by Eric Paolini
I love Netflix. I have been gladly paying them for almost two years. Now that they are starting to produce their own programming I love them all the more. Especially since a new season of Arrested Development will be released on Netflix Instant in May. But also because their latest program, House of Cards, is phenomenal.
House of Cards is an American remake of a British show with some changes to fit an American audience. The show feels like a combination of an hour long HBO drama and a really long movie. In an interview with the incredible TV critic Alan Sepinwall, House of Cards creator Beau Willimon said they wrote the show without using the traditional TV model. It wasn't written where at the end of each episode there would be a cliffhanger enticing you to come back the following week. This is because Netflix released all thirteen episodes of the first season at once on February 1st. Because the show wasn't made with commercial breaks in mind scenes are allowed to run their course. The result is a less formulaic show that has an incredible flow throughout each episode.
In the same interview with Sepinwall, Willimon said that Netflix executives allowed them total creative control. They didn't ask to see the script or the dailies. What comes out of this is a truly authentic show. This is the show the creators wanted and I think that attributes to its success. (Along with the writing, acting, and directing which are all fantastic). Too much input ultimately ends with stale content that has been seen time and time before.
While I don't doubt this show would have been good had it been developed for HBO, part of what makes it special is the nontraditional aspects of it. Much like the show's character of Zoe Barnes (played by the incredible Kate Mara) success is found in new media. While I'm sure I'm not the first to make that connection, it is a nice touch. One of the best characters in the show represents the way the show was created.
Along with the new media similarities, Netflix captured the binge watching mentality many TV viewers have. I appreciated that I had the option of watching the episodes as I wanted to instead of week to week. The only downside is that the binge watching ability makes it tough to talk with other people who are watching. Did they go on an obsessive binge and watch every episode in two days like me?
With the success of House of Cards and the future success of Arrested Development (hopefully) I think this means more original Netflix programming. If the process and mindset behind House of Cards stays true for other program developments then I will love Netflix all the more.
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