How many network or cable television shows have you watched recently? Within the past month, it has been two shows, Shooter and The Blacklist. I haven’t watched television shows on their regularly scheduled nights for about two years, the last show being The Walking Dead Season 6, which I always watched with my brother and his wife. To me there is no longer “must watch television” aired on the network and cable television shows. In addition, the week-long break between episodes is daunting because I will forget key moments or main/sub-plotlines. I would rather binge watch content on Netflix or Amazon.
Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu (though I hate their commercials and refuse to pay more for none) have in the past few years changed the ballgame. The content created by these three will only get more expansive and consumed by more people. Growing up I always wanted anything I wrote to become a movie but as an adult in this age of streaming, I would rather my work become a series on Netflix or Amazon. Watching the deals Netflix and Amazon (and the money they are willing to spend) to pick up projects is amazing, they are not beholden to the almighty Nielsen rating and are willing to give experimental projects like The Man in the High Castle, House of Cards, and Amazon’s rumored Lord of the Rings television series.
Outside of loads of money, Netflix and Amazon appear to allow content creators to follow their storyline with minimal oversight or intervention. One of my favorite book series is The Expanse and when I started watching the television series by the same name, I was completely disappointed to learn one of the main characters in book four dies in the first season. I am aware sometimes changes are needed for example, translating a book from a first-person narrative is difficult in television and movies. There are other reasons like in The Man in the High Castle series, there is a resistance movement which is not featured in the book at all. However, based off what we know about resistance and insurgency movements now compared to when the book was written, adding a resistance movement makes complete sense.
There are some changes which make sense and others which are mind boggling but any author wants to see their work faithfully adapted. Writing and having what is written produced into first movies then television came around as a dominant force in the 1950s and 1960s, is a give and take game. There will always be authors who have the rights to their work sold and the story made into a movie or television show, and the story will be changed to fit the needs of the delivering medium. However, there has never been a better time to be an author. Netflix and Amazon have made themselves into forces to be reckoned with and ones which will not go away. In 2017, Netflix spent upwards of 6 billion dollars in acquiring and producing television shows. In 2018, that number increased to 7 billion dollars and will only grow from there.
Though there are a few series which are cancelled before completion Everything Begins with Z and Marco Polo come to mind, series come to end at a natural ending point, which offers maximum closure to the audience. I always imagine what Firefly could have become if it was not prematurely cancelled. Another odd example is The Expanse which like a few other shows has been cancelled by a network or cable channel and found life on a streaming service. Now if only the streaming services would pick-up Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe and offer a more concrete ending.
When it is all said and done, if my work is ever offered the silver screen adaption or network or cable series, I would politely decline it. Traditional television series are beholden to the almighty dollar which is primarily earned by key advertising demographics, and a risky show is unlikely to aired during primetime. Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu have shown less traditional shows like The Man in the High Castle, House of Cards, Handmaiden’s Tale, and the series of Marvel comic book heroes works. There is a show for everybody on the streaming services that caters to their tastes and there will only be more content to suit people’s expanding tastes.