Hi, it’s me again, back with another episode of Complaining About Your Favorite Things.
We love to think of streaming services as merely vessels. The tortilla chip that exists solely to shovel beans, beef and cheese into our mouths. Streaming platforms are the empty shells tasked with serving up heaping helpings of The Office and The Handmaid’s Tale.
The reality of the situation is that platforms like Netflix and Hulu do more than pipe overrated sitcoms into your living room.
They control national conversation. They dilute content for the sake of quantity. And they don’t give half a hoot about you.
Exhibit A: Cancellations
We’re all devastated when our favorite show gets canceled. We mope around and flock to Twitter to #SaveFirefly. Until the next wave of Netflix originals shows up and we’re once again sated by a half-heartedly animated show about a dragonfly with a personality disorder.
Here’s a list of shows Netflix cancelled in the last couple years:
- Dear White People
- The OA
- Tuca & Bertie
- One Day At A Time
- Santa Clarita Diet
- Altered Carbon
- The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
- Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj
But whatever, right? They replaced these with bangers like Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous and Brews Brothers and Sing on!, a new reality show where people … sing karaoke. Sweet of Netflix to bring the worst part of going out to bars right into my living room.
So, why does it seem like Netflix is constantly canceling shows you love and replacing them with shows you love a little less?
New shows drive subscribers, and new subscribers mean more money. No one ended their Netflix subscription after Luke Cage got canceled, but you can bet they saw a bump in new customers when Tiger King was dominating national conversation.
Streaming services know you’ll stay no matter how bad they treat you. They only care about getting your friend Jeffrey to get his own account and finally see what all the buzz is about.
Exhibit B: The Second Season Problem
Have you ever been entranced by a show and waited patiently all year for its second season to be released, only for part two to be a giant steaming pile?
Another example of Netflix’s very public disdain for you.
Netflix has both the capacity and the ability to produce top-tier shows that don’t dip in quality after the first arc. Their conscious decision to devote less money and effort into subsequent seasons stems from the fact that they know we’ll watch it anyway.
Case in point, the very first article on Geek Guy Buys dot com is about how the second season of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts was a watered down clone of the first season but without any of the emotional punch the first season hooked us with.
Netflix understands that we’re going to continue chasing the intoxicating hit of that first season and they can offer us full-price drivel while cutting costs on their own back end.
Exhibit C: The Deluge Of Bad Content
Netflix chucks hundreds of shitty knock-offs of your favorite shows at you. They also constantly foist handfuls of poorly written movies with one or two fading or B-list stars upon you.
Their hope, here, is that you’ll be so frustrated by scrolling through pages upon pages of shows that kind of look like your favorite cartoon that you’ll settle on something, anything, so you can finally tuck into your ramen before it gets cold.
The problem is so bad that my dear friend Austin Zook had to scrape the everloving shit out of Netflix just to find 5 – a literal handful – of Netflix originals that weren’t complete dogshit.
It’s manufactured complacency, plain and simple.
Is This Fixable?
I won’t join the growing chorus of internet writers calling for people to cancel Netflix, although there are some genuine points to be made in that corner.
The unfortunate part of the solution to this problem is that it requires an “all or nothing” effort.
As Netflix users, we have to reject our comfortability with the brand and stop consuming mediocre-to-bad content in order to fill the space between good content.
If you’re only keeping Netflix so you can watch the next season of Stranger Things, don’t put Hoops or Paradise P.D. on in the background of your weekly poker game. All it does is affirm Netflix’s decision to churn out garbage content.
Remember, the only reason Cherry Cola Oreos exist is because some asshole is still out there buying Swedish Fish Oreos.
My Call To Action here is Be More Critical. If you’re watching a show or movie and it sucks, shut it off.
Don’t force yourself to finish that mediocre second season. Don’t turn on that poorly animated Brickleberry clone.
Tell your friends not to watch them. Tweet about them. Start a blog with your buddy from college so the two of you can rip on bad content together.
Read reviews before you start shows so you know whether they’re worth your time.
It’s the only way we’re going to get more content like The Old Guard and less like Murder Mystery.
BONUS: Hulu Also Doesn’t Give A Shit About You
Hulu tweeted this on September 23rd:
If you don’t remember what happened on September 23rd, let me refresh your memory.
At around 2:30 p.m., a Kentucky grand jury indicted one officer with wanton endangerment in the Breonna Taylor case.
A few hours later, Hulu tweeted that. And left it there for hours and hours as people poured into the streets of Louisville.
Finally, they deleted the tweet and offered this in apology:
They left the original tweet up for hours. You know how easy it is to delete a tweet? Almost as easy as not tweeting anything at all.
Hulu saw public outrage over injustice and saw a marketing opportunity.