It is an idea that covers almost every media or form on entertainment. The Alternative. It’s just how the human mind works. If there is something extremely popular and seems to be everywhere, there is an alternative that will make sure that people know it is something different and done a different way, and usually, they find an audience for it. For those who hated TV or it didn’t work out for them, there was Cable, For those who don’t like using Windows, There is Mac and a whole bunch of other systems to use. That kind of thing.
And for those fortunate enough to get into a creative field like Animation, it seems the new alternative is Netflix. Remember when Top Gear was a mess on British and then American TV and the hosts were fired/quit. What happened? They went to Netflix. All these “revival” shows that keep coming out to try to attract an older audience that isn’t going to sit there and actually watch the show? Netflix. They don’t have to appeal to advertisers like Television or even Cable have to do. Count one more wanting in on the new alternative. Matt Groening.
Even after all this time, Groening’s name isn’t the first that comes to mind on pretty much anything. Simply, he is the head creator and animator for shows like The Simpson’s and Futurama. Maybe those are names that mean something, maybe not. But his name is big to animated fans since the late 80’s. Despite the Simpson’s being more talked about as being old and out of ideas, and Futurama seems to bounce around cable channels now in a constant state of being canned or not, Matt debuted a new show and production stills, and it’s already announced for having a two year run on NetFlix. It’s is a medieval-themed show called Disenchantment.
And he may have the right idea. I’m not a huge expert on how Netflix runs its programming, but would he have to appeal to advertisers there? Probably not. Would he have to kowtow to Fox’s scheduling demands there? No. He’s seen his stuff play second fiddle to football and baseball to probably have had enough with FOX anyway. Besides, FOX is too busy getting WWE Wrestling on Thursday Night’s to probably even care anymore. Yes, Netflix may have a smaller audience than TV, but as a creator, he doesn’t have to deal with a lot of those pitfalls and with a 2 year deal already in front of him, he hopefully can put forth his all into Disenchantment.
Not to say that he can freeload off this either. If there is one thing I do know is that you still have to put in the effort to make the show watchable too. If no one is watching, then subscriptions aren’t going up either. Netflix seems to have their own pattern when to CANCEL shows too. Sure a 2-year deal is sweet, but you gotta still get people watching. Matt does know how to do that, but with the new medium of Netflix, will he be able to transfer to a new and possibly younger audience? Will he even want to after the two years are up?
Of course, it’s hard to answer these questions until the actual show is on “the air” (or whatever it means to be shown on Netflix). It may be as big as his other two creations, or it may flop and become a “lost” DVD collection. Even though he is an established creator and money maker, it’s still a relatively new way to tell it.
So for Matt, I wish him success, Disenchantment to be a hit, and hope this gives him some creative freedom that the generations after him are looking for.