Netflix: The Streaming Platform That Ate the X-Files
No this is not about “Netflix N Chill”… (I know you read that title as “ate out”….)
It’s a foregone conclusion that streaming is going to eventually be the end of traditional network TV.
Yeah, yeah, I know people made the same predictions about the death of the legacy newspaper industry and yet it has clung to survival as it tries to ride the tsunami of digital disruption attempting to wipe it out. It may end up looking like a completely different beast in ten, then twenty years (more video, interactivity, citizen journalism etc), but I don’t see it dying out even if a simple Google search for “death of the newspaper” brings up a bazillion articles about it…
But good ole fashioned TV?
I come to this conclusion not just because the revenue model, advertising, that TV is predicated on has been blown apart by digital marketing/ advertising/the interwebs, but because I recently watched The X-Files.
Whoa, I hear you cry, don’t you be getting down on Scully and Mulder or I’ll be saying “Sayonara baby” quicker than an alien life-form can reshape itself into a bottle of ketchup so that you ingest it and the aliens take over the world.
No, it didn’t happen in an X-Files ep but let’s face it, some other cray shit just like it did.
And all power to that cray: It was The X-Files FFS.
I have to break the bad news that Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+, Amazon Prime etc etc have sadly killed The X-Files for me.
Admission: I LOVED the X-Files.
LOVE LOVE LOVEDDDDD.
And still love Gillian Anderson — if you have any doubts about her Screen Goddess status, watch The Fall, or even better, Sex Education.
Wow. Speaking of which…
Picking my clammy self up from the floor now that we have my boy and adulthood crush crap out of the way, I have to break the bad news that Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+, Amazon Prime etc etc have sadly killed X-Files for me.
Here’s how it happened.
First World Problems
I was away in Far North Queensland, Australia, on holdiay staying at a resort that had really crappy wifi and the worst cable TV ever. And it was raining, even though the temperature was still super hot.
Under the heavy burden of this massive accumulation of first-world problems, I was forced to watch commercial TV. In Australia, this is a lot better than it used to be, I can’t deny that, and certainly more so as the main networks have expanded their offerings via a range of secondary channels.
So, there I am, flicking between channels and BOOM I stumble across reruns of the X-Files on SBS (which for the die-hards, can also be streamed on-demand).
“It Wasn’t Even Real Cream Cheese, It Was Light Cream Cheese!” — Scully, the X-Files
The episode in question was about weird those tree-dryad-nymph-bark beings knocking off locals in some backwater US town, which ranked in Buzzfeed’s “The 20 Scariest X-Files Monsters”.
Won’t argue with that — they were defo kinda creepsville.
However…and here we go…after about 10 minutes, even though I was admittedly disturbed by the bark dudes and dudettes, the show itself…yikes.
It just looked so cheesy.
I know things date. Everything does, like everything, although some things defo date then undate and be cool again like vinyl or the walkman or pacman (maybe should be pacperson nowdays, same same with walkperson) or a whole range of other stuff, particularly threads.
When it comes to Art, some dates and some doesn’t. For example, I can watch The Sound of Music (at least until the party scene — after that it’s always been a bit of a huge drop off the cliff for me although I often hang in until the “What is it you cunt-face Maria” line — I even wrote about it once) or Jaws or Star Wars: A New Hope or any other number of films over and over because it is their having become dated that makes them even cooler — plus, like certain literary works or paintings etc, they are just simply perennial.
And there is some TV that goes with this, in fact quite a lot of TV: Give me the original Lost in Space over the modern remake any day of the week! First few seasons of The West Wing, The Sopranos, Sex & The City (or some of it…) etc etc
TV is Dead: Long Live (Streaming) TV
Sadly that short peek at what I thought was one of my all time favourite series — and still is, at least in a more nostaglic overarching kind of way — was both deflating and exhilarating.
Deflating because some of the boyhood gloss (read: a lot) of loving the X-Files has sadly worn off….
Exhilarating because a new great age of amazing TV is before us.
I know this because recently a friend asked for three recommendations from my Netflix list…and I gave him nearly TWENTY…which, sure, I was able to cut back a little but I dropped off some shows I really really loved.
Shows like Atypical, Sex Education, Schitts Creek, The Crown, Big Mouth, Russian Doll, Mindhunter, Haunting of Hill House, Ozark…and that’s just the Netflix offering. Even the networks and their subsidiary channels and on-demand services are showing some seriously brilliant TV — can we talk Years and Years already? So good. As for Veep. WORSHIP.
A short break to continue the worship…
Sure, there are huge back catalogues that the platforms have the commercial networks a lot to thank for because they were shows essentially produced and funded by networks who could raise the cash to buy them from the advertising revenue back in the day.
But we are just at the very beginning of an era where both the streamers and any number of content producers are going to churn out literally tonnes of new content to satisfy binge-hungry audiences.
It’s not all going to be great. In fact, I can easily name and shame a half-dozen shows or movies I’ve flipped off after the first twenty minutes or episode…and, interestingly, some others I’ve done the same with then revisited when prompted by mates — Schitts Creek being the perfect example, and The Good Place — and have ended up LOVING the Schitt out of ‘em.
And yet thanks to the hunger of a content-hungry audience, more and more will get churned out, meaning there is a growing watchlist of TV to watch that becomes more and more diverse as it tries to differentiate itself in the marketplace.
It’s All Good. Mostly.
Bottom line — it’s a good thing. Mostly.
Certainly a boon for creatives working in film and TV production, from extras standing in line to buy a coffee behind Jennifer Aniston in The Morning Show to up-and-coming directors getting to work with a Hollywood set suddenly turning to TV because it’s where all the work is…and good work too. Not pay for your kid’s college education or in-between movies work.
And it’s great for us, the consumer, who are happy to commit to shows that we hear about from friends or social media or via the platform curating them to our inboxes or apps.
Maybe not so good for the networks and commercial TV stations, who I fear will slowly be eaten up by the streaming platforms or big tech or eventually converged in so they remain viable a little longer.
And not so good for TV news, which may struggle unless it can adapt and find a place somewhere on the streaming platforms in the on-demand world, although my prediction on this is that legacy media will become way more focussed on video/live-streamed content and far less on copy, so the news will live on in one form or another.
And sadly, for a range of once groundbreaking TV like the X-Files, which I thought would remain forever untouchable, with such a huge amount of quailty content coming out it means they will begin to look a bit tired…dated…
And maybe even have a great big “X” put through them.