Tuesday 7 November 2017

#305 Why are so many Netflix shows set in the past?

Nostalgia. It's astonishing to me the number of series that take place ten, twenty, thirty years ago. Before anyone interrupts, I have no idea if that's a new thing, meaning, maybe TV has always had a certain percentage of nostalgic programs. It's definitely a current thing.

During the last two weeks, I burned through both seasons of Stranger Things, a show set in the '80s. Before that it was Better Call Saul. '90s, which itself was a prequel to Breaking Bad. '00s. Why? Was it just easier and more realistic to create a show where the characters weren't sitting around on their phones 24/7?

It's not that I don't like those types of shows. I lap them up like a kitten drinks milk. I just worry that it'll get too hard to make shows about the present, either because of the phones thing or because nobody has any real experiences anymore, which is the same as the phones thing.

Another reason for making shows set in the past is to remake or sequelise shows that were set in the past. It allows moviemakers to tap into an existing audience. Take the 2016 version of Ghostbusters for instance. Except that wasn't a remake because the original movies were brilliant whereas the latest effort... although I feel bad using the word effort... was about as watchable as a puddle of ectoplasm.

Perhaps the number of good films that can be made are as limited as the notes on a keyboard. A finite set of plots, settings and characters that can be woven into amiable combinations and all we can do is to remake them in cycles while playing with the cast and graphics. If that's the best we can do then so be it. I rather enjoyed Stranger Things despite its shameless similarities to E.T. and The Goonies. I look forward to Netflix's next nostalgic series. Whatever limit there is on the number of films that can be remade, it hasn't been reached yet.


Fizzfan said...

I guess it’s just easier to make things about what has happened already. The futures a bit hard to relate to if not impossible.
I really like things from maybe the 70s onwards. Before that it all gets a bit twee. Old black n white films are hilariously bad due their god damned wholesomeness.

Just finished watching Halt and Catch Fire on Amazon Prime about the emergence of the internet and gaming from the 70s up to the 00s. It was excellent.

Also binged a little gem on Channel 4 last night called The End Of The F*****g World. It was about the present. The world didn’t end but I liked the gritty realism of the 2 teenagers.
I’m a bit drawn to weird hard hitting truths and troubled unpleasant characters that aren’t really.

I might have a look at Stranger Things....I like the title

Profound Familiarity said...

It sounds like your tastes are a bit dark.

Surprises me that you liked the gaming (documentary?). You don't strike me as much of a gamer. What drew you to it?

What drew you to this blog?

Fizzfan said...

You’re right my tastes are a bit dark and off centre. Yet I do also love mainstream and mushy too.
How would you identify your tastes?

It was a 4 series American drama. The reviews were great and the Internet was such a huge game changer, I just started watching and got hooked.
My son is a HUGE gaming fan and although I don’t play (I’m too old and way too slow) he has gradually made me aware of how massive that world is. Multi million dollar big stadium competitions worldwide and just growing and growing. He’s hoping for some kind of career in the industry which amazingly you can even do a degree on now.

Cath encouraged me to have a look at your blog and after a while I started leaving comments.
Like a lot of good things, I guess I’m now hooked:)

Profound Familiarity said...

My tastes... mainstream. I watched 24, house of cards, narcos, breaking bad. Shows with a strong male hero or villain.

I wonder what games your son plays. I was into World of Warcraft but it was really more of an addiction than a hobby and I can't play it and participate in real life, it has to be one or the other. I spent all of March this year playing it.

One of my sister's friends is a gamer. He's called Phil and was at Blizzcon this year. Here's his Twitter name: @_the_Quietman

Fizzfan said...

Loved 24! Lost a lot of sleep not being able to tear myself away from the next episode.....Narcos is one I must watch. House of cards didn’t grab me enough quickly enough to plough on. Breaking Bad - Awesome.

My son plays all sorts but yeah World of Warcraft and DOTA? No idea what that means....it’s all a big mystery to me but I’d say it’s almost a way of life to him. Like you were, he’s probably addicted.
He instantly knew what Blizzcon was......I don’t think he’s much of a Twitterer tho