Has Netflix Murdered the Age of Event TV?

The days of everyone watching Game of Thrones together on Sunday night are over.

Liam Cunningham in Netflix's '3 Body Problem' Season 1

3 Body Problem is the first TV show Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have completed since their medium-redefining HBO series ended nearly five years ago. At the time, the controversial creative decisions Benioff and Weiss made throughout Thrones’ final two seasons dominated the cultural conversation. Whether you liked the finale or hated it, you were probably talking about it.

Despite the show’s high-profile nature, the popularity of its source material, and its considerable budget, 3 Body Problem hasn’t caused nearly the same stir as Benioff and Weiss’ previous show did every season. Is that because the new Netflix series hasn’t been a success so far? The streamer’s metrics are too unclear to say with any real certainty. However, one thing 3 Body Problem’s recent premiere does seem to confirm is that the age of event TV viewing is officially over.

Spoilers ahead for 3 Body Problem Season 1.

Eiza González’s Auggie is at the center of one of 3 Body Problem’s most shocking moments.


3 Body Problem is no less ambitious than Game of Thrones. While it isn’t nearly as awe-inspiring as that HBO series managed to be, it is the kind of big-budget genre show designed to capture viewers’ attention and dominate cultural conversations.

As they did with Game of Thrones, Benioff and Weiss pack 3 Body Problem’s first season with jaw-dropping moments. Whether it’s the sudden, violent demise of Jack (John Bradley) that caps off its third episode or the ship massacre in the fifth installment, the series isn’t lacking in set pieces and twists that keep viewers engaged and guessing.

It was those kinds of moments, which Benioff and Weiss always seemed to know exactly where to place, that made watching Game of Thrones a TV experience that’s rarely been rivaled. HBO’s commitment to releasing episodes weekly allowed its most shocking moments enough space to breathe, which only further emphasized the importance of sequences like The Red Wedding. As the show’s reputation grew, so did the fear of spoilers. And so, by the time Game of Thrones reached its fourth season, the majority of the TV viewing populace was tuning in to watch the show’s new episodes at the same time every Sunday night.

Season 1 of 3 Body Problem, for all of its flaws, had the potential to capture a similar level of attention. By dropping all of its episodes at once, though, Netflix has robbed the show’s biggest moments of their weight. It’s made the show something viewers can watch at their own pace, which has made the wider conversation around it frustratingly diffuse. That’s a far cry from the kind of engagement Game of Thrones not only cultivated but encouraged. The further away we get from it, the more it looks like Game of Thrones may have been television’s last true event show.

3 Body Problem may be a success for Netflix, but it could have been so much more.


From 2014 to 2019, watching Game of Thrones felt like a lingering monocultural experience in a digital world that had stamped such experiences out. That phenomenon has further faded in the years since the HBO series ended. The proliferation of Netflix’s binge model is partly to blame, as is the growing glut of streaming platforms. It’s never been harder for a TV show to rise above the noise and capture millions of eyeballs simultaneously. Game of Thrones did it. Could 3 Body Problem have done it? It’s impossible to say, but the potential was there. It wasn’t given the chance to act on it.

Benioff and Weiss’ latest offering isn’t the only Netflix original hurt by its binge release. Even a show like Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen, which is so relentlessly entertaining you’ll forgive its flaws and absurdities, feels like it could have become a mainstream, conversation-starting hit. Instead, the all-at-once Season 1 drops and Netflix’s reliance on its algorithm-based marketing strategies have made it hard for enough viewers to even find shows like The Gentlemen and 3 Body Problem, let alone watch and talk about them. They’re just more content.

More shows, even shows with huge budgets, aren’t being given the chance to take the world by storm. That’s frustrating for creators and disappointing for viewers. Why pour money into making a TV show if you don’t want anyone to talk about it?

3 Body Problem Season 1 is streaming now on Netflix.

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