Netflix was the pioneer of the bingeable television show. Remember that before House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and the revival of Arrested Development, original programs from online streaming services were unthinkable.

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TL;DR In this opinion piece, I share my frustration with Netflix's massive investment in original programming.

This new platform contributed to what many have called the "Golden Age of Television." The new mode of viewing that Netflix offered combined with a focus on representation and stories that have never been told before (including those of queer people and families of colour) to a wide audience yielded several of shows that earned widespread critical acclaim.

Think about how boundary-pushing some of Netflix's earliest endeavours were. Orange is the New Black, Grace & Frankie, Sense8, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, all feature unconventional characters and storylines.

Because of that early success, Netflix decided to invest heavily in original programming. Earlier this year, the company dedicated eight billion dollars to its originals.

Even before that, Netflix began to push out shows almost weekly. But these new programs lacked the daring plotlines and care that that characterized its first productions.

This process did yield some gems. The Crown and Stranger Things both became worldwide phenomena. Most recently, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and The Haunting of Hill House dominated social media discussion.

But most new Netflix originals are like by-products of the corporate machine, with stories that feel like they were crafted in stuffy boardrooms.

Santa Clarita Diet, Disjointed, Insatiable, and The Rain are unbearable. Worse, scroll through just the Wikipedia list of Netflix originals and you'll see titles you've never even heard before.

Scroll a little further down on that list and you'll be dismayed to discover at least one hundred upcoming new original shows.

Netflix can spend its money however it chooses. It doesn't force its customers to watch its original programming – but it certainly tries.

The most annoying part of this overproduction of original shows is the resulting oversaturation. Netflix dashboards are flooded with recommendations for original shows. The algorithm that yields personalized viewing suggestions certainly seems biased toward Netflix-produced content, too.

The king of streaming cares more about quantity than quality, more about profit than the valuable social critique its shows once offered.

Netflix dominates contemporary cultural production. What does it mean when it abandons its commitment to good tv?


 

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