Am I Wrong To Hold Streaming Services To A Higher Standard?

I’ve always kind of held Netflix to a high standard when it comes to TV show/movie quality. Of course, it’s not just Netflix. I hold other streaming services like Amazon Prime and Crave to the same standard. The problem is that I feel like my standards are not being met in general. This post is going to mention Netflix the most because a) I use it, b) it’s the most popular, and c) it was one of the first mainstream streaming services so it largely paved the way. I also want to disclaim that this is about the original content produced only.

Recently, a friend and I both watched a Netflix show, and I disliked it so much that I ranted a bit about how disappointed I was in Netflix, which prompted this question from my friend: why do I have these standards? I’ve touched on this topic before, but I wanted to expand on it and see what y’all think. I’m so serious about this topic, I’m about to use subheaders. I rarely use subheaders in posts.

hear me out gif.

No advertisers

In my mind, since streaming services don’t have to appeal and cater to advertisers the way networks heavily do, they should be able to be more creative and bold with their content. I’m not saying I want edgier jokes or more gratuitous sex, I just want them to be able to really hone in on what the viewers want without worrying as much (or even at all?) about money and reputation and politics and content ratings.

Their own timeline

And since streaming services don’t need to follow the typical yearly setup of fall premieres in September and midseason finales in December and summer shows in May, they should have the time to ensure their content is as good as it can be. And yet, I’m just not finding that it is. Forced acting beyond pilots, bad jokes, weak plots…the only thing I haven’t noticed as being too bad have been special effects.

Specific stats

Furthermore, these platforms have their own active viewing stats. They are able to see what people actively like, what genres are actively being consumed, and then should cater more to that. Are people watching period pieces? Great. Make some really good period pieces, then. Impress the people who have a taste for that and are actively watching that on your platform. See, network TV has to use Nielsen ratings, and it’s not a perfect system, because they only use a sample population to represent the whole country and can’t accurately account for things like online streaming or viewing from an app. Though Nielsen has been able to track some Netflix shows and shows on other platforms, they don’t have access to it all. But that’s not the point; the point is that these platforms have more access to stats and viewing habits than networks seem to, yet they don’t necessarily act like it except when they want to make funny tweets.

netflix stats tweet.

Concerning cancellations

I also expect them to treat customers better. These are literal paying customers paying specifically for your content, and yet I find that Netflix especially cancels shows that are fan favourites. There’s apparently a slew of legal and financial reasons behind some of the decisions, and I do understand that Netflix is a business, but when so many shows are left without closure and can’t be picked up by other networks/platforms, it’s rude and weird. If they want to keep shows under four seasons because it’s cheaper for them, then that’s fine. Make that clear to the showrunners and viewers. Force them to wrap up their stories. Fans want that. Fans don’t want to keep watching unfinished business.

The non-original content

As I said, everything above was about the original content, but it’s relevant to consider the non-original stuff too in the larger discussion. These streaming services started as a place to house old, off the air shows/movies for fans to binge without buying DVDs. Only now network shows are being split up between a bunch of different services, and even then, it’s not a worldwide thing. I’d love to know if Netflix and the like are taking money they could have used to get streaming rights and instead using it to create original content. Are streaming services destined to end up looking like Apple’s where it’s only original content? It’s something to consider as I’m sure there a lot of people who use streaming services primarily to watch network content and theatrical movies.

don't forget who you are gif.

I realize that perhaps I’m being too unfair to these services. It’s impossible for everything they make to be perfect. I realize that there’s a chance that I’m too quick to speak on negatives, and it’s likely because I’m a little annoyed at the streaming-centric world that we’re now living in and the fact that these streaming shows clean up at the Emmys now. There is almost definitely a degree of pettiness at play here, but also, everything I’ve outlined here isn’t incorrect.

So tell me, am I wrong to have these standards? Or am I right but just shouldn’t say it? I’ve watched and enjoyed a lot of streaming shows on a variety of platforms, so I know there is good stuff out there and I look forward to watching more, but this is just about the general quality. Personally, I think the regular network shows I watch on cable are better in a lot of ways to streaming service shows. But who knows; maybe they have triple the budgets.

I’d love to know what you think.

That’s all for now!

 

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Here’s Me Blabbing About Marvel

There are no Endgame spoilers here.

I had a whole different post written and ready to go today, but then I saw Avengers: Endgame and I just needed to talk about Marvel. Years ago I kind of explained how I got into Marvel, but since then, my love for it has only grown.

I wasn’t a fan of superhero things when Iron Man came out, but I am so, so glad that I was here to see the end of the Avengers story in theaters with dozens of other huge fans. It’s something that I’ll be bragging about to kids in the future, the same way people who grew up in the 80’s are able to do with the original Star Wars movies.

