When the first episode of “Sorry for Your Loss” debuted on September 18, it seemed as if the stars had finally aligned for Facebook Watch, the tech giant’s bid to take on premium TV.
The reviews for the 10-episode series were stellar, and it eventually landed at a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. The story of a young woman dealing with the unexpected death of her husband moved critics, with The Atlantic calling it “funny and candid and wrenching right from the start.”
And even before the show launched, its trailer had already inspired Facebook users to post their own stories of grief and loss, an element of social sharing that demonstrated the unique position of Facebook as a TV platform.
These early signs of success were no doubt a relief for the show’s star Elizabeth Olsen, who had spent over three years deeply involved in the project and was paid $250,000 an episode, according to Variety. She had starred in movies, but it was was her first TV show, and it had taken a leap from Showtime (at one point in development) to a largely untested Facebook.
The first episode got 4 million views, according to Facebook’s count, which, despite Facebook “views” registering after only three seconds, is impressive.
But since its debut, “Sorry for Your Loss” has so far proved another flop for Watch, which hasn’t scored a scripted breakout hit similar to “House of Cards” (Netflix), “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu), or even “Cobra Kai” (YouTube’s “Karate Kid” series reboot).
Facebook had an atypical release strategy for “Sorry for Your Loss,” dropping four of its 30-minute episodes on September 18 and the rest in pairs. Though this is not the norm for either traditional TV or streamers like Netflix, Facebook plans to experiment with similarly irregular blocks of episode releases for coming shows.
Consisting of 10 episodes, the first season of “Sorry for Your Loss” ended October 9 (though all episodes are still available to watch on the platform).
The second episode saw a stark decline in views from the first, falling to under 200,000 (from 4 million). The episode with the fewest views was episode six, which has received about 82,000. But generally, the distribution of viewing has been choppy, suggesting some of these episodes either made their way into people’s feeds or got better placement from Facebook some other way.