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The world is spinning out of control and there's absolutely nothing to watch

  • 04 December 2023
As the world continues spiralling into total chaos, there remains, shockingly, absolutely nothing to watch on any streaming service. Last night I stared blankly at the Netflix home screen, remote in hand, scrolling endlessly. Netflix, Stan, Binge, Prime, Paramount, Disney+ – you name it. And I’m not talking about a lack of options – there’s enough content to drown in, while, ironically, leaving us parched. I know how Coleridge’s mariner must have felt.

This dearth of genuinely engaging content comes at a time when a bit of escapism would be welcome: firstly, there’s the housing crisis, the skyrocketing cost of living, social cohesion is in freefall, then regional conflict flares up in Europe and the Middle East and it looks like we’re teetering on the brink of WW3 while the planet is roasting itself. And now this. I’ve scrolled through every genre, and there’s just nothing. It’s funny, even though we can summon almost any show or movie with the flick of a finger, we still find ourselves aimlessly wandering through digital badlands, desperately seeking something  – anything – that could provide a momentary escape from the relentless drumbeat of global annihilation from the threats hiding just over the next hill.

It is I suspect, a problem that has been simmering under the surface. Whether we’re now seeing the effects of the WGA or SAG-AFTRA strikes or the presence of ChatGPT in writers’ rooms, somehow we’re stuck with reboots, true crime docs and reruns of Castle. Has anyone seen that? If you can stomach the cheese, it's OK.

And all this is not for want of trying. Take last night’s foray through a gallery of might-have-beens and might-yet-bes: Apple TV briefly tantalized with Morning Wars and some Godzilla escapade – both, no doubt, brimming with potential. Then there’s Netflix, dangling Bodies and Fall of the House of Usher, alongside something involving David Beckham, each teasing the possibility of brilliance. Disney+ was less alluring, flaunting its latest Star Wars and Marvel fare alongside the charming Only Murders in the Building. And let’s not overlook Prime, with testosterone-heavy offerings Reacher, or The Terminal List. There’s even talk of resurrecting LA Law and Quantum Leap. But here’s the rub: often, just one episode is quite enough to sate or, more commonly, to sour. If you’re anything like me, as the evening wanes, the screen often remains as blank as your resolve.


'Perhaps this void in the streaming landscape is a reminder, albeit a gentle one, that life is an exercise