Is Anyone Actually Watching Amazon’s $300 Million ‘Citadel’?

I find myself pretty much plugged into mainstream shows on TV or streaming services at all times, and yet here we are The penultimate episode of Citadel which aired yesterday on Amazon Prime, and I swear anecdotally at least, I haven’t heard a single person, in my online or real life circles, talk about this series without prompting.

Does anyone actually watch Citadel, Amazon’s big-budget spy series that reportedly cost $300 million?

That’s what I’m trying to find out, but Amazon has basically said next to nothing about the show since it launched. At the time, the headline was that Citadel debuted to “big ratings” on Amazon, with Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke saying “Citadel, the #1 title on Prime! In its series debut, the show attracted one of the largest global audiences in Prime Video history – such an incredible showing for a new and original IP.”

So it is true that the Citadel is still #1 series on Prime for episode 5 here, but what does that mean really so? Unlike Netflix’s rapidly changing Top 10 list with tons of rotating shows, Prime has far, far fewer original productions. Looking at their list right now, for example, there are four different movies in the top 10, including 2016’s The Accountant with Ben Affleck and 2012’s Safe House with Ryan Reynolds. The Country Music Awards are there. Even Reacher is still there, the big Amazon show that debuted in February…2022. It’s practically a year and a half old, and it’s still in Netflix’s top 10. So, yeah, the point is, I’m not sure being the #1 show on Amazon Prime is that difficult in its current state.

However, after the rankings, the show was shown to have around 25 million viewers for its premiere, which would indeed be Prime’s biggest debut since Rings of Power, also Amazon’s insanely expensive Lord of the Rings series.

But beyond these numbers, how big is this fan base? I really wonder, given some of the other data here. I know Priyanka Chopra Jones has huge global fan base, but a lot of the chatter based on that is mostly about her rather than the quality of the show itself.

On the review pages, Citadel is in an odd spot. Reviews of the show are not great, 54% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. While the 71% audience rating is better, I’m more focused on the fact that there are only about 500 audience reviews, period. He IMDBCitadel only has a 6.2/10 with 12,000 reviews. Netflix’s Queen Charlotte, which debuted a week ago, has 22,000 reviews. The Citadel also dropped to the 7th most popular show on IMDB behind the likes of Queen Charlotte, Silo, Succession, Ted Lasso, The Diplomat and Love and Death, and is the weakest showing of all of them.

Finally, the idea that Netflix greenlit this sprawling Citadel universe may not actually be the case. I believe the other two international versions may already be in the can, but there have been reports that the show has already been pre-renewed for season 2. As of this week, maybe not? Here’s producer David Weil talking about how it’s not officially true, and sounds like any other series trying to make a comeback:

“Well, we’re not official… I know, there were reports about it. We are not officially green for a second season. What I can say, though, is that, you know, the Citadel universe is robust, and there are so many themes by the end of the season that would be very exciting to pick up in season two, and hopefully beyond. So there’s a lot of mythology to unpack. You know, me and the rest of the creative team – we’ve been living with this series for so many years. So, you know, kind of buckle down, I would say, because there’s definitely going to be a ride, hopefully.”

The overall impression I got was that Citadel is doing well…for an Amazon series, at least initially, but we’ve seen a bit of bragging since the premiere. And it doesn’t just have to be okay, it has to be blockbuster with such a price attached to it, and I see no evidence that this is the case. Heck, it might not even rebuild.

There’s something wrong. I don’t think this is going well.

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