get enough of this perceived driven young genius whose personal life was also newsworthy - it turned out he was living rough to save on rent and spending his days in the British Library researching and writing. However, with subsequent books the critics turned and savaged him, perhaps fearing they'd been over-fulsome the first time. While still having cult status, Wilson's "formal" literary career never really survived this early critical Heel-Face Turn.
A lot of this had to do with his non-fiction writing: Wilson has written a number of histories of occultism, and publically stated his belief in some supernatural phenomena. He also wrote what is widely regarded as one of the most risible books about Jack the Ripper (at least until Patricia Cornwell got into the act).
Two and a Half Men is trashed as the Antichrist of sitcoms. The show itself is mostly guilty of trite jokes and plots. It also gets away with a lot more sex jokes than its time slot, and having a minor as a co-star, would seem to allow. Plus Charlie Sheen's real life antics seem to color many people's perception of it even though he has since left the series. Yet is always among the top watched shows.
The Beatles final (sort of) album, Let It Be, was derided as a mess of half-done songs and sloppy editing, and arrived in stores after they'd broken up. However, it contains "Let It Be", "Get Back", "The Long and Winding Road", "Don't Let Me Down" and "Across The Universe", two of the Beatles most famous songs.
Bob Dylan's 1978 album Street-Legal was slaughtered by critics (in Rolling Stone's review Greil Marcus started out by calling it "a joke" and got even more vicious as he went) for its Springsteen-ish arrangements and sometimes inscrutable lyrics. It's even been speculated that the album's poor reception might have helped drive Dylan to convert to Christianity. But after a remixed version was released in the '90s many fans have embraced it as one of their favorite albums.
The Hatedom of Justin Bieber has gotten to the point where even people who dislike his music think all the hate is overblown.
The album My Beauty by former Dexy's Midnight Runners lead Kevin Rowland came in for some of this. In this case, many critics chose to focus their ire on the fact that Rowland chose to wear drag and make-up on the album cover. This led the album being one of the worst-selling in the label's history, with only about 500 copies shifted; however, on its re-release after the the controversy had died down, later reviewers found it to be a relatively solid album of cover tracks.
The 1970s musical genre of disco isn't the naming genre behind Deader Than Disco for no reason, but it's nowhere near as bad as many of its more virulent critics would make out.
Part of the problem is that much of the disco was commercialised and nothing like the original genre. For instance, pop disco songs often featured far too many strings.
It's also a case of Double Standard, many people feel free to mock classic 70's disco hits but yet some acclaimed current artists still get inspiration of the genre, Random Access Memories by Daft Punk was a success of both critics and public and is a love letter to disco.
Ironically a lot of music that is nigh untouchable by critics today (unless they're insane) was actually hated by critics back in the day.
Megadeth's Youthanasia and Cryptic Writings experienced this to the point where they are now considered great albums. Risk is on the verge of it, the album being the butt of jokes despite the fact Mustaine corrected a lot of the Executive Meddling when he remixed and remastered it in 2004. In a reverse of the situation, the once well received 'return to form album' The World Needs A Hero is now considered lackluster.
Adam Buckley of A Dose Of Buckley makes reference to this effect on his 'Musical Autopsy' and 10 Worst Songs of the Year videos when he's deluged with comments asking why X, Y, or Z song isn't on his list by replying that musically and lyrically a particular song isn't actually that bad or that he simply can't think of anything funny to say about it.
Teen pop and boy bands tend to have this happen once they fade out of the spotlight. Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and N Sync were hated almost as much as Justin Bieber back in their day. Today, with these groups/musicians now seen as nostalgic and the culture having found newteenpop to hate on, it's become at least tolerable to admit to liking them.
Frank Sinatra was the original teen idol in the 1940s. Most of his songs of that period were hated by men across the globe, because girls went crazy over him. Yet as Time Marches On and Sinatra became more associated with a mature adult singing about more world wise topics these songs from early in his career have been judged on their own merits and are actually quite good. In fact his voice never sounded better.
Nickelback gets plenty of hate, often voted as the worst band ever to the point where many non-fans doesn't feel that it's deserved and rather consider their music as bland but not awful.
