Leave a Comment
While online streaming is still a ways away from completely replacing traditional television viewing, it is ubiquitous enough at this point to make "Why isn't this show on Netflix yet?" a fairly common inquiry. Netflix gives its customers a chance to binge shows on their own schedules, which gives everyone more time to bitch about the programs that we can't just magically turn on at every whim. It all comes down to money and exclusivity, of course, but if the streaming service is willing to dump a ton of money into acquiring The Blacklist and all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls, then why can't it pony up the dough for everything else we want? As such, here are ten huge shows we think Netflix needs to add to its library posthaste, so that we may forget things like Hemlock Grove exist.
SeinfeldThe Show About Nothing has been a staple of syndication for over 15 years now, which might lead one to believe that its presence on demand wouldn’t be as welcomed. Well that’s a bunch of malarkey, and new generations of future Seinfeld fanatics are in dire need of a place to get their Puddy binge on. (The show is up on Crackle, but there are all those ads, not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Jerry Seinfeld himself took part in a Reddit AMA recently where he admitted discussions are being had with Netflix over the classic sitcom’s untouched VOD rights, as its TV deals (both cable and broadcast) expire this fall. This isn’t to say Netflix will definitely be getting their man hands all over it, as Amazon is no stranger in the “spending huge sums of money for exclusive rights” department, but one can hope. We’ll shine an insanely bright red light in their windows if they muck this up.
FriendsSo no one told you Friends would take forever to reach Netflix. (Absence of clapping.) Like its former Must See TV teammate Seinfeld, Friends has reached the point where its syndicated run has matched its original 10-season run. Those rights issues are certainly the reason Netflix is out of the loop at this point, as the company is probably unwilling to foot the extreme costs. But this is one of the most popular TV series to ever exist, and its near-timelessness means that popularity will likely never cease. People want to relive Ross and Rachel’s tumultuous relationship, Joey’s sexual trysts, Chandler’s quips, Monica’s gripes and Phoebe’s…songs? Not to mention Ugly Naked Guy’s antics. Let’s hope this episode, “The One Where Netflix Doesn’t Pay for Friends,” comes to an end soon.
The WireDuring Breaking Bad’s final season(s), Netflix’s involvement brought not only more viewers to the series but also many subscribers to the service itself. Netflix didn’t have that option when it came to HBO’s The Wire, the series most often touted in the same breath as Breaking Bad as the greatest TV series ever. But that’s fine; being late to the party is better than never knowing the party existed in the first place. Because of HBO’s stubborn exclusivity issues and pricy Blu-rays/DVDs, the network’s series are generally seen less than those sharing similar acclaim on other networks. A few months back, Amazon Instant scooped up the rights to a slew of HBO shows, but surely Netflix can make a call on a burner phone to someone who can make a side deal happen. I'm optimistic that if Marlo Stanfield paid a visit to Jeff Bezos’ headquarters, Netflix could immediately start giving its customers the most dense ensemble cast TV has ever known.
The ShieldShawn Ryan’s The Shield, like The Wire, is one of the few dark and gritty crime dramas that never lost its touch over an extended period of time. For seven seasons, viewers cringed and gasped as Michael Chiklis’ Detective Vic Mackey and his Farmington PD Strike Team ruined the lives not only of dangerous gang members, but also their fellow officers. By keeping its storyline tethered to events that happen when we first meet the team (which includes the always excellent Walton Goggins), The Shield manages never to overstep its own boundaries, all while making a massacre of the cable TV world that came before. Far more binge-worthy than the multiple Law & Order series Netflix currently has streaming, The Shield deserves a home at the fingertips of drama-lovers everywhere, even at the expense of hanging out with Dutch on a nightly basis.
Clone HighEverything is mostly awesome for fans of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the filmmakers behind The Lego Movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and the Jump Street movies, but not for those who want to relive the duo’s earliest trek into pop culture infamy, the hilarious MTV animated comedy Clone High. The 2002-2003 series took place in a high school populated by teenage clones of history’s most recognizable faces. Will Forte plays the naive Abe Lincoln, who is in love with the dismissive prima donna Cleopatra (Christa Miller), blind to the affection-filled advances from Joan of Arc (Nicole Sullivan). Ghandi (Michael McDonald), JFK (Chris Miller) and many more make this a consistently amusing and irreverent take on the melodramatic teen dramas that MTV gets into every now and again. Why hasn’t Netflix jumped on the Lord/Miller bandwagon yet?
