The idea of binging shows and the culture around streaming consumption has become harder to understand. They spread as more people come out to speak their hearts and minds in written, spoken or visually recorded means. Streaming platforms like Netflix, YouTube Premium and Hulu, in addition to regular cable TV, are oversaturating the public. This new, vast generation of streaming sites makes it hard to find those shows that bring us together.
Everyone in our generation can remember the cult classics of television and the many series we enjoyed after school. You had the Nickelodeon kids, the Cartoon Network kids and the Disney kids. Everyone was a fan of “Toy Story,” or had at least seen it, and “Lilo and Stitch” still brings back waves of nostalgia. In today’s media climate, it’s more difficult to find things that bring people closer together.
You have the media titans of today, like HBO and Disney, coming out with new series and competing for coveted time slots and attention. That battle between Goliaths may be profitable for them, but for years I have found myself entrenched in YouTube for more hours than TV shows.
While companies may be succeeding and profiting off of collecting our time on their platforms, what do we get out of companies who try to cast such a wide net? Everyone might have a Netflix account or somebody else’s they share. There is neutral ground on sharing passwords. There are many different platforms now for different shows and movies, which means there is a fracturing of attention. We don’t have another “Game of Thrones” to bring us all together after it is over because we no longer are all watching the same platforms and watching the same shows.
We could all say TV shows like “That 70’s Show” or “Friends” may have defined a generation, but what shows define our generation is up in the air. “Queer Eye,” “Stranger Things,” “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead” are shows that have captured our hearts and minds. Some people may be casual enjoyers of everything or die-hard fanatics of a single show to the beratement of all the others. We have started to merge our favorite shows with our identity, and that is both a wonderful but scary thing.
If your favorite show is in its final season, you may be feeling a lot of emotions. There may be some euphoria of knowing your favorite character’s arc is coming to an end. You may be heartbroken to not have viewing parties every Sunday night with your friends or bittersweet you will now have to find something new to attach yourself to. In the end, it’s hard letting go of a show that has become a conversation starter or an actual personality trait. As these era-defining shows come to an end, it’ll be harder to find connections with people. Our streaming sphere is so vast, making our interests more varied and less narrow. We no longer all care about the same shows and movies because our attention is divided on different platforms. As Netflix and Hulu continue to grow and produce new shows every week, our interests will continue to splinter. Or maybe YouTube is the only thing grabbing your attention anymore. Regardless, as streaming services grow, we are losing the connections we previously had.
Daniel Gamboa is a UF journalism sophomore. His column normally appears on Fridays.