'The Ranch,' Chelsea Handler, and Netflix's Other New Prestige-less TV
As Netflix prepares to move aggressively into the original programming race in 2016, it’s slate of upcoming shows reveals more than one stinker.
When Netflix began developing their own original programming in 2012, they did so cautiously. The result of that slow progression was awards-bait dramas like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. While the streaming network has revved up its original programming in the last few years, it’s been a deliberate process and pace, and allowed Netflix’s original programming to premiere as a big-time events, as opposed to just another new show pilot.
Then, last December, Netflix’s Chief content officer Ted Sarandos announced a bold plan to double and triple Netflix’s production of original shows in 2016 and 2017. This coming year will see the release of 31 scripted series (compared with 2015’s 16 premieres) and Sarandos assures us that there’s even more to come.
With the amped-up release slate, the inevitable result is that Netflix’s once- sterling reputation for quality programming will take a hit. Just take a look at the catastrophes the network’s got in the offing.
What starts as a reasonably intriguing trailer for a prestige drama starring Sam Eliott quickly pulls a one-eighty and descends into a boring sitcom: cringe-worthy jokes about quinoa and “playing both ways.” If you’re one of those people who constantly wonders how in the Hell Ashton Kutcher gets work, this rote piece of junk definitely won’t resolve things.
The Ranch seems to think that cuss words are enough to compel audiences to watch what seems, at a glance, an uninspired family comedy in the same vein as Two and a Half Men. Hey, it might be a hit with the CBS crowd, but aren’t they all too old to operate Netflix, anyway?
Netflix diminishing their doc output to expand more heavily into comedies, movies, and dramas.
Chelsea Handler’s talk show
Netflix really has zero excuse for this one. Okay, maybe Chelsea Handler attracts international audiences or maybe she’s an acquired taste. I, for one, have never been able to withstand the “comedy” long enough for her to permeate my brain. Chelsea Handler is like the female Dane Cook. Her booze-soaked persona is such a stale put on and her jokes are the laziest kind of tripe; it’s impossible to imagine how she got a Netflix show.
It’s impossible to imagine that Netflix needed a talk show — but why choose Handler as their keynote personality? Just today, Handler dropped some details about her new talk show, presented as a memo to herself.
It might be a little premature to say that The OA will be mediocre. Sprung from the minds of critical darlings Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, the drama could be worth a watch. But it’s still a huge gamble for the streaming studio. After all, while every critic in the land heaped praise on Marling and Batmanglij for both their collaborations and their independent forays, neither are household names.
I mean, what normal person has actually seen lots of things these two have done? Their highest-profile film to date was 2013’s cult-themed drama The East … and you have no clue what I’m talking about, do you?
Green Eggs and Ham
It’s one thing for Netflix to enter the kids entertainment market; it’s a necessary evil when you’re trying to compete with broadcast television. That’s why it’s a smart choice for the streaming giant to put more than 30 children’s shows into development. But, when you start fucking with Dr. Seuss, you’re crossing a line .
The 13-episode adaptation of the classic children’s book will follow the continued adventures of the book’s characters, because there was so much story left after the tall one decided to experiment with his cuisine a little bit.
The Get Down
Netflix is developing a musical drama with Baz Luhrmann. Honestly, you lost me at “musical drama,” not that “with Baz Luhrmann” is anything to get excited about, either. The Get Down is set in the 1970s and follows a group of kids battling political turmoil and turning out some of the greatest music the world has ever known.
That seems like a great premise until you peep the ridiculous period costumes, the indecisive tone of the show, and — again — it comes from Baz Luhrmann (#overrated). It looks like Glee with a straight face. Or Moulin Rouge without all the creativity.
Yes, Mumblecore is still a thing. As is Joe Swanberg, a man who’s down-to-Earth oeuvre has run the gamut from inspired, real-life storytelling to complete and total shit. Of course, reviews don’t mean anything to Swanberg, a director who once talked up being prolific and making so much garbage art, “that people will lose the will to fight against you.”
If that wasn’t enough to get you “meh” about Swanberg’s new anthology comedy series Easy, then just consider that it stars Orlando Bloom and Malin Akerman, two of the most boring actors ever on screen.
Haters Back Off
Let this inevitable shit show be a lesson to studios everywhere: Never give a YouTube sensation his or her own show. I know it may seem like a good idea (she’s got 6 million subscribers!), but YouTube programming is the last resort of someone who’s chained to a cubicle for six hours and depleted the stuff on reddit.
Unfortunately, Netflix will learn that lesson the hard way, as they’ve given Colleen Ballinger-Evans, better known (I guess?) as Miranda Sings, her own family sitcom. Called Haters Back Off, the show will trail Ballinger-Evans’ character, “an incredibly confident, totally untalented star on the rise who continues to fail upward by the power of her belief that she was born famous — it’s just no one knows it yet.” Compelling stuff.