Kevin Spacey - It's Not 'On TV' So, Is The Netflix Series House of Cards a 'Television' Show?
"It's sort of like we're the new TV show that isn't on television," Kevin Spacey, star of the new show, told The Huffington Post. It was only a matter of time before a company that isn't tied to 'television' would produce a 'television series'. What do we call House of Cards now that it's available through Netflix rather than the traditional platform of the Television? Is it still a television show? It may still appear, in some homes and some contexts, on our television screens but it hasn't come to us through the standard methods, more often it's via a games console of through a computer, so what makes a television show a 'television' show? What is the defining Television-ness of television?
We're devolving into the absurd complexities akin to Heidegger here, but as British media distribution companies Blockbuster and HMV become obsolete and forced into potential bankruptcy and liquidation, so broadcasting channels are having to rethink their own distribution and broadcasting methods to compete with such companies as Netflix, particularly given that it has just created its first, very own, Netflix Show : a remake of the BBV miniseries House of Cards, this time around starring Spacey.
Not only are they not starting out small fry (the two series they've commissed allegedly cost $100m), but now - before House of Cards has even been released - the Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has asked another $400m from investors predicting a high ride from a good turnout for the new show - although, as he admitted, he isn't expecting an enormous surge in subscribers simply for House of Cards, but by offering programming unavailable elsewhere and utterly unmissable (which is certainly his plan and already includes a roster of Arrested Development, Orange is the New Black and Ricky Gervais' Derek), in the long run that $400m will go a long way. Hopefully.
House of Cards itself is a tense political drama described by DailyBlam as a "wicked political drama [which] penetrates the shadowy world of greed, sex, and corruption in modern D.C. Ruthless and cunning, Congressman Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his wife Claire (Robin Wright) stop at nothing to conquer everything." Sounds great and reviews so far have been glowing. Well played Netflix.
But, actually, none of that answers the original question of whether Netflix shows are actually television shows. Well, if we trace the word back to its Greek roots, 'tele-' means 'distance', and vision... well, it means vision. While Netflix and LoveFilm manage to weedle themselves further and further into our lives, and as the other on-demand services from existing channels are all making their programming available more and more easily via tablets and cell phones, there really is very little distance to any of this viewing.