The Netflix Theory: How Streaming and Premium Shows Have Changed How We View Television
Someone once said, “The times, they are a-changing…”, or something like that. I think this applies greatly to the world of entertainment, in
particular to how television is viewed. When cable television reigned supreme, we took on shows and appreciated them for what they were, even
if that meant poor writing, cheesy one-liners, and poor special effects. However, with the invention of premium and streaming services, shows
such as The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Daredevil and Jessica Jones have provided a new standard for groundbreaking television. With these shows,
have we as a society entered a new realm of entertainment?
I pondered this recently as I watched the premiere of a show on the newly dubbed ABC Freeform, called Shadowhunters. Based on the acclaimed book
series by author Cassandra Claire, after watching the show I found myself kind of taken aback. As a fan of both the book series and the film,
I had high hopes for the change to a television format, and yet I found the dialogue, the special effects and the many changes to the story too
difficult to enjoy the show. The changes to the story, several of the characters and the uneven pace of the story itself just made it
uncomfortable to watch. Then I began to think about the shows that are succeeding and have succeeded in recent years, and I asked myself, are
the high standards of these shows making it difficult to enjoy others?
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming the actors on the problems with the show. I can give you an example of what I’m talking about. Everyone
knows Shailene Woodley from her incredible work in films such as The Descendants, Divergent and The Fault In Our Stars. However, she had a
massive role on the ABC Family original series, The Secret Life Of The American Teenager, and that show was another example of cheesy lines,
unbelievable plot developments and more. Everyone has seen what an amazing actress she is, but because of poor writing, the show and the actors
on the show suffered.
Writing defines great television, as does most entertainment projects. The expertly crafted works of Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Daredevil and
Jessica Jones have brought some amazing performances from the actors on these shows because of deep and invigorating writing teams that have
perfected the art of television. Not only that, but maybe what has made these shows breakout is the fact that they are less restricted in their
What I’ve noticed as a consumer of these shows is that when a show restricts itself in some way, whether it be time constraints, dialogue choices
or just how realistic and gritty the visuals are, (i.e. sexual scenes, blood, violence, etc.), the show tends to suffer in production and
character growth. One cable network that is leading the charge to compete with the streaming and premium channels is The CW, which has their shows
push the limits with smart writing, strong visuals and not as heavy restrictions, allowing their shows to prosper and grow, and lessening the
amount of cancellations the network suffers.
So the question remains: Has the rise of premium and streaming television changed how we consume and enjoy shows? It certainly has for this
writer, and I think it’s changed for the better. After years of seeing great television shows get the ax from big networks because of an old,
outdated way of viewing numbers, its great to see higher forms of art taking shape on streaming and premium networks. 2016 looks to expand
these amazing types of shows, and it’s no wonder big screen actors are now flocking to television shows for their next big roles. This is my