FULLER HOUSE and BOJACK HORSEMAN brought to us by the same pioneering and innovative interweb video? How did it happen? Netflix, we hardly knew ye…know what we mean?
by Alyson Herman
You know what they say: if you can’t beat ’em, throw up your hands at their inexplicable popularity and turn ’em into your personal rhetorical punching bag.
Or at least that’s been the case with Fuller House, a revival so pointless, cynical, and predictably awful that many critics, including ours, have opted to make their precious viewing hours somewhat worthwhile by taking off the gloves and going all in. The show is “a porn parody without the porn.” It’s“painstakingly re-creating and celebrating a program that was, in its heyday, a compilation of some of pre-millennial TV’s loudest and most contrived tendencies.” It’s “a dopey sitcom, but you can watch it with your entire family without offending anything but your intelligence.” It is, in short, god-awful.
It’s also a far cry from how Netflix originally introduced itself as a home for semi-original programming. Way back in 2013, the service kicked off the current reboot craze with a fourth season of Arrested Development, the short-lived, oddball, single-cam sitcom that was as far from laugh-tracked, eight-season Full House as it was possible to get. The message was clear: we’re everything the network suits who cancelled Arrested in the first place aren’t. Where they could care less about innovation or quality, we value it. Where the network system failed creators, we can help them succeed.
That message carried over to Netflix’s first slate of bona fide originals. In fact, it mainly applied to them — the resurrection of Arrested was arguably an effective, efficient way to broadcast it in the most attention-getting way possible. Netflix was here to serve the same adventurous, highbrow audience as Showtime and HBO, largely because those audiences also tended to have the desire and disposable income to pay for viewing privileges. So it gave them what they wanted: a political soap opera with the star power of Kevin Spacey and the blessing of David Fincher; a women’s prison dramedy with the most radically diverse cast on TV; a dizzyingly ambitious sci-fi epic from two of Hollywood’s most divisive filmmakers….