“Put your hands on the wheel, let the golden age begin.”- Beck, “Golden Age”
The opening quote as nothing to do with television. It’s a line from a Beck song that sets the table for the basis of this post, that there has never been a better time to be a fan of watching television. I’m purposefully understating that last bit because the shows I will offer up to you as evidence of the fact that premium services like Netflix, Hulu, et al. are not only vastly improving our viewing experiences, but in fact saving television from certain doom. The following lines, paragraphs, and stanzas will explicitly convey why this trend is so strong, what to invest in, and why networks like Fox and NBC should stick to the news and Lakers games.
So let’s start with the obvious, that word premium, meaning that yes, you pay for it. Services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video cost around 8 dollars per month for a dearth of content. This content is diverse and includes blockbuster films, documentaries, and critically acclaimed exclusive series, which are the major selling point right now. This is the category in which streaming services hold the largest advantage. For one, Netflix and HBO are not prohibited by content restrictions, that means a show like Game of Thrones can get as graphic as it wants to be. And it does. Preservation of art and the omission of censorship is of the utmost importance for shows hoping to make the audience feel the gravity of a situation. In the case of a drama, for instance, the intention is to make the feeling of gravity last.
That’s one of the shows that started it all, House of Cards, David Fincher’s political thriller about Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood, and his ruthless quest to control Washington DC. The complexities and nuance of a program like this could only work on a streaming service where you get 52 minutes of uninterrupted storyline, 13 times each season. This, along with the ability to “binge watch” one episode after another, make the impact of a program like this, and others like it, resonate with the viewer long after the credits roll. You feel as if you have much more at stake with these characters whose lives you’ve become so invested in. For me, this began when I decided to embark on the unexpected journey of catching up on AMC’s mesmerizing Breaking Bad. The tragic saga of Walter White, is one of the most consistently phenomenal shows ever.
For the better part of a decade, the video game publisher EA Sports has claimed exclusive rights to release its storied “Madden NFL” franchise, one of the best-selling games of all time, without any competition from other developers or publishers. EA’s legal monopoly in the world of virtual pigskin is the opposite of what we’re witnessing in the rise of premium video services like Hulu, the newly minted HBO Now, and Amazon Prime Video. The fierce competition between all these players in the field leads to better actors, better writers, and better entertainment for you to take with you on the city bus.
To my next point, why then do networks and cable even bother trying to compete with this new generation? The short answer is pride, but the real answer is, they’re not. You see, most network shows like Castle or The Blacklist are fully available on Netflix. The American pop culture institution known as Saturday Night Live, has its entire run of shows and specials up to this point available to subscribers of Hulu Plus. As with any business in which one entity wishes to make a profit, one entity must have a proper hook. After all, you’re not just going to gleefully fork over your hard earned cash to just any service. Or maybe you would, we’ve possibly never met, so perhaps you’re into that sort of thing. Another way networks are trying to stay relevant is in the introduction of shows based on comic book super heroes like Gotham, The Flash, and Marvel’s Agents of Shield. These are franchises with already large installed fan bases, resulting in a higher probability of success.
These programs are actually quite well received, and satiate the desires of fans to see their favorites like young Bruce Wayne, on the small screen while waiting for the next major film release to arrive. Oddly enough though, one of the best comic book shows, Daredevil, is one of four Marvel series exclusive to Netflix. Hopefully you watched the trailer above this paragraph. I’ve mentioned Netflix a lot, that’s because it undoubtedly holds the “cream of the crop” title at the moment. I mean they essentially forced HBO to create an online streaming only service, because the way we consume media is simply a lot different than what it once was. If I want to watch Silicon Valley in a Chipotle parking lot, I should be able to.
This, friends, is the new golden age of television. Never before have we been given so much high-caliber, upper echelon content so easily accessible. From fascinating and thought-provoking documentaries, to gut wrenching dramas, the time to jump on board is now. No matter which service you choose to invest in, you can’t go wrong. If you can’t find something you like, you’re just not looking. You’ll discover so much you never thought was there.
So what shows are your favorites? Do you still find yourself watching “appointment tv”? Feel free to sound off in the comments. If you liked this post, head over to letterstoicehouse.wordpress.com for more from yours truly.