Sunday, November 25, 2018

Amazon Prime / Netflix mash-ups

We watched some of Outlander, where a woman from 1945 is magically transported back to 18th century Scotland via a circle of stones. It reminded me of the stone monolith in the shed in The Sinner, season two, where the boy, Julian, gets taken to a detention centre, which could have been, but wasn’t, the same one in Orange Is the New Black. The Sinner also has Julian having similar nightmares, actually when he was awake and couldn’t move with a person in a hooded cloak coming towards him (actually not a nightmare at all), to Nell in The Haunting on Hill House, who also had waking nightmares and couldn’t move and had the Bent-Neck Lady walking towards her (also not a nightmare). In other words, they're all blending into one.

What unites them all – aside from characters, plot and locations all morphing into one* – and many other shows on Neflix and Amazon Prime, is the ability to have lashings of sex and violence (and, apparently, worst of all, smoking: Stranger Things has been the biggest culprit), elements most traditional mainstream TV, such as the BBC, ITV or Fox, isn't allowed. Streaming websites don't need to comply to FCC regulations, something they make full use of, often at the expense of acting and plot.

Sex is particular is actually quite refreshing to see – we've become so accustomed to violence in the media, from films to video games, but with sex and nudity we're rather prudish. But it's swearing, according to a 2016 Ofcom report, that offends British viewers most: 42% in their survey said they found bad language most offensive on TV.

I don't mind a bit of sex, violence, swearing and smoking, but the night-long male rape scene in a prison in Outlander went a bit too far.

*What they also all have in common is an inability to tell a story from start to finish. I always thought when this happened, they had a straightforward script then realised it was pretty boring being so linear, so decided to mix it up in the editing. Whatever, every single Netflix or Prime series we’ve seen mixes up the past (i.e. flashbacks) and present to the point that every five minutes there's a flashback or forward. Of course filmmakers from Welles, Roeg and Godard – "A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order" – have been doing similar for years but in a TV series I find it rather disruptive and confusing.

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