If I’m honest, the thing I’ve mot enjoyed watching on Netflix has been Stargate Universe, which (though cruelly cut short) is still the best 40 episodes of TV science fiction ever broadcast. And although I’d seen it before, I really enjoyed bingeing it, and watched 3-4 episodes a night since coming home in the New Year.
But what else is Netflix for? With the future looking increasingly like a confusing hotchpotch of competing but not necessarily overlapping services, it’s the original/exclusive content that’s going to be crucial in persuading you to part with your £6.99 a month. You’re not going to be able to pay for everything. Even if you can afford to, you’re not going to be able to watch everything, in the era of too much TV.
One such Netflix original is Master of None, which has garnered largely positive reviews, especially over on the TV Talk Machine podcast.
But I’m not so sure. I’m lukewarm on almost all of Netflix’s original content. In the must-see column I’d put Jessica Jones and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. In the not-interested column, I’d put House of Cards, Sense8, Orange is the New Black, and much more besides.
Somewhere in the middle falls Master of None, the modern comedy of manners from Aziz Ansari from Parks and Rec. It’s well-produced, original, powerful at times, and goes into new territory for a situation comedy. It doesn’t feature the same set, and has an expansive, changeable cast, all of whom circle around the main character, a fictionalised version of Ansari. The standout episode for me was the 4th, “Indians on TV”, which skewers the use of stereotypes and digs deeper into representational issues, which, when spelt out, make you gasp at the ridiculousness of it all.
On the other hand, I didn’t find it compelling or addictive. I’m not a particular fan of cringe comedy, which is why I never watched The Office, Parks and Rec etc. We watched Kimmy Schmidt over a few nights, but I’ve taken more than a month to get through Master of None. And although it’s mainly entertaining and he’s a likeable enough character, I didn’t really laugh at it. Which is a problem with a comedy. I don’t buy that you’re not meant to laugh.
The future is unbundled, and the networks are positioning themselves to offer their own streaming services. What worries me with both Netflix and Amazon is that they’ll end up with a load of old back catalogue shit abandoned by the networks, plus their original content. At the moment, it’s a toss-up. Amazon has Bosch, The Man in the High Castle, and Red Oaks. Netflix has Jessica Jones, Kimmy Schmidt, and stuff like Making a Murderer (which is okay, but it’s not Serial, nor is it The Jinx). If I could afford just one? Maybe it’ll end up being just one at a time…