As a paid subscriber, I'm certainly not anti-Netflix but when did we stop wanting the best as consumers? Nowadays it seems as though the company is stealing our cash and making some bad TV investments. When I say this, I don't mean everything created by Netflix is trash; far from it. That is, in fact, the problem. Over the years, Netflix Originals - here I'm going to specifically discuss TV shows - have revolutionised our eyes. There's Dark, The OA, Anne with an E, Black Mirror, Money Heist, BoJack Horseman, Stranger Things, Sex Education, Atypical, The Queen's Gambit, and Elite, to name just a few. Without a doubt, these make up my favourite shows of all time. If you haven't checked these out please do. But revolutionary content always comes at a cost; where there is the great, there is the extremely bad. I think this is an issue entirely by itself, some of us are guilty of expecting too much from a TV show. But in this instance, it's not the case.
Not every film or show is designed to be extraordinary, as consumers we aren't switched on enough to always appreciate Tarrantino's cinematic genius. I know I'm certainly not on most weekdays and I'm guilty of watching some trashy Netflix show instead. Acceptable. Although, what isn't is how Netflix appears to care more about its traditional cash cows over other nuanced shows. And what's more frustrating is that a lot of the latter, gain just as much traction and views as the rest. In the grand scheme of the world, having your favourite Netflix show cancelled, or multiple of is still heart-breaking. Even more so when the cash cow shows continue. A lot of us often forget the power that visual art has - there's no magic formula - but we can learn from them just as well as a book.
Though in recent years we've had series' such as Anne with an E, The OA, BoJack Horseman, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Atypical, Dark and The Patriot Act all cancelled by Netflix. Most of these shows offer something unique to the platform and to our own human development. You may be thinking, "really, a cartoon horse? What does Bojack offer our psyche?", but he does offer something, or he did for me at the very least. Even in a cartoon horse, the normalization and awareness of depression is never a bad thing. It's difficult to confine these shows into a sentence to demonstrate their worth, but Anne with an E is that feminist show; Dark and The OA is a visual sudoku puzzle for the mind; Atypical is an inclusive spectrum. TCAOS is a cauldron of wit and witchcraft.
Nevertheless, these shows are all extraordinary in their own right. But they all got cancelled. To Netflix, these shows are that avant-garde module you took for a few weeks in university or school - mine is ‘Fragments of the Union: The Cultural Making and Breaking of Britain (absolutely awful) - and gave up on. The OA only had 2 seasons, AWAE had 3, so did Dark, TCAOS had 4. Though that’s not to knock down any show produced as a Netflix Original to begin. As a writer, the arts industry feels like you’re getting bullied by the Dark Lord and Father Blackwood, so getting onto the big screen means exceptional kudos to anyone. But my issue is with how these shows ended despite having thousands, if not millions of views. So, Netflix, do you really care about your customers? Obviously not.
When AWAE was cancelled in 2019, fans waged a digital war with Netflix posting 13 million tweets, writing nearly 300,000 signatures on a Change.org petition and placing billboards to demand that show be renewed for another season. The Netflix angst aside, this reaction proves how the world will perpetually fight for what it cares for. If the viewers can, why can’t Netflix? Despite AWAE’s unflinching portrayal of slavery, sexual assault, feminism and class, Netflix still didn’t. Not that I know what goes on inside Netflix’s red curtain, but it certainly seems to be performing a magic show for the money Or more of it. We have Riverdale, Emily in Paris, Ginny and Georgia. In all honesty, I’ve seen a lot of bad Netflix films rather than shows, but the point still stands. The company doesn't care. Instead of investing in how many however many trashy seasons of Riverdale there are, or an obnoxious American who sets body positivity back decades with outfits that look good on no one put traditionally ‘skinny’ people or a show that should’ve been worked out a little more before hitting the screen. We have films such as To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and three of them, The Kissing Booth, A Christmas Prince, The Princess Switch. I mention these movies, in particular, aside from belonging in my cat Salem’s litter tray, as they all have sequels at the very least. From shows to many many movies, Netflix is unable to get the balance right between the great and the extremely bad investing in shows that should never have been made, to begin with.
Not being naive, I know that everything I’ve said is highly subjective. Of course, not everyone is into the same types of movies or TV shows, and neither would I expect people to be. But we as consumers of Netflix are part of the problem too. As viewers what we watch the most is what Netflix keeps on making, for the most part anyway. There wouldn’t be six-plus seasons of Riverdale if so many people didn’t enjoy the show, but as we know, so did the fans of AWAE. Just not enough of them clearly. Before you say or think anything, I’m not telling you to stop watching Riverdale, or anything else for that matter, but I do suggest that we as consumers need to be mindful of what we consume whether that’s what we eat, what we watch or who we interact with as we help define the standards of all of those things. But my advice to Netflix and other media platforms, visual art is not about numbers or statistics so why should the fate of our film and TV shows be?