Netflix’s biggest FLOPS: Here are the worst Netflix Originals
By now, everyone in the Western world must be familiar with the tour de force that is Netflix. The online streaming service is at the forefront of television’s biggest shake up in years, heading up a transition to video on demand that looks increasingly inevitable.
Not only has Netflix’s ‘watch what you want’ strategy and huge library of popular shows hooked subscribers, the service has also been keen to capitalise on the success of its platform by creating its own content. Many of these ‘Netflix Original Series’ have been a remarkable success. Shows that have never even aired on British television – like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards – are household names and office water cooler topics.
We hear a lot about Netflix’s many success stories, but their latest Ashton Kutcher-led comedy The Ranch reminded us of the few times they went terribly, terribly wrong. Here are five of the worst Netflix Originals:
1. Hemlock Grove
Netflix’s second original series after the highly-acclaimed House of Cards, Hemlock Grove effectively silenced the optimists who suggested Netflix might be on to something. However, the damning reviews from critics (it has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 27% rotten and a critic’s consensus of: “Hemlock Grove is an ugly, unpleasant affair that throws crazy ideas together without much forethought”) were not enough to prevent Netflix from inflicting three whole seasons upon us before bringing the murky mess of a series to a much-needed close. This series was a colossal waste of esteemed horror filmmaker Eli Roth’s time, but at least he probably made a bucketload.
The series synopsis for Between doesn’t get us off to a good start, to be honest: the residents of a small mid-western town called Pretty Lake find themselves under quarantine after everyone over the age of 21 is killed off by a deadly virus. Critics attacked the series for relying overly on soap-opera style conspiracy conventions, shockingly poor writing, and – above all else – being horribly boring. The Independent basically summed it up with the following: “What is it that the adults of Pretty Lake are dying from? It’s not excitement, that’s for sure.”
Flaked is one of Netflix’s newer offerings, although undoubtedly will not be a memorable one. It stars Arrested Development‘s Will Arnett as Chip and David Sullivan as Dennis, two middle-aged manchildren with no real jobs, intelligence or appeal to viewers. Critics have slammed the unfunny and exhausted ‘man-child’ persona, a complete lack of depth and a spiritless, unappealing tone to the series. The Guardian unleashed a damning review of the series, concluding: “It’s a middle-aged fantasy created by middle-aged entertainment executives who are foisting their insecurities on a public who would surely rather watch anything else.”
4. Marco Polo
With this historical adventure series, Netflix hoped to win much of the same incredibly profitable audience who devour episodes of shows like Game of Thrones. It was an unmitigated disaster – the series, about 13th century Venetian explorer Marco Polo’s adventures as a prisoner of China – is horribly offensive, hollower than the inside of a pumpkin on Halloween and – again – simply boring. Netflix spent a whopping $90 million on the series, and have already committed to a second season (though, like the show itself, there seems no urgency in following through with this commitment). Some have criticised its copying of Game of Thrones‘ worst traits (violence and sexism) with an addition of racism, while missing entirely the reasons why Thrones is so great: story, characters and elaborate world-building.
5. The Ranch
We had honest-to-God high hopes for this new Netflix comedy, which first became available on April Fools Day (and those who watched it certainly did feel fooled). Reuniting That 70s Show stars Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson plus adding the production team behind Two and a Half Men, there didn’t seem like much reason one wouldn’t be able to at least get a couple of laughs out of this set up. However, good luck finding the humour in this generic, unoriginal sitcom about a bunch of unfunny and one-note characters on a Colorado farm. To add insult to injury, there’s even a canned laughter track – informing viewers exactly which moments are supposed to be hilarious. I honestly wouldn’t have known.