I think that's cool gif.

And obviously Marvel isn’t done. As much as I’m excited for the next Spider-Man and the next seasons of Agents Of SHIELD, I do kind of wish that the MCU would end on this high note. Give us a chance to breathe and take it in. Like with every successful franchise, I worry about what’s to come and how they can ruin it by pumping out more and more. Even the TV shows that already exist have seen some issues with quality. Runaways, The Punisher, Jessica Jones: they’re all shows that had great first seasons and then disappointing second ones. I can only guess what the multitude of Disney+ shows will be like.

But I’m not here to fret about the future, I am here to commend Marvel for what they’ve done. They singlehandedly brought on this powerhouse era of superheroes. Obviously on DC’s side Smallville ran (before Iron Man came out) so Arrow could walk, but I don’t know if the Arrowverse as it is today would exist without Marvel. Marvel got people of all ages into superheroes and fights and aliens and introduced a new generation to the heroes that others grew up with on pages.

I never read comics and I don’t really regret that (especially because it’s not like someone handed me comics as a kid and I turned them away), but I think it is cool to talk to people who are comic readers and hear them theorize based on their knowledge of that. Thought it’s not necessary to enjoy the MCU, and that’s cool! I watched and very much enjoyed The Avengers with barely any knowledge. I kind of knew who Iron Man and the Hulk were. That’s it.

I look to DC’s movies and where they fail, and it’s so interesting to see them try things Marvel has (solo movies, humorous movies, ensemble movies, darker movies) and consistently fail, whereas when it came to movies, Marvel succeeded again and again and again. Sure, you can pick apart things in all the movies and point out flaws, but that does change the fact that Marvel figured out how to make 22 solid movies (21 if you exclude that old Hulk one) and create a world where people are dying for more. I know someone in America who attended a 52 hour Marvel movie marathon this week leading up to Endgame. Name one other franchise where people are doing that. Marvel managed to always find the perfect secret formulas to make the movies good. Some better than others, but they were all good.

Brilliant gif.

When Endgame ended, I sat in the theater watching the credits and just thinking about the fact that it’s over, and I couldn’t believe it. Even now as I write this, a few hours later and tired as heck, it feels like a dream. But a good one. Did I cry? Yeah. But I hold things that make me cry in high regard because it means they did their job well. I also laughed and gasped and had all the emotions.

Marvel did that. They did a lot for fans, and I am grateful. Even if they go on to sabotage themselves by pumping out content that people get tired of, their success with the MCU here is something that I don’t think can be replicated.

Anyway. I don’t really have a point here, I just had a lot of emotions and wanted to give Marvel the respect they deserve. Sometimes a girl just has to explode on her blog, a little.

I love Marvel.

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A Spoilery Brain Dump About ‘Mamma Mia 2’ Because I Have Feelings And Didn’t Want To Bother Twitter

Are y’all ready for this? I don’t blog about movies much anymore because there are so many review sites that say it all better and faster than I do, but I am bursting at the seams with Mamma Mia 2 thoughts after seeing it, so here we are.

