Stop telling me what media I “need to watch”

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Editor-in-Chief

Stop telling me that I “need to watch” whatever Netflix show you just watched. I’m not going to watch it.

I did not watch Squid Game (I understand that capitalism is bad). I did not watch Wednesday (in High School I was involved in a production of The Addams Family musical and so I get the gist). I did not watch Stranger Things after the first season (I had seen enough). I did not watch Blockbuster (I have self-respect). I did not watch Ozark (I have seen Breaking Bad). I did not watch the live-action Cowboy Bebop (come on).

This doesn’t just apply to Netflix shows though. HBO has made dozens of shows in recent memory that people have insisted I “need to watch” but I did not watch and am just fine.

I did not watch The White Lotus (I don’t care for resorts). I did not watch Perry Mason (the only detective that I need in my life is Benoit Blanc). I did not watch Euphoria (while I believe the showrunner’s intentions to be in good faith, I feel as though the show has inadvertently glamorized illicit drug use to a generation of teenagers and younger who have unrestricted access to programming for adults, and lack the media literacy to understand that the show is a cautionary tale… likewise, because the show is centered around high schoolers, it is impossible to deny that the show is going to be popular amongst high schoolers). I did not watch Succession (I understand that capitalism is bad).

But to suggest that Netflix and HBO are the only shows people say I “need to watch” would be a bad suggestion, just like many of the shows people have suggested that I “need to watch.”

I did not watch Halo (I have played the video games). I did not watch How I Met Your Father (why did they make that). I did not watch Tales of the Walking Dead (ugh). I did not watch Smiling Friends (I did not care for the art style). I did not watch Mr. Robot (I understand that capitalism is bad). I did not watch Andor (I actually have been meaning to and will get around to it eventually).

For all of those shows, people insisted to me that I “need to watch it.” I did not watch it. I am fine. If you want to recommend a show to me, that’s fine, but don’t insist that my life will be changed dramatically by watching it. The television medium, especially in the age of streaming, is not exactly mind-blowing. In fact, most shows are incredibly formulaic.

Every streaming show is either a reboot of an old property, a spin-off, or a spiritual sequel. It runs for a weirdly specific number of episodes, either six, eight, ten, or thirteen. Each episode ends on a cliffhanger, many of which go nowhere or are total misdirects. Then, the finale ends on a big cliffhanger, typically completely out of nowhere, and will either be resolved in a mediocre second season that the network bosses have hijacked even more creative control of, or the show will be canceled.

In the post-cable (admit it, we’re getting to be post-cable), pro-streaming society we now live in, there are just too many television shows being made. Every network is burning money to try to produce enough content to sell their streaming service when the reality is that we do not need this many streaming services. Likewise, we don’t need shows to be content… we need shows to be good.

That doesn’t just mean passable, watchable, entertainment. That means that your show should actually have an artistic backbone with interesting themes and a compelling story. Stop trying to make a show that already exists, and make something that’s good. That’s what I need to watch.