Are Netflix’s Nostalgia Trips Squelching TV’s Creativity?

old family tv

We all enjoy reliving the past now and then, but is Netflix’s approach going to give us enough time to create a new TV future? This definitely will get  you thinking:

by Kate Knibbs

Netflix is apparently super close to inking a deal to reboot Full House, everyone’s favorite family-oriented sitcom about a grieving widower, his children, and his fuckup adult permanent houseguests leeching off his benevolence and remarkable real estate in San Francisco. And you know what? Uncles Jesse and Joey aren’t the only leeches in this situation. Netflix has cornered the market on milking 90s nostalgia, and the reboot fever it has inspired in the golden age of TV is bad for the art form and worse for our memories.

Just as the film industry has gravitated towards remakes and reboots because a known quantity is always a safer bet than the unknown, this ballooning roster of resurrected shows is happening because they have built-in audiences, not because the stories are especially compelling or the creators are especially passionate.

Netflix has already ordered reboots of Inspector Gadget and The Magic Schoolbus, so the reintroduction of Kimmy Gibbler into our lives isn’t unprecedented. Far from that, this Full House bid shows that Netflix is seeing how its competitors have recognized how potentially lucrative it can be to be nostalgia vultures, elbowing deeper into the wistful cesspool of sentimentality profiteering.

Netflix isn’t actually producing some of the most highly anticipated upcoming 90s reboots (no, not fucking Coach, though that’s a thing that’s happening). Fox is rebooting The X-Files and Showtime is reviving Twin Peaks, so those networks share some blame. But because Netflix offers a wide variety of older TV shows, like The X-Files and Twin Peaks, it gives these shows a second life and a new audience. And now that television executives realized that Netflix was essentially priming the pump for new decade of reboot material, it’s now open season on 90s TV retreads.

The weirdest thing about the remake fever is that it’s not even a very good scheme, financially. Remakes are considered fairly safe bets because they have that built-in audience, but more often than not, rebooted TV shows flop. So this is a fairly bizarre trend, one that prioritizes the asset of a known entity than anything else. In 2009, a former NBC programmer cited how well film remakes do to explain why networks are obsessed with reboots. That thinking clearly holds true here— maybe, just maybe, the rebooted Full House could be like the Jaden Smith remake of The Karate Kid, which pulled in nearly $400 million worldwide.

I’m not saying that these reboots will all be terrible, though I have an abiding fear that Chris Carter will somehow inject even more incomprehensible nonsense into the X-Files mythology and also that Skinner won’t be hot anymore. Some of them may be good! And in some cases, a reboot can be a chance to finish an incomplete story. But as an overall trend, they’re bad for the TV business because they peddle echoes of memories, not creativity….

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