From Gossip Girl to Frasier to Sex and the City: Do reboots drive nostalgia — or despair? | TV and radio

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From Gossip Girl to Frasier to Sex and the City: Do reboots drive nostalgia — or despair? | TV and radio

eEarlier this year, it was announced that Kelsey Grammer will be returning to television in a remake of the popular ’90s comedy Frasier. Grammer, who has struggled to find a successful following since the series ended in 2004, might as well Very happy to be back. However, his official statement hinted at industry maneuvers as well as job satisfaction – before sharing how much he “happily” anticipates the new series, be sure to name Paramount twice and congratulate the studio on his “entry into the world of live streaming.”

It was the latest ad to bring a deja vu feel to TV, as it follows cinema in reviving old hit after old hit, and the big stars of the ’90s and ’80s are just pawns in a larger war between streamers and traditional TV. Last week, the BBC announced that it had secured the UK premiere of the much-anticipated film. gossip Girl Reboot. The tables have evolved in recent years with the return and re-imagining of old shows, from Will & Grace And the stunted development in the United States cold feet And the Spitting image In the UK, with more mega hits including Dexter and Samantha-free Sex and the City It’s all in the pipeline.

“It’s getting to the point where there are different types of reboots,” says Peter White, television editor for the entertainment industry publication Deadline. “You have shows like Sex and the City where you bring back most of the original cast for the continuation of the show. Then you have names where they basically take the brand name — so Gossip Girl comes back with a new cast. Some of them can be quite creative. Everyone hates Chris coming back as a cartoon. Playing The Wonder Years, it’s still as focused on the ’60s as the original show – which was made in the ’80s – but with a black family instead of a white one, which is more exciting than just updating it.”

There appear to be three main reasons for this trend. The first is Roseanne Barr. When the comedy Roseanne returned to ABC in 2018, it was the most-watched show of the year in America, averaged 20 million viewers Unprecedented numbers for the Sitcom network in the modern era. In the end, the chain burned out flame of controversyand Barr was fired from ABC for a racist tweet. But the networks have seen the power of nostalgia revival. The show was later rebooted as The Conners, who killed Roseanne’s character in the first episode and followed the rest of the family as they dealt with her death. It is currently the biggest sitcom on ABC.

The second reason is the rise of streaming wars and SVODs (Subscription Video on Demand Services). Netflix realized early on that it could attract nostalgic subscribers by replaying shows from other networks. they It is rumored to have paid Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham $750,000 per episode to return for a four-part coda for the mother/daughter sitcom Gilmore Girls, famous for its incredibly fast dialogue and coffee-addicted child characters. Likewise, impressive price tags have been attached to Netflix’s revival of Full House and Arrested Development.

The third reason is that the TV industry appears to be risk averse – perhaps even more so during the pandemic. But, despite the seemingly low probability of failure, the history of television reboots is not littered with success stories. Shows like 2015 Heroes are born (a reboot of the superhero series) and the 2017 Prison Break revival debuted to low viewership numbers and disappointing reviews. And is anyone talking about the reworked Saved By the Bell, or the failed YouTube competitor Quibi versions of the Reno 911 and Punk’d!?

Roseanne Barr and John Goodman in the short-lived but highly successful Roseanne reboot of 2018
Never before… Roseanne Barr and John Goodman in the short-lived but highly successful Roseanne reboot of 2018. Photo: Adam Rose/Associated Press

Article in the magazine art in america He noted that Quibi’s reboots were “all somewhat naughty in their original incarnation” but were “neutralized beyond recognition”. She considered this a product of a culture “so obsessed with proving its morals that it searches for the weakest sign of spontaneity, and then installs it until it disappears.” So, if reruns are supposed to be a safe bet, why are they rarely among the most watched or critically acclaimed TV shows?

“It’s a financial thing,” White says. “A mediocre reboot can be better for the bottom line than a new hack. Streaming services want something shiny that people will recognize and differentiate them from their competition. Traditional networks can go to advertisers with something new and recognizable. Everyone in the network says they want to find the next Fleabag, which is Original text coming out of left field – but 2 minutes later they ask Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Donald Glover to reboot Mr. and Mrs. Smith. (The 2005 film, remade into a TV series by Amazon, starred Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as a pair of married serial killers tasked with assassinating each other.)

White says linking a show to an existing TV brand is often the only way to get it done. “If someone came up with a great new idea for a high school show for teens, it might be as good if not better than Saved By the Bell, but that nostalgia factor is a quick and easy way.”

Future Mr. and Mrs. Smith...Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Donald Glover.
Future Mr. and Mrs. Smith…Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Donald Glover. Photo: Fraser Harrison/BAFTA Los Angeles/Getty Images

Nostalgia also fed another, less creative category that emerged during the lockdown, when new content was in short supply. Parks and Recreation, The West Wing and The New Prince of Bel-Air staged “Reunion” episodes that were really just a lackluster rereading of old episode scripts, lifeless Zoom calls or interviews with the tepid cast. Meanwhile, many outweighed Friends reunion It was little more than a long drive down memory lane, with improbable contributions from the likes of Justin Bieber. However, this seems to be a huge draw for streaming creators – HBO Max has been describing it for over a year.

Adisola Thomas is a television critic and screenwriter who has worked for Netflix and the Television Development Department of Indie distributor A24. Earlier this year, I wrote an article for Paste magazine about whether a reboot of Sex and the City could successfully bypass white feminism. “I don’t think reboots should be regressive in nature,” she says via Zoom. But the regression is kind of the result of trying to revive something from a bygone era.

“I hope the Sex and the City reboot is great. I just wonder what it means to focus the energy on that when, at the moment, we’re trying to focus less on making television than rich white people and the ideas they do. The reboots provide comfort and convenience to viewers.” in an uncertain world. But escaping to a familiar place can mean updating the ancient stories of a world not created to anticipate.”

“Dark and Dramatic”…Fresh Prince Spinoff Bel-Air ran for two seasons.

The storylines, which won’t air on HBO today, state, “Like the episode where Samantha wants to have sex with a black guy because she thinks he has a big penis. And I think my generation would look at a character like Big and say, ‘Sure, he’s an avoidant, that’s his bonding style. “I don’t think there would be the same kind of plot about the chaos of their relationship. But that was an authentic character in the show’s spirit at the time. How are they going to translate that identity into 2021?”

Thomas says her generation of young screenwriters understand that a lot of the writing jobs available are now restarting, and most of them would be happy to work. “High maintenance, for example, a show that I love from the bottom of my heart. They didn’t bring it back for season five, but if they had asked me to be in the writers room, I would definitely have gone! Because there are still so many stories to tell out there. That’s my thing.” In reboots, I don’t think they are all bad but we should criticize why they happen. Who are they serving?”

This doesn’t seem to be a very worrying question for software makers, given the golden age of rebooting TV shows no signs of stopping. In addition to the likes of Sex and the City and Gossip Girl, next year will see reboots planned or spin-offs for Battlestar Galactica, Criminal Minds, True Blood, Beavis, Butthead, Game of Thrones,A dark and dramatic showdown on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air‘, and much more. Who be Do they serve? The answer is not clear but one thing is for sure: If there’s anything the movie industry has to go through, TV may soon be making reboots.

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