'Warrior' Fans Question Why Show is Being Snubbed by Award Season Amid Calls for Asian American Inclusivity

As award show season begins in earnest, many fans are taking a critical look at the TV shows and movies left out of the running -- particularly Warrior. The action-drama premiered on Cinemax and then moved to HBO Max earlier this year, and it was conspicuously absent from several major awards shows this year. With the "Stop Asian Hate" movement picking up traction, many fans feel that the show is an example of Asian American achievements getting short-changed.

Warrior Season 2 premiered on Cinemax in 2020, making it eligible for many of the season's prestigious awards. It did pick up three nominations -- two Critics' Choice Awards and one Visual Effects Society Awards nominations -- but it was passed over for the Primetime Emmys, the Golden Globes and several other recognizable award shows. On Sunday, as the winners of the Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced, some questioned why Warrior was not even in the running. The SAG Award for outstanding action performance by a stunt ensemble went to The Mandalorian, and several fans on pointed out the differences between the action there and the intense martial arts choreography on Warrior.

Warrior is a period piece set in the late 1870s in San Francisco, California, where immigrants from China and other parts of Asia faced intense discrimination that history is still reckoning with to this day. It is based on an original treatment written by Bruce Lee in the 1970s, which was not made in his lifetime. Instead, Lee's daughter Shannon Lee and filmmaker Justin Lin brought the idea to realization starting in 2019.

Warrior is currently waging a unique campaign for renewal. The show was never actually canceled, but Cinemax opted to stop producing original content altogether when the show was in its second season. That leaves Warrior with no home and no one to renew or cancel it, however, the show saw a surge in popularity when it was added to the HBO Max catalog in January of 2021. Its creators are still hoping that it will find new life as a "Max Original" on the platform.


Meanwhile, the hashtag "Stop Asian Hate" has taken off in recent weeks as the public becomes more aware of the surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Asian immigrants. According to a report by Reuters, hate crimes against these groups rose by 145 percent in 2020, while hate crimes overall actually dropped. This has led to a fresh discussion about anti-Asian racism on all fronts, from hate crimes to media representation.

Warrior is streaming now on HBO Max. The series missed out on most of the 2021 award season, although it still stands to win "Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode" at the Visual Effects Society Awards.