Culture Crash 19-15: The Increasing Cost of Cutting the Cord


Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.

With Apple’s recent announcement that the company will launch a new streaming service called Apple TV+ this fall, we all have another subscription to consider paying for. Of course, this will be in addition to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, the leading streaming providers already up and running. And joining the fray soon will be Disney’s streaming option, Disney+, which is scheduled to include the company’s library of animated classics. If that wasn’t enough, Criterion recently launched a streaming channel of its own which aims to fill the hole left in the marketplace to watch Indie and foreign films. Sounds like a lot, right?

Well, we haven’t even mentioned CBS All Access which will exclusively air the new Twilight Zone, and none of this includes cable. For that, you’d have to subscribe to a traditional cable provider or an internet provider like Sling, PlayStation Vue, or Hulu + Live TV. Premium channels, like HBO, Showtime, and Starz cost even more.

Of course, this is just streaming movies and TV at home. If you want to see a new movie, you’ll still have to go buy a ticket at your local theater. And if you want to listen to music, well, there are other monthly fees for Spotify and Apple Music.

Sounds expensive, doesn’t it? A few years ago, cutting the cord and eliminating your cable package in favor of Netflix or Hulu was supposed to be a cost-saving move. Now, streaming is getting to be just as expensive as that cable package was in the first place. And if you rely on streaming, then you already know you’re dependent on the ever-evolving libraries these services provide and a reliable internet connection, which, you know, costs even more money.

In our digital world, there are more entertainment options than ever before. But the days where you could just subscribe to everything may be drawing to a close. Now, many of us will be forced to decide if we’re Netflix people or Apple TV+ people. And you’ll have to get used to ignoring all the chatter about the great new show on whichever option you simply can’t afford anymore.

I’m Evan Rook. 

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Culture Crash 19-06: Missing Gems in the Deluge of ‘Peak TV’

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.

Vulture reported that 495 scripted television shows were broadcast and streamed for the first time in 2018. That’s up from the 216 series that aired less than a decade ago, back in 2010.

With such a boom in the sheer volume of the medium, thanks largely to the growth of streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video… it can be easy to lose track of everything you’ve been meaning to watch.

Case in point for me is the Showtime limited series, Escape at Dannemora. The show began airing just a few months back in November, but in TV time, that’s eons ago. Anyway, I meant to watch the show when it was coming out but forgot all about it until the show began hitting the awards circuit. Patricia Arquette specifically has won both a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Award for her turn in the series, and that was what finally reminded me to give the show a try.

Boy, am I glad I did. Escape at Dannemora is based on a real 2015 prison break in upstate New York and stars Paul Dano and Benicio del Toro as two prison inmates, and Patricia Arquette as a prison employee who becomes tangled up in their web. All seven episodes of the series were directed by Ben Stiller, but make no mistake: this show is a dramatic thriller, not a whimsical comedy. It’s really good and now streaming on Showtime’s various web apps.

But Escape at Dannemora isn’t the only shows I missed in the waterfall of TV content.

High on my to-watch list are AMC’s The Little Drummer Girl, based on the John le Carre novel of the same name and Netflix’s Bodyguard, which is a hugely successful political thriller that originally aired on BBC One. Of course, at some point I may need some comedic relief, in which case I’ll turn to, maybe Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or Netflix’s American Vandal, two shows I’ve started but have not finished.

The reservoir of TV content is very, very deep. Sometimes, that can be daunting. And sometimes, that can mean stumbling back on something that dominated the zeitgeist for a few fleeting moments several months ago, and having a blast discovering those things for yourself.

I’m Evan Rook. 

Stay in the loop! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook! Subscribe and review on iTunes!

Culture Crash 18-01: The Chi

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine american culture. What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Screenwriter and actress Lena Waithe won an Emmy last year for her work on Aziz Ansari’s Master of None. This year,  she’s branching out with a show she created called The Chi. The Chi will be set on Chicago’s South Side, the epicenter of the violence crisis happening in the nation’s third biggest city.

Waithe is a Chicago native herself, as her co-producer, the rapper Common. it’s clear they want to shine on a light on some of the real atrocities happening in Chicago, but they also have a palpable love for their hometown. The show is filmed in a way that manages to showcase the bright colors and beautiful street art of Chicago while still displaying the problems that have deep roots in the city.

The show centers on a group of young adults living in Chicago. The opening scene follows a boy on a bike riding around to the energetic music of Chance the Rapper. He cruises around the streets, bargaining for a discounted pop at the local convenience store, and having a pretty carefree day until he comes upon a dead body laying on the street. He checks for a pulse and when the cops come around, he’s in handcuffs before he can even explain what he was doing there.

Though only one episode has been released, The Chi looks to be a promising show with an impressive cast taking on subject matter that is timely and heartbreaking.

The Chi airs Sunday nights on Showtime, starting tonight, January 7. the first episode is available to stream on Showtime’s website or in the Showtime app.     

I’m Evan Rook.