armchair cultural observation since 1995

An ‘Arrested Development’ Breakthrough for Netflix

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“Television, for all that it’s developed beyond an episodic structure to tell long-arc narratives, is still a fundamentally linear storytelling mechanism. You may be able to marathon The Sopranos just fine, but you can’t shuffle up the order of episodes and have things make sense. A willingness to treat episodes like a series of interlinked short films that can be watched in multiple orders is something Netflix can do particularly because of its strategy of releasing all of the episodes of its shows at once, and because it doesn’t have to build and retain viewers episode to episode the way a network does to keep a reliable stream of advertising revenue flowing. And it means that Netflix could position itself as much better-suited than networks of any type to adapt not-strictly linear narratives with multiple perspectives. Before yesterday, my dream scenarios for Jennifer Egan’s novel A Visit From The Goon Squad involved the HBO adaptation, and for World War Z involved a series of stand-alone movies or mini-series episodes. Now, I’m excitedly thinking about what they might look like as Netflix series, a thought that has literally never occurred to me about any material before.”

Alyssa Rosenberg on the latest news about Arrested Development‘s triumphant return to Netflix this May

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