"The Netflix Age" Liberates Writers

Do you remember what it was like to use a rotary phone? Or flipping through less than a dozen available television channels? That AOL CD-ROM? The list of extinct, or nearly extinct tech-related idiosyncrasies can go on and on. Let’s hope that commercial interruptions are soon added to the list.


Ken Auletta, the media decoder for The New Yorker, in a five-part series, provides insights into the future of television. In the "Age of Netflix," the viewer has become spoiled, and rightfully so. (The moment someone decided it was a good idea to make commercials louder than the actual program, it was time for their swan song.) Now we’re used to watching what we want to watch when we want to watch it, and we’ve become accustomed to enjoying our shows all the way through. No commercial breaks. This isn’t just a welcomed change for us, it’s also a very wonderful thing for television writers, it turns out.

“What writer wouldn’t like to write a longer series, a series where he or she doesn’t have to constantly recap and build up for the commercial break and then build down and then build up for another commercial break?” muses Auletta.  “[Now they] can write as if they’re writing chapters of a book that people could read consecutively.” Or rather, voraciously, as “binge watch” has entered the lexicon of the "Netflix Age."  Writers who are free of the story structure imposed by commercial breaks can take more time with their characters, giving us deeper, more complex worlds and relationships on screen. This is a great thing for art, and a terrible thing for our gym resolutions.

If television producers—the Internet and traditional ones alike—are to compete today, they must give their writers the freedom to create the stories that audiences now crave. Indisputably, we are in a renaissance of television, which began, one could argue, with the "Sopranos" then onto "Made Men" then "Breaking Bad" and "Game of Thrones." There are of course many others to mention. What do their intricate story-lines and rich characters remind you of? “’So I can build characters,' the writer says," points out Auletta, citing the luxury that writing for commercial-free Netflix and HBO gives their writers. "'I can actually create the complexity that you see in a novel that you often don’t see in an hour drama.'”

What is a bombastic TV commercial to do?

For more on Auletta’s insights on the future of television, including how the networks are competing in the “Netflix Age,” watch a clip from Big Think’s interview:

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

10 books to check out from Jordan Peterson's 'Great Books' list

The Canadian professor has an extensive collection posted on his site.

Jordan Peterson with Carl Jung and the cover art of Jaak Panksepp's 'Affective Neuroscience' (Image: Chris Williamson/Getty Images/Big Think)
Personal Growth
  • Peterson's Great Books list features classics by Orwell, Jung, Huxley, and Dostoevsky.
  • Categories include literature, neuroscience, religion, and systems analysis.
  • Having recently left Patreon for "freedom of speech" reasons, Peterson is taking direct donations through Paypal (and Bitcoin).
Keep reading Show less

Radical theory says our universe sits on an inflating bubble in an extra dimension

Cosmologists propose a groundbreaking model of the universe using string theory.

Getty Images/Suvendu Giri
Surprising Science
  • A new paper uses string theory to propose a new model of the universe.
  • The researchers think our universe may be riding a bubble expanded by dark energy.
  • All matter in the universe may exist in strings that reach into another dimension.
Keep reading Show less

Should you invest in China's stock market? Know this one thing first.

Despite incredible economic growth, it is not necessarily an investor's paradise.

Videos
  • China's stock market is just 27 years old. It's economy has grown 30x over that time.
  • Imagine if you had invested early and gotten in on the ground floor.
  • Actually, you would have lost money. Here's how that's possible.