  • Let me start by saying that Mamma Mia is my favourite musical. I’ve seen it on stage twice and on screen upwards of ten times. So it’s special, and for that reason, I was both excited and terrified for Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again.
  • Overall, I thought this sequel/prequel was good! It was fun and emotional and cute and did a good job telling more of the story.
  • Sure, there were parts that were a little cheesy, but they weren’t too weird, and if any movie’s sequel can do cheese well, it’s Mamma Mia‘s.
    Image result for mamma mia 2 young donna
  • I’m glad they mixed in new songs, old songs, and Mamma Mia stage songs that the first movie didn’t use. It was a good mix, and the old songs were arranged differently so they, for the most part, didn’t feel like the same songs again.
  • But why wasn’t ‘Under Attack’ used????? It’s such a good song and I am sad it got passed over yet again.
  • Either way, I’ll be listening to this soundtrack on repeat at work tomorrow, and I can’t wait.
  • But opening with a song about kissing a teacher was….a bit weird. Was anyone else a little weirded out?
  • I’m glad they told us right away what’s up with Donna. The trailer hinted at death, but we weren’t sure, and I really wouldn’t have wanted to spend the whole movie guessing.
  • But part of me wants to know how she died while the other part of me is very content not knowing.
  • The casting for the young versions of the characters was SO GOOD. Especially for the ladies.
  • But are you seriously telling me that Donna, Rosie, and Tanya didn’t change their hairstyles in 30 years?
  • Tanya kept teasing Rosie for crying every time someone mentioned Donna but guess what? I was doing the same thing…
  • I SOBBED during that last song. Most of the theater did too. Haven’t had a good cry like that in a while.
  • Obviously, I knew Meryl Streep would show up eventually, but I think the way they did it, at the end and at such a special moment, was well done. But I also wanted more Meryl. I always want more Meryl.
  • The theater was filled with moms and daughters, which was so cute. I also went with my mom, my best friend, and my best friend’s mom.
  • The movie was funny! I got some good laughs, and the humor didn’t consume the movie. It was on par with the first movie, I think.
    Image result for mamma mia 2 young donna
  • Cher…..yikes. Her singing was alright, but her acting was not good, and she really shouldn’t have gotten such a focus at the end of the movie. I don’t care about her.
  • Sophie and Sky are the underrated OTP
  • The movie did a pretty good job paralleling Donna’s life with Sophie’s, but there were times where I kind of wished the movie just stuck with one of them.
  • I didn’t hate Pierce Brosnan’s singing in Mamma Mia, but I’m glad they kept his singing in Here We Go Again to a minimum. That being said, I’m also glad they didn’t autotune him. I think it’d be weirder if he suddenly had a wonderful voice.
  • I like how that old lady, Sophia, was introduced and played a big role. Her existence was such a throwaway line in the first movie, so it was cool to meet her and see her importance to Donna.
  • I love every character very much.
  • Okay, so I know Donna had to sleep with the three guys because that’s the whole point so we knew it was coming, but I don’t think it was written well. There wasn’t a lot of chemistry and because it was all so sudden, we didn’t get a chance to enjoy any of them as a character.
  • Plus, the set up for the hookups were so awkward. Harry straight up asked if she’d sleep with him, and when she said no, he said he was a virgin, sang a song, and next thing you know, they were in bed together. Bill basically did the same only they parted before anything could happen. When he shows up again, he’s an immediate rebound, and even then it’s weird because she was trying to hint that she wanted to sleep with him while saying she didn’t. And then with Sam, he helped her calm a horse and then she basically asked him to live with her on the island she JUST got to. All I’m saying here is I think all three relationships were poorly written and needed a lot more attraction and suaveness to make me believe.
  • I wish the grown versions of Harry, Bill, and Sam had a bigger role. Harry and Bill just kind of showed up at the end.
  • But it was so cute seeing Sophie and Sam together, dealing with their loss and looking forward.
  • Did anyone else find young Donna a little entitled? Like, she saw Bill with his boat and was like “take me where I need to go,” and there wasn’t really a sense of gratitude when he did.
  • That bit with Harry tying himself up was odd. I didn’t get it.
  • What did Sophie and Sky name their son? I need to know.
  • When Harry and Bill were doing that Titanic thing….my heart grew like four sizes.
  • I loved seeing Sophie be part of the Dynamos.
    Image result for mamma mia 2 sophie tanya
  • Small plot hole: didn’t Donna steal Harry’s guitar? Where was the Headbanger backstory?
  • The movie had some great dance numbers, but unfortunately, nothing can beat all the guys in bathing suits dancing in flippers during ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’
  • Where were Sophie’s friends during all this? Or that guy who was hitting in Tanya?
  • Was Mamma Mia 2 as good as Mamma Mia? No. Sequels rarely are, and in this specific case, it’d be impossible to match that level of pure iconicity served to us in 2008.
  • This sequel didn’t ruin the first movie, but it’s a fun addition to the story.
  • Honestly, leaving the theater satisfied and happy was priceless.
  • Go watch Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again but bring tissues and enjoy every cheesy, entertaining, musical second.

So those are most of my thoughts. A few more will almost definitely come to me later on (and maybe I’ll bother Twitter with those then), but the above sums up my movie-going experience and post-viewing thoughts. If you’ve seen the movie, please talk to me about it. If you haven’t, why did you read this post? Go watch it now.

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High School Clichés In Movies

Lately I’ve been obsessively listening to the Broadway Mean Girls soundtrack (it’s good stuff, y’all–listen to it here), and there’s one song called ‘Where Do You Belong’ that isn’t even in my top five songs of the show, but I’ve had it stuck in my head a lot. It’s a really showtune-y song and it’s really fun, but the reason I’m talking about it is because it’s all about finding and sticking with your clique in high school. If you’ve seen the Mean Girls movie, you’d know that it heavily relied on the concept of high school clichés and cliques.

Mean Girls isn’t the only movie to feature this. If you’ve seen any high school-set piece of media, you’d know what I’m talking about. High schools in America all apparently have these popularity hierarchies with football players, cheerleaders, and mean girls at the top and band geeks or nerds at the bottom with everyone else living precariously in the middle, afraid to disrupt the order.

Stick to the status quo gif
High School Musical had a whole song about it!