John Cena, or more specifically, his wrestling ability. While Cena's move set is certainly limited and his matches can be formulaic, he's nowhere near as bad as a lot of his detractors will have you believe (at least in comparison with most other WWE main eventers with similar schedules). On the flip side, when he has a good opponent to work with, his psychology and understanding of story can lead to classics such as his Money in the Bank match against CM Punk; the same match that managed a five-star rating from Dave Meltzer, the premier writer of the The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the first one Meltzer had given the WWE in over fifteen years. For comparison, Shawn Michaels has only had two of his matches rated as five stars from Meltzer, and he's often regarded as the best in-ring performer of all time. The Undertaker, a similarly highly regarded wrestler, has only ever managed one, and that was the first Hell in a Cell match against Michaels back in 1997, the last time WWE ever managed the five-star rating. Punk's second draw with Samoa Joe in their trilogy back in Ring of Honor was the first match in the United States to gain the rating in years. The fact that Cena managed to gain such acclaim for one of his matches indicates that he does have some amount of talent, no matter how much the other guy is carrying the match.
Alpha Protocol: Savaged by various reviewers who panned it for being unpolished and glitchy, scaring off the vast majority of first adopters, it has become a cult classic whose fans admit that it has flaws but enjoy the vast replayability it offers.
Bomberman: Act Zero was intended as a Darker and EdgierContinuity Reboot for the "next generation," but its Halo-reject characters, uninspired dingy levels and pointlessly hard single player mode (99 sluggish, repetitive levels to play on one life with no continues or saves) won no awards. To further irritate fans of the series, few of the power-ups from previous installments were retained, and offline multiplayer, one of the series' biggest selling points, was not available. The game's only possible redeeming feature, its online multiplayer mode, was written off by most people for a long time; with copies of the game collecting dust in bargain bins, it was doubtful that people would actually be eager to actually play it. Then ProtonJon's livestream featured it on a dare, and a lively series of 8-player matches ensued.
Deus Ex: Invisible War is actually a really good FPS and received average critical scores of about 8/10. To hear the fans talk about it though, it's the worst heresy ever spawned from the pits of FPS hell- or at least little better than Daikatana and it is even considered Fanon Discontinuity by some. This is more because it simply can't live up to the original, largely because it's accused -with some justification- of being "dumbed down" for the Xbox (however, if Invisible War was dumbed down, you can't blame it on the Xbox - the original Deus Ex did just as well on PS2).
It still had a much, much more down-to-earth story than the original game did, which arguably became almost a caricature by the end. Heaven forbid you say you liked it better than the original.
Many reviewers chose to follow the crowd in bashing Dragon Age II, calling it a dumbed down action game, when in fact it still features the tactical combat just like Dragon Age: Origins, only faster. The game did have its problems (recycled dungeons, unpredictable enemy spawns), simplified action commands, and removed isometric view for the PC version, but the writing and dialogue were very good. It probably doesn't help that BioWare was caught planting user reviews from its employees, was quotedout of context in wanting Call of Duty 's audience, and that there was a ridiculous amount of pre-order DLC available. Despite a flood of harsh negative user reviews, many fans will agree that it's still a solid overall game.
Many in The Elder Scrolls community will lead you to believe that Oblivion will insult your parents and rip out your brain and shit on it before stabbing you in the nads. This is only a natural cycle...they said the exact same thing about Morrowind, only for most of the fanbase to drop that when Oblivion came out and gave them a new target.
Despite a certain someone making it extremely trendy to rip on Final Fantasy VIII, there's still a large fandom for the game, liking the more complicated character drama, the subtle nuances of the plot, and the card game.
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is becoming an example of this trope as well as its fanbase is starting to become a bit more vocal over the years. More people are willing to be okay with how simplistic the game is and find it to be a fun little title nevertheless (though its fairly renowned soundtrack probably helped).
Final Fantasy as a whole can get this response since the franchise's fanbase alone directs its source of hate towards a noticeable portion of the series haters at whatever their least favorite entry is.
This YouTube video actually shows the reviewer honestly saying he didn't find Zelda's Adventure and Hotel Mario to be as bad as everyone says they are — he even goes so far as to say that he liked them, despite having his fair share of complaints towards the games. In fact, the CD-i in general had this used by the reviewer, who said that it actually wasn't that bad, usually saying it was So Okay, It's Average.
