Maybe you’re like me and don’t want to be hurt again.
You tried, you trusted, you opened your heart up and you got burned.
You got burned good.
So good that it stings just to think about it and you swear, NEVER AGAIN all while you eye the new shows about to hit the streamers and you think, maybe this time will be different.
IT WILL NEVER BE DIFFERENT!
*applause, bowing, more raucous applause, feigned embarrassment*
As convenient as streamers are, man alive they are a pain in the butt. For years they have wanted to be considered with the mainstream over the air channels as a source for new content and well, they got their wish because now they do just what the big dogs do – put a show on for a season, or part of a season, don’t really support it much, then cancel it and move on.
And us fans, who gave our time and interest are left out in the cold asking – but, what happened to such and such?
WHAT HAPPENED TO SUCH AND SUCH!
And they don’t care, those big suits in small rooms.
They care about nebulous numbers and cutting costs.
This after they poured money into dumb, high profile projects like they were in the Champaigne Room paying for a lady’s time.
And it’s not like it’s one of them, but it’s all of them.
And it’s aggravating as heck.
I dunno how many shows we have watched, getting into them, getting the feel of that world and its mysteries, only to find out that oh, they canceled it.
Oh, and worse, they did it after the showrunners had set up a story arc that was meant to take up several seasons.
Back in the way, way back shows were generally pretty singular, which meant it didn’t matter if you had seen other episodes or not or if it just disappeared one day. Each show was self-contained.
Fun, but what if you built-in connections to bigger stories and to other characters?
Shows now have become longform stories where characters return, plotlines return or stretch out, and you get the feel that there is a larger story working in the background. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes the payoff just doesn’t work out with what they were setting up but occasionally it does and it’s spectacular.
For me, I am more drawn to these connected sorts of shows that tell a larger story. They are more ambitious and hold a lot more intrigue for me. It’s not for everyone, but I dig it.
Think of The X-Files or Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.
Shows that had episodes that were self-contained but an overarching arc that was part of a larger story being told.
With streaming we are seeing more and more risks being taken.
We are seeing a wider variety of the types of stories being told.
Well, we were.
For a while there it was a renaissance of genre storytelling and in risky television.
We were seeing representation, we were seeing new talent, we were seeing new stories.
The problem though, the first of many, was that there was just so much stuff it was hard to watch it all. Every streamer began focusing less on legacy content and older movies and more on new content. They created a beast that needed to be constantly fed.
They got us hooked on the idea of binging, BINGING our shows and watching a season’s worth of entertainment over a matter of hours, and after we were done, we felt empty and sad because now we had to wait another year or more for more episodes. Or we’d just move on to another service and another show.
These streamers have to keep our attention though, so it’s new, new, new. They keep pouring money into new projects so they have new content to hook us as we wait for our other shows to return.
We didn’t NEED to binge.
They didn’t NEED to dump all of the episodes out at once.
But neither one of us could say ‘no’ so we both needed more, more, more.
Hooked on the binging and trying to find the next great, buzzy show.
Suddenly we were seeing wildly different types of shows as reality television and game shows snuck onto the streamers, to fill the digital coffers. International films and television made their way on as well as the need to appeal to broader tastes and audiences became necessary.
It was all coal to feed the fires.
With more streamers there was more need for content to compete with one another.
More, more, more.
Until they realize that, oh, dear, we’ve put out a LOT of money and suddenly we aren’t getting as many new customers because there’s so much content, and the world has gotten so expensive, that people make hard choices.
They were buying movie rights and paying for shows and new content at such a rate that they got a little ahead of themselves and realized that, oh, dear, we can’t pay for all of this.
So out come the axes and chop, chop, chop go the shows.
The movies are theirs, though any sequels many of them were set up for were tossed aside.
New projects were axed.
Shows were canceled.
Suddenly legions of fans were finding out that they’d never get any sort of resolution to storylines and plots that had been slowly unwinding on their programs.
For me, I would never, ever trust a network or streamer beyond one season so I’d always want each one to be self-contained with crumbs that could lead forward. That way no one is shocked or hurt by the end of the road.
That’s not always feasible but then, maybe don’t keep relying on cliffhangers to try to force your way into a season renewal.
Maybe don’t play chicken with the purse holders.
It’s beyond frustrating though, as fans, to see so many of these shows just axed unceremoniously and unless you follow the programs or entertainment news you may not find out it was canceled for a while as you wait, wait, wait with baited breath.
My mom would always get excited for new programs every fall, asking if I was going to watch this show or that, and I began telling her the same thing – I don’t wanna start something that’ll just get canceled.
She’d foo me and then, lo and behold, a few months later that show’d be canceled and she’d be frustrated.
I guess if I had a wish, it’d be that these streamers cared about their viewers.
Sure, you can’t spend like you’re drunk and in Vegas but you also owe it to your viewers to not betray them so often with sudden cancellations. I get it, business is sorta seat of the pants at times but geez, have a plan. Maybe don’t greenlight dozens of shows at a time hoping that some of that poo sticks on a wall. Maybe stop pouring tons of money into aging celebrities and stars in the hopes that they can conjure some old magic once more – sure, hire them, but not for multi-picture deals worth tons of money.
For me, it’s sad to see the streamers become just like the rest of network and cable television and going so hard on fake reality television because it’s relatively inexpensive to produce.
It’s about eyes though, and about subscribers, and content.
More, more, more.
Entertainment has become like so much of our American world, another all you can eat buffet where we can’t say ‘no’. We just eat, and eat, and eat because they’ll make more.
The streamers are no better than cable or network.
They are just the same.
They just had deeper pockets and took more risks.
For a while.
The boom has ended now and now we’re going to see the return to safe content.
They are filling the demand they created and we bought into and neither one of us can say ‘no’.
And sure, we could pace our viewing, we could expand our palette, or we could stop trying to consume everything but we won’t.
We’ll get disappointed, burned by the fire, stories left unfinished and questions unanswered, and we’ll swear off diving into new shows, not wanting to get hurt again, but we can’t resist.
We can’t stop.
It’s the new way things are done and until we are willing to get up from the table, they’ll keep bringing the food.
Sure, they may stop serving our favorite dishes but there’s gotta be something else in there that we’ll want to eat.
We just gotta keep feeding to find what we like.
I write books, make movies, review movies, and podcast. Hit the links to see what else I do!