The Sifl & Olly ShowSpeaking of MTV shows that remain criminally underseen, Liam Lynch and Matt Crocco’s bizarrely hysterical 1997-1999 comedy The Sifl & Olly Show is another series whose existence might be all but forgotten if it wasn’t for the fact that it was amazing. (And also because Lynch resurrected the sock puppet duo and the format for his Lynchland podcast and some YouTube videos.) Sifl and Olly are best friends who like to sing songs, both real and fictional, while taking calls from the public, chatting with the burned-out Chester, and listening to pitchman Precious Roy making suckers out of girls and boys with his horrible product ideas. America’s youth has some serious ass “lack of Sifl & Olly on Netflix” problems, and there’s only one way to fix them.
Picket FencesDavid E. Kelley has created some hugely popular series, such as Ally McBeal and Chicago Hope, but the standout oddity on his resume is arguably CBS’ Picket Fences, where eeriness was a way of life. In the small town of Rome, Wisconsin, Sheriff Jimmy Brock (Tom Skerritt) and his bumbling deputies Max (Lauren Holly) and Kenny (Costas Mandylor) dealt with all manner of surreal circumstances and crimes. It’s probably the only show on TV where spontaneous combustion and shoe fetishes appeared in the same four-year span. With a stellar supporting cast that included Kathy Baker, Fyvush Finkel, Ray Walston and (later) Don Cheadle, Picket Fences is like a less deliberately obtuse Twin Peaks, only with more religion and courtrooms involved. Honestly, I don’t remember this series as well as I’d like to, and Netflix could easily help me out. If not, the company may meet the fate of one of Rome’s many mayors.
American GothicCreated by Shaun Cassidy, the intensely creepy drama American Gothic is right up there with Firefly and Terriers in the Cancelled Too Soon Hall of Fame, and ranks among CBS’ most disturbing series. The always great Gary Cole is Lucas Buck, an evil small town sheriff who has the power to manipulate the townsfolk into doing horrible things. Case in point: in order to gain custody of his biological son Caleb (Lucas Black), who was the result of a violent rape, Buck’s tactics include murder and assisted suicide. Not your average first episode, I’ll tell you. The series then follows certain citizens attempting to thwart Buck’s reign of terror, where ghosts and darkness abound. Beyond picking up American Gothic to stream, Netflix, why don’t you also go ahead and figure out a way to bring it back for a second season for the 20th anniversary of its first episode next year? I don’t want to have to go Buck on you.
Tales from the DarksideWhile The Twilight Zone is arguably the greatest of all the horror/sci-fi anthologies, I’ve always found the mid-1980s series Tales from the Darkside to be far scarier and wilder in its approach to storytelling. (It was the 1980s, after all.) But while the latter is Netflix-ready, audiences can’t stream Tales from the Darkside. George Romero created it as a series version of Creepshow, but rights issues forced him to change the title; it didn’t stop him from rounding up some of the greatest horror writers in the business though, spinning excellent episodes off of short stories by Stephen King, Clive Barker, Harlan Ellison and many more. The episode “Love Hungry,” in which an overweight woman’s food starts talking to her, was pure nightmare fuel for my childhood. But how can I find out if it’s nightmare fuel for my daughter if it’s not available on Netflix?
Are You Afraid of the Dark?Submitted for the approval of the TV Blend-Reading Society, I call this story, “Where the fuck is Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Netflix?" This Nickelodeon series, which can be seen as the older, more serial killer-prone brother of Goosebumps and R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, is still one of the only modern-day children’s shows that tackled generally terrifying material, balancing it out with some of the hammiest acting you’ve ever seen. Netflix has never been great for acquiring anthology series, but this seems like an excellent grab, tying into viewer nostalgia, early celebrity roles, and people who love to be scared by clowns. Perhaps there’s a potion or something at Sardo’s Magic Mansion that I can get to make Netflix buy the series.
Other notable mentions for this list include Hill Street Blues, Sledge Hammer!, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, St. Elsewhere, Action, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and everything else that isn’t on Netflix.