Netflix is trying to be more original, sacrificing in the process the thing that made us all love the streaming service in the first place.
King of the Hill and Oreos. That’s how I spent a solid few weeks of my life back in 2011 when I was first living on my own. Netflix provided the Mike Judge comedy and my blind love of chocolate and fake cream filling fueled the the rest. It was pure binge watching bliss in its infancy — watching a show I remember as a kid but never being able to fully enjoy. That’s what Netflix was.
That’s not what Netflix is anymore.
We all have a story like that, experiencing some (probably more than a few) binge sessions where we take in either a show we loved or a new show we missed the first time around. From The Larry Sanders Show to Friends; How I Met Your Mother and MASH. Hell, Breaking Bad became the giant hit it was thanks in large part to Netflix lobbing it a huge assist in the form of being able to binge the first few seasons and catch up. Like the X-Files and the early days of the internet, Breaking Bad will always be linked to Netflix.
Netflix and X-Files, however are now a different story and that sucks.
All things eventually change, and perhaps it’s a natural resistance to that which makes this hard but Netflix pivoting away from what made us all fall in love with the service initially is a hard pill to swallow.
You’ve probably heard by now but Netflix is blowtorching shows like X-Files, Scrubs, Buffy, Bob’s Burger, American Dad and a slew of other binge-able “old” shows to pave the way for original content. This comes after they — over the years — axed stalwarts like King of the Hill, Doctor Who, Everybody Loves Raymond and MASH.
The home for binge watching your favorite classics closed up and moved to a new neighborhood.
What this basically means is we’re going to get a couple hundred shows we won’t watch in order to get one or two House of Cards or Stranger Things. Let’s be honest, the ratio of Netflix originals that we like to the ones we skip over to get to the shows they’re now axing is very high. We can pretend we’re all about Kimmy Schmidt or Chewing Gum but most of us are pretending so no one thinks we’re uncool or not hip.
To be fair, Netflix investing $1B in original content is not unsurprising. Ever since House of Cards made the service a legit network threat, the idea of producing more original content is a seed that has grown and grown.
Then came Orange is the New Black, Narcos, Stranger Things, Adam Sandler original movies and the acquisition of original Marvel spinoffs. All of those properties ended up being massive successes as far as streaming numbers were concerned and hammered in the final nail in the coffin of the old ways.
But with the original content and the lust for critical acclaim in the form of award hardware comes the other edge of that sword. Already Amazon is infringing on Netflix’s original content turf and Hulu has been happily picking up the scraps tossed aside by both parties as the arms race intensifies.
Perhaps this is just the cost of doing business clashing with dual-nostelgia (binge watching old shows and being fond of the days where we could binge watch old shows), but it still stings. Netflix was never going to be the same thing forever but it’s that end of an era and a return to the dark ages of home video purchases for those looking to indulge in the world of television yesteryear.