Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

How streaming ruined HBO and ended the Golden Age of series

By nr39r May27,2024

In our opinion, HBO has entered a new age of creative and financial hardship. I blame Netflix.

The move from HBO Max to Max is more than simply a logo change; contrary to popular belief, it has not signaled the demise of HBO. Instead, the brand is well-established within Max, which encompasses everything from the platform’s classic series to porreta reality dating shows. Although HBO has been struggling for some time due to other factors, this is more the demise of a television production method than the birth of Max.

Defining Peak TV. There was a lengthy and relatively agreeable period of television production known as Peak TV, Prestige TV, or, uh, The Golden Age of Television. While its boundaries are usually nebulous in such situations, the 1999 premiere of “The Sopranos” provided as good a starting point as any. Is there any other illustration? ‘The West Wing’ (1999), ‘The Wire’ (2002), ‘Lost’ (2004), ‘Battlestar Galactica’ (2004), ‘Mad Men’ (2007), ‘Breaking Bad’ (2008), ‘The Walking Dead‘ (2010), ‘Game of Thrones’ (2011), or ‘House of Cards’ (2013).

How HBO is significant. A cursory examination of that list reveals that HBO (or more specifically, the “HBO style” that pervades non-cable series like ‘Breaking Bad’) had a key role in this certification. But eventually, it started to go downhill. There are numbers to back this up; for instance, there were 516 original series released in 2023, a decrease of 14% from the previous year. To be more specific, experts had been predicting this slump for some time, with 2016 or 2017 being named as Peak TV’s decline years… but they failed to account for the meteoric rise of streaming services, which gave a much-needed boost to series creation.

The HBO aesthetic is in a downturn. With the beginning of the century and the arrival of rhythmic shows like “The Sopranos” and “The Wire,” HBO made a U-turn. A ten-hour or longer story necessitated languid rhythms, frequently reflective, which contrasted with the frantic pace of vintage television. But streaming codes are putting a spin on this trend, particularly at Netflix, which promotes binge-watching with its simultaneous releases of entire seasons and, as a result, lighter episodes to keep viewers from becoming bored.

The year 2023 was the worst. The stage of decline that Peak TV is currently experiencing coincides with a series of circumstances that have generated a crisis that goes beyond HBO: two strikes by creators that have put the industry in check; an actor as powerful as Warner giving the starting signal to cuts and restrictions that began on HBO Max and has ended up infecting other platforms, such as Disney+; Netflix announcing dizzying losses of subscribers in 2022, which, although it was a blip that has already been overcome, also inaugurated a period of cuts in the streaming giant… all of this has had an impact on quality television, which is very expensive to produce. , which is now in a clear recession.

A new age for television. Peak TV didn’t have to end at some point, and it’s true that every rise has its fall. It is because in 2020, after the pandemic, and as Variety explained in this report, there was a never-before-seen increase in streaming productions as a result of the platforms that generated the COVID restrictions collapsing. We are now in a recession due to the unsustainability of this extraordinary production, which has caused a crazy production pace in streaming and, in addition, has imposed visual codes and budgets very similar to those of HBO in the first centuries.

Cheap TV. In addition to all these restrictions that come with a time of recession like the current one, Netflix has imposed visual and budgetary codes that move away from the luxurious style of Peak TV: less financial investment, more television and less cinematic aesthetics, profusion of CGI, texture digital that tries to camouflage with bright colors… 44% of what is produced in streaming comes from Netflix, as the aforementioned Variety report counted, so it is normal that the platform has imposed its style and its codes. The age in which television was more than television has come to an end.

When the initial surge of customers stopped subscribing to Netflix, the company’s seventeen billion dollar collapse came to an end—in no little part because there was nothing to watch on the service. On the other hand, how about a descent from the pinnacle of decadence: the final episode of season eight of Game of Thrones, which was so gloomy that it was hard to hear the storyline, but it was definitely poorly plotted.

The explainers have spoken, and now everyone is agreeing that “streaming’s busted math” is a ponzi scheme. Television has apparently pulled a white-collar crime. Instead of making subpar mortgage-backed securities, CEOs flooded the market and shamefully wrote off the costs of comedies starring Kathryn Hahn, who really did a decent job! Whose goal is this plan, though?

No funds were withdrawn by the criminals. Victims who canceled before the end of the introduction period lost almost little, and in the meanwhile, they got Mrs. Fletcher and all the TV food in the world. Therefore, the devil’s plan was to maximize television production while remaining undetected. (They appear to have been actively trying to get caught up in all of their shows at the end!)

With no clear solution in sight for how a massive audience that had streamed their way through a pandemic would cope in the absence of the incalculable amount of time spent telling stories, the writer’s strike appeared to signal a system in disarray. If there hadn’t been so much to see, maybe we would have seen it coming.

As far as popular culture is concerned, Peak TV signifies the conclusion of an era, with 599 scripted programs reaching their last, least contentious incarnation. A mass market medium was reimagined as popular high art throughout the golden period. (David Chase actually informed the Sopranos writers‘ room that they were hiring for a show named Janet!) We were supposedly taught a lesson in a story where “too much” was given to us: an overwhelming amount of television programs and not enough time to view them all. However, the signal is drowned out by this extra complaint. Something that would not turn back on was disconnected and then replugged.

“The “bad fan” who “fast-forwarded past Carmela and Dr. Melfi to freeze-frame Tony strangling a snitch with electrical wire,” according to Emily Nussbaum’s description. In a TV-therapist-kind-of-way, it advanced with the several antiheroes doing numbers at the center of the culture, which was particularly relevant to a show staffed by playwrights and play-by-played the following morning on sports radio.

The “good fan” notion is its logical extension in this context. The unethical viewers stuck with the plot and cheered for the character they were given. Every single thing on HBO appeals to the decent fan because they are open to moral complexity. In contrast to the nice fan, the bad fan sought bloodshed. A good fan fulfills the bad fan’s desire for “service” by publishing photos of Shiv Roy in intentionally awful or incredibly nice publicity clothes.

The excellent fan puts on an air of refined decorum, but their true character lies in their politeness. These things are “let people enjoy.” As Brandon Taylor puts it, they have “all agreed to wear jeans to church” by subtly complimenting what has been passively absorbed. (Our TV pals don’t let their unused ovens get any dirtier.) Who can afford to resist television’s completely addictive pleasures? The excellent fan thinks their enjoyment is proof of their discernment—an eminently acceptable disingenuity.

By nr39r

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