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Netflix at the Nexus

Content, Practice, and Production in the Age of Streaming Television

Edited By Theo Plothe and Amber M. Buck

Netflix’s meteoric rise as an online content provider has been well documented and much debated in the popular press and in academic circles as an industry disrupter, while also blamed for ending TV’s "Golden Age." For academic researchers, Netflix exists at the nexus of multiple fields: internet research, information studies, media studies, and television and has an impact on the creation of culture and how individuals relate to the media they consume. Netflix at the Nexus examines Netflix’s broad impact on technology and television from multiple perspectives, including the interface, the content, and user experiences. Chapters by leading international scholars in television and internet studies provide a transnational perspective on Netflix’s changing role in the media landscape. As a whole, this collection provides a comprehensive consideration of the impact of streaming television.

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Chapter 6. At the Fringes of TV: Liminality and Privilege in Netflix’s Original Scripted Dramedy Series (Jessica Ford)


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Liminality and Privilege in Netflix’s Original Scripted Dramedy Series

Jessica Ford

Netflix has produced and distributed an extraordinary amount of original content since 2012, including documentaries, variety series, and feature films. However, it is their original scripted television series that have attracted the most critical attention. Netflix original series are subjected to considerable scrutiny from of popular culture criticism sites, including Vulture, The A.V. Club, and Slate. In 2015, Vulture produced a “definitive list” that evaluated and ranked all of Netflix’s original series available at that moment (Lyons, 2015). Considerable digital column inches have been dedicated to the micro-analysis and critique of Netflix’s most “binge-able” series, including House of Cards (2013–2018), Orange Is the New Black (2013–2019), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015–2019), Stranger Things (2016-present), and 13 Reasons Why (2017-present).

As of 2018, Netflix produces and distributes far more original scripted content than other subscription video-on-demand platforms, including Amazon and Hulu. Despite this, Netflix Originals still only makes up a small percentage of Netflix’s expansive catalogue both in the US and internationally (Wayne, 2017, p. 6). As a result, the overwhelming majority of content distributed by Netflix is produced and initially distributed via other platforms and networks. Nevertheless, Netflix Originals shape and influence Netflix’s ← 97 | 98 → brand identity more than the other content they distribute. Netflix is still an anomaly in the US and global television landscape in scale,...

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