April 30, 2022

605 words 3 mins read

Netflix is in a Race to Content Rock-Bottom

Yesterday it was announced that Space Force, on Netflix, had been canceled after two seasons. It was a good show with an all-comedy-star cast, so of course Netflix would kill it off. Then this morning I saw the news that Legends of Tomorrow, on CW, was also canceled - but after 7 seasons. All the news of canceled shows made me reflect a bit on the direction of TV programming.

Netflix has canceled so many shows after two seasons that its practically a meme. Maybe I’m just unlucky because I have interest in scifi and have no desire at all to watch Bridgerton. On the cable networks you expect them to cater to the masses because there is a limited amount of time they can schedule shows, but Netflix doesn’t have that issue. They should be able to cater to every niche interest without a problem.

At one point in time we had The History Channel and Discovery Channel, which were bastions of quality intelligent TV on what otherwise could be a bunch of trashy cable networks. Even they have slowly succumb to the bottom of the barrel content. That which cannot get any worse or any more uselessly unintelligent: Reality TV. There is almost nothing left on the History Channel that isn’t truly junk programming. Ancient Aliens? The Proof Is Out There? Swap People? Come on.

Looking at the Discovery Channel original programming isn’t much better either. Some of it is quality docuseries, some decent reality TV - like Dirty Jobs. But then it looks like about 50% of their programming is devolved trash. American Choppers, Cash Cab, Fast N’ Loud, Misfit Garage & Street Outlaws. One of the few shows that Discovery did right on was Mythbusters, for which I will give them full credit.

The point at looking at the cable channels is they were an example of what not to do. Netflix was supposed to be the savior of TV. Except they are headed in the same route. Right now 3 of the top 10 series are reality TV trash: The Ultimatum, Selling Sunset and Married at First Sight. That’s not too bad, thankfully, but you know what isn’t on the list of shows canceled by Netflix? Reality TV.

No, I don’t hate every reality TV show. Some of them are “reality” only in so far as they are not scripted dramas. Like “Is It Cake”, “The Words Most Amazing Vacation Rentals” or “Best Leftovers Ever”. Those with some redeeming value are sadly lumped together in the same category as the rest of the trash: Love is Blind, Too hot to handle, Married at First Sight, Single’s Inferno, Life After Death, Teen Mom, Selling Tampa, Selling Sunset… you get the idea.

Since those trash shows never seem to get canceled (Just look at TLC’s “90 Day Fiance” and all the spinoffs), that leaves Netflix slowly but surely getting heavy on just a few things: Reality TV, Documentaries or Docuseries and standup specials. Don’t get me wrong, I love Documentaries - but they are clearly popular for Netflix execs because they are cheap to make. Same goes for Standup specials. Taylor Tomlinson’s Look At You was hysterical.

No, I’m not starting a #CancelNetflix chant. I’d just like network and TV execs to think about the shows they make for more than 3 seconds of number evaluations. Yes, there are always going to be a ton of people who will watch the lowest common denominator of unintelligent TV - but that doens’t mean its a good thing. Maybe it’s ok to challenge people to be more active and think critically while being entertained.