Netflix is really throwing itself into the original programming game. After scoring the boon that is cult hit Arrested Development as it heads into its highly anticipated follow-up season, we started paying heavy attention to the streaming site’s lineup of original series. Naturally, the fact that the former home of the DVD-in-a-red-envelope has added a potentially controversial comedy from Ricky Gervais (according to Deadline) to its lineup piques our interest, for a few reasons. The biggest of which is that it further complicates the tone that Netflix is cultivating with its original series. What exactly does it mean to be a Netflix Original Series?
We’ve got a few coming down the line, but it’s almost impossible to find a thread. At a glance, it seems that perhaps Netflix is all about the comedy game. Orange is the New Black
, a drama with comedy elements from Weeds
creator Jenji Kohan
, follows a female inmate in prison (Laura Prepon
didn’t impress too many people, but it’s a goofball series about a former mobster in the witness protection program learning to live in a tiny Norwegian town. Arrested Development
is one of the most absurd, hilarious series to ever grace a television. Gervais’ Derek
is a comedy that follows a middle-aged man who works in a nursing home; the series has already been incorrectly criticized for mocking disabled people. Other than that minor mix-up, that lineup is so far full of pretty funny stuff. Then we’ve got the brick wall: David Fincher’s Kevin Spacey
-starrer House of Cards
. It’s a political drama from the man behind movies like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
and Fight Club
— he’s not exactly a man known for comedy.
With the exception of Lilyhammer, every series comes from big-name folks: Gervais, Kohan, Fincher, and Arrested’s Mitchell Hurwitz. So the chain isn’t quite complete there. Finally, taking a look at the themes of each series, we might find a connection: each series is rather bold. Whether it’s about a dysfunctional, corrupt, possibly mentally defficient family, or a troubled middle-aged man working in a nursing home, or a lady in prison, or Spacey’s corrupt politician and Steve Van Zandt’s ex-mobster, these series all include elements of darkness, absurdity, and sensitive issues.
So it that it? Netflix his the home for bold series? (Don’t tell them that’s Fox’s tagline: “So bold, so brash, so Fox.”) Of course, there is one thing throwing this wave of original series off: Netflix has shown interest in snoozy series like Terra Nova
and The Killing
. Thankfully, the website didn’t pick up the failed series, proving that there is some sort of angle they’re working. Of course, we’ve only seen one of these series so far, Lilyhammer
, and the response was little better than the mild grumbling from a few critics. Netflix is setting up a serious slate of high-level series. Will they deliver on their bold “promise?” We know Arrested
will, and with the people they’ve got helming their other projects, the outlook is pretty good.
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[Photo Credit: Wenn]