Those of us who were in our teen years in 2016 will remember it well. Netflix, as the kids say, ‘popped off’. The selection was incredible. The teen market was booming. Both original shows and cult favourites were displayed like a pick n mix counter.
Between 2016-2020 Netflix released its own line of shows including ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’, ‘Atypical’, and the now infamous ‘Stranger Things’. Alongside these originals, Netflix (UK) added ‘Riverdale’, ‘The Vampire Diaries’, and ‘Teen Wolf’.
Now, clearing up the rather massive elephant in the room, even in the few mentioned, there is an obvious range of quality – from great, to good, to mediocre, to bad, to hey-is-this-even-coherent-why-am-I-spending-time-on-this? But, boy, that’s a whole other article.
Towards the latter half of our timeline, an original series was released, this being ‘The Society’ (May 2019). It was a 10 episode series following a group of teenagers as they are thrust into a modern Lord of the Flies plot.
It was a simple enough concept, executed well, and it stood out as one of the better teen shows Netflix pumped out into it’s now highly saturated market. The plot was fairly basic yet the characters were believable and the drama was compelling, especially in comparison to the more subpar schlock that had been churned out – looking at you, ‘The Order’.
Now ‘The Society’ is hardly gourmet TV in the grand scheme of things, but it was very well produced, well acted – largely by a group of unknown actors – and most of the episodes fall within the 7-8/10 rating on IMDB. ‘The Society’ achieved exactly what it wanted to and pleased the audience it was aiming for. Many of us probably remember watching and discussing this show, bashing Henry for being something that isn’t appropriate to say in this article, loving or hating Allie, getting frustrated with those vying for power, being on the edge of our seats with PumpkinPieGate, hoping Campbell would get what was coming to him. The point is, this was a good show sailing strongly in the rough sea of the Teen TV market.
But then, it got cancelled.
The internet blew up. There were articles and videos alike, pondering exactly what had gone wrong. Netflix’s statement explained that the cancellation was due to the Coronavirus. This update upset many fans of the show and the disappointment furthered with the cancellation of the equally adored, quirky, supernatural, ‘Carrie’-esque, teen show, ‘I am Not Okay With This’.
Obviously, the reason for cancellation is not up for question here. What is interesting, however, is to discuss the future of Netflix through the lens of ‘The Society’ being cancelled. The class of 2020 teen shows have clearly graduated, and Netflix is too, moving on.
The trend seems to be veering away from the 10-12 episode teen drama that almost perfectly lends itself to any genre, with favourites being supernatural and coming of age/slice-of-life. The shows that we devoured in a day, maybe two days if you were the type to savour it. The oversaturation of the market has definitely contributed to this, as many viewers do become bored with shows and ratings drop as the seasons progress.
The once-popular teen show ‘Riverdale’ fell victim to this, with its first season gaining an impressive audience score of 79% but its sixth season merely scraping a 40% audience rating. I mean can you blame them, most of us stopped watching after seasons three and four if you still had some childlike hope left.
It seems that Netflix has lost the secret teen formula, the recipe has been lent to a petulant child who threw it on the barbeque in protest. The new class of Netflix’s original teen shows are insufferable, and not in a good way. It’s not even ‘good trash’ anymore, it’s simply unwatchable.
However! In the midst of this chaos, Netflix releases its most successful series ever. Globally renoud, ‘Squid Game’ took the world by storm and it all became clear. From seemingly nowhere, this Korean horror show dropped, and wow. This was an incredible show that no one could have predicted from Netflix, it was well produced, terrifying and appealed to all of us. One thing became clear here, Netflix had definitely moved away from the teen drama.
Netflix’s new age of teen shows are bad because they don’t care about them anymore. ‘Ginny and Georgia’ wasn’t ever supposed to be the next big thing because it clearly doesn’t fit the new formula. In this age of TikTok-YouTube-Brain-Amalgamation-Ahhhhh, shows need to be able to ‘blow up’ across multiple platforms. They can’t simply be a nice little teen drama packaged into the latest trend because that no longer dominates the internet as it once did.
In fact, the origins of this trend can be seen way back with ‘Stranger Things’, even. The show capitalised on the 1980s resurgence and had the internet on tenterhooks, to the show’s detriment! In the current age, Netflix is simply attempting to keep up with trends. They cannot simply scrap the teen drama, though, as they need to wean audiences off it, gradually making the shows worse and worse until many give up and find a new show. Or, they use existing material – which may already be trending – to create new shows, like 2021’s ‘Shadow and Bone’, a YA fantasy show based on the extremely popular, now Tik Tok famous, books by Leigh Bardugo.
That’s one brief idea of where Netflix might be heading.
And the cancellation of ‘The Society’ is all the more disappointing for it.