And I say “America” because I am Canadian and this high school set up is so weird to me. My high school wasn’t like that at all. I mean, we didn’t have football players or cheerleaders, but we did have more well-known kids (I wouldn’t say ‘popular’) and kids who played Yu-gi-oh before class and musical theater kids. But there was no set hierarchy that dictated the way we behaved. There was no pronounced bullying. I’m not saying we were all BFFs with each other, but there were no clear cliques. We were just kind of friends with who we wanted to be friends with. That’s why I’ve never really identified with high schools portrayed in media because they all seemed so hellish and unnecessary.

Are American high schools really like the way they seem in movies and TV? Do football players really run the show? Do the hallways really part when popular kids stroll through? I’ve considered that perhaps my high school was just an anomaly and other Canadian schools may align with the media, especially given that I went to a Catholic school in a largely middle-class town, so I asked around. Overall, people said that there were popular kids (often athletes) and some mild bullying, but nothing strongly resembling the movies. To be fair, I only asked like ten people, and I think they all went to school in the same province as I did, so I know it’s not concrete data, but still. I also asked a couple of American internet friends, and while they said their high schools were a bit more clichéd, it still wasn’t as dramatic.

So, now the questions remain: are there high schools where people are labeled and forced into hierarchical cliques and football players are local celebrities? And if not, why does movie after movie perpetuate this idea? What’s fun or smart about portraying a wildly unrealistic setting? Isn’t the point of high school-set media to make it relatable to everyone because we all went to high school?

I don't get it gif

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so let me know what country you went to high school in and what that experience was/is like.

 

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What Makes A Good Remake (Or Adaptation)?

In this age of remakes and reboots, it’s kind of interesting to see which ones fail and succeed and why. If they all failed, then I’d think Hollywood would let up on them, but we’re several years into this trend, and it shows no signs of stopping, so something must be going right.

I used to think it was just that a lot of these reboots and remakes invoked a sense of nostalgia in viewers, and while I think that’s still true, I’m now also seeing all these remakes and reboots and adaptations as a chance to improve on the content. At least I hope that’s what these creators are trying to do. I think it’s the key.

DJ Khalid saying "major key"

Take Legally Blonde, for example. Yes, the movie was amazing and iconic and unmatched, but the musical is really great too, and I think it’s for two reasons. One, amazing music, a key element of any musical. Two, they built up Emmett’s character so he had more of a role and therefore the relationship between him and Elle was “so much better” (hehe). They made the material stronger by going out of their way to improve on the characters. In the same way that just making a remake live-action doesn’t immediately make it better (eg. Cinderella in 2015) simply adding music isn’t always enough. Take the Elf musical. That was another amazing and iconic movie but nothing was changed in the musical, so I found it kind of boring. Sure some adaptations can thrive with little to no changes (the Waitress musical, for example) but personally, I find myself really looking for improvements when I consume remakes/reboots.

Right now, the remake of Jumanji is in theaters and making a killing at the BO. What was changed in this version? New characters are sucked into a video game rather than a board game. I personally haven’t seen this new version, but I like this idea as it’s more modern and understandable, and clearly this concept and the production value seems to be good enough. Another example of a significant and overall accepted improvement is The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Taking Elizabeth Bennet’s story and opinions and presenting them through the personal vlog format is genius and modern. Pemberley Digital, for all their flaws, was on to something wonderful. Spider-Man: Homecoming and Fargo are other examples of remakes that succeeded because they took what was great about the original and improved upon them. They aren’t just straight  regurgitations of old stuff.

But then there’s the new Heathers TV show coming this spring, and it seems doomed. The Heathers movie isn’t a favourite of mine, nor is the musical (though the musical did have some dope songs and a slight added level of humour!), but as the internet is pointing out, putting minority characters in things doesn’t always improve it, especially not when it goes against the point of the story. There’ll apparently be a minority spin on the upcoming Party Of Five remake too, so we’ll have to see if that’ll fare better. At least that one makes sense. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that the improvements and changes have to make sense and work with the material. Is something is better than nothing? Not always. Usually, but not always.

The Heathers casts from 2018 and the original movie

As more and more remakes and reboots and adaptations are announced (daily, it seems), I just hope that society eventually stops just accepting whatever is thrown at us. There’s an American Idol reboot coming to ABC this spring and I’m really hoping it’ll bring something new to the table that the Fox version did not. I’m hoping that the upcoming Mary Poppins movie surprises us. I’m hoping that if Hollywood is insisting on giving us all these reboots and remakes and adaptations that they’re done well and they use the chance to really entertain us.

What are your thoughts on the subject? What’s one remake/adaptation that you enjoyed or hated?

 

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