There is a top 10 worst cd-i games list made by Johan Oberg, which is also the only list of its kind. Though he hated all three of the Zelda CD-i games on the console, he also said that they weren't the worst games ever made. The games weren't even the worst games on that console (reflected by the fact that he put it at #3. Later on he also made a top 10 best CD-i games, in which Hotel Mario was at #10 (his opinion about the 2 other Mario games on the console isn't known).
Senran Kagura. Any article that mentions this game will be flooded with comments about how said game is "ruining" gaming as we know it. Kotaku tried turning it into Dragon's Crown 2.0 by bashing the game during it's localization announcement. And what do the people that actually played it say? It's a pretty damn good brawler.
Ok, Unreal Tournament III was an Obvious Beta at the launch moment, which played a bit against it, critically speaking, in the beginning. It isn't Unreal Tournament or Unreal Tournament 2004. However, its gameplay isn't the bad the fans of previous installments make it to be seen, and with the advent of the Black Edition, it was just improved in any sense possible, and it's actually worth of a high place in the series' quality.
When the PC version of Final Fantasy VII was released on Steam in 2013, many who played it (including those who played for the first time ever) didn't think it was as bad as the hatedom says that it is.
Beast Machines originally had quite a bit of backlash after all the praise and love Beast Wars got. With the advent of fansubs of Japanese produced G1 material and the later dubbing of TheUnicronTrilogy made many people realized their weaknesses made Beast Machines strengths stand out more (animation, story, characterizations, etc.).
Plenty of Disney movies before their "renaissance" or "Second Golden Age", actually. Even some that were considered to be the "Dork Age" or "Black Sheep" of Disney's animation like The Black Cauldron have cult fanbases today.
There's also Home on the Range, which was heavily bashed by critics, and continues to be, even on This Very Wiki. But if you look on deviantART, YouTube, or IMDb, you'll notice that it has a decent fanbase who compare it to Disney's films from the 40's and 50's.
Some Looney Tunes fans argue that the Daffy/Speedy series isn't as bad as it's made out to be. Many even argue that several of these cartoons are, by their own merits, actually pretty decent.
Same with Loonatics Unleashed, despite critics and some fans not particularly liking the premise, the show does have a considerable enough fanbase.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a subversion. While some critics were initially quick to dismiss it as "just another sugary sweet girl's show", its unexpected popularity led many to rewatch the series and reconsider their opinions of it. It now stands as one of the most critically acclaimed kid shows on television.
My Little Pony Equestria Girls plays this straight. As soon as the movie's very existence was hinted at, involving a plot where the ponies become teen-age humans in high school, a portion of fans pounced and rocked the very internet with drama. Even now people who haven't even seen it yet continue to hate it. However, most people who have seen it, while agreeing the story is a bit weak, admit that it is entertaining and definitely worth watching.
The Mike Scully-era episodes of The Simpsons are starting to get this. While almost nobody thinks they're as good as "Golden Age" Simpsons, some of them are still pretty funny and watchable in their own right.
For how much hate Star Wars: The Clone Wars got from The Movie, many people have come to see it more along the lines of "Not too bad" instead of "It rivals The Star Wars Holiday Special for badness". Part of the reason for this is that most people now watch it, less as a standalone movie, and more of a pilot for the highly regarded animated series. The television show has been applauded in several circles and the much hated Ahsoka has her fans.
Total Drama has been a frequent victim of this over the years. After an immensely successful first season with Island, its immediate sequel Action has frequently been derided by fans as a significantly weaker followup to an otherwise well-received series, so much to the point that some fans refuse to acknowledge its existence. World Tour was better received, but easily led to the Broken Base in the fandom due to the controversial love triangle arc that dominated the second half of the season, as well as its finale which was considered hit or miss, depending on who you ask. Revenge of the Island was relatively well-received, but the introduction of a completely new cast didn't sit well with all fans, and even the mutated island theme was a mixed bag or some. However, Backlash mounted significantly with the release of All-Stars, which quickly became reviled for what is widely recognized as weak writing amplified by inconsistent character development, a lack of integrity to the plot, a lack of focus on the crossover between the show's first two casts, numerous abandoned plot points for no apparent reason, a weak villain, unbalanced focus on characters considered over-exposed, and a major Downer Ending. Fan backlash proved so strong that All-Stars gradually assumed Action's status as the most hated season in the series.