Netflix has proven itself to be the next great place for entertainment. Whether through intense dramas such as House of Cards or smart yet poignant “comedies” such as Orange is the New Black (I say “comedy” because the Emmy Awards used to classify Orange is the New Black as such), Netflix’s original content has shaped the future of online television. Amazon has followed suit with recent Golden Globe winner Transparent, the story of a father coming out to his children as a transgender woman. However, despite original content, online streaming sites have quickly become the place for network successes and failures.
Community is a wonderful show with an intense cult following. It was paired with The Office, 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation on NBC Comedy Thursdays for most of its run. Community remained “the little show that could” and only survived due to a small but strong fan base. In fact, NBC kept trying to get rid of Community by canceling the show and providing a reboot in 2013; however, Yahoo finally picked up the show after an intense #SeasonSix social media campaign started by the show’s actors and fans in support of a final sixth season.
Netflix’s newest show is Tina Fey and 30 Rock producer Robert Carlock’s latest brilliant creation: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is about an overly optimistic, naive survivor of an underground cult in Indiana who tries to start a new life in New York City. Starring Ellie Kemper, best known as Erin from The Office, Titus Burgess, “Dfwan” from 30 Rock, and the incomparable Jane Krakowski, better known as Jenna Maroney from 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt combines Fey’s signature dry, topical humor with lots of heart and, of course, unique and memorable characters.
It is hard to believe that NBC passed up on another sensational Fey creation, which raises the question, “does network television cater to a different audience than it used to?” Based on NBC’s ratings, what most people want to watch are dramas and reality/competition shows such as The Blacklist or The Voice. The audience that wants to watch these quirky, eccentric, complex shows can be found on streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Yahoo.
Shows like Transparent and Kimmy Schmidt push the boundaries by discussing more sensitive subject matter. By having these shows online, show creators can be more lenient in their use of language as well as nudity, an example being Orange is the New Black.
Network television ratings show that more people watch simpler comedies such as The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. This is not to say that these shows are not funny, they are just filmed and written in a different style called “multi-camera.” Multi-camera shows are thirty minute sitcoms that are filmed in front of a live studio audience and utilize a laugh track. Shows like 30 Rock, The Office and Parks and Recreation utilize a “single camera,” meaning that they are filmed in the style of a movie. No one style is better than another. Television creators just have the option to cater to different types of audiences.
With the exception of gems such as Modern Family and The Mindy Project, network television consists mainly of crime-filled dramatic thrillers, staged reality shows and talent competitions. I am very eager to embark into this new age of television, along with Kimmy Schmidt, and explore the creativity that is to come.