Here’s Why Apple Will Fail at Original Video Content

Apple has launched a number of projects creating original video content – apparently, “TV” series for now – but there is already some sand in the works. As MacRumor reports, show runner Bryan Fuller, who was slated to run Apple’s Amazing Stories series, has left the project.

Fuller is said to have wanted to turn “Amazing Stories” into a Black Mirror-style show, while Apple is aiming for a more family friendly series.

This is why Apple will fail. “Family friendly” TV series don’t do very well today, at least not with critics. There are plenty of such series on TV, cable, and on Netflix and Amazon, but they aren’t the ones that get the mentions in the press about “the golden age of television.” It’s the series like The Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire, and others, that get noticed, not because they are not family friendly, but because the broke barriers and went places that others didn’t dare. Of course, with something like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, these daring elements have been taken to excess, becoming parodies of themselves, but if Apple thinks they can do a Disney and have any presence in original series content, I can’t see that it will go very far.

It’s interesting how Apple has no problem selling and renting movies and TV series that are not family friendly, but draws the line at putting the company’s name on such content. What’s the difference? You’re selling the stuff either way. If you really don’t want sex and violence – as they prohibit in apps they sell – then stop selling it.

To be fair, I’m not a fan of gratuitous violence, and I gave up on Game of Thrones early on, and tried, really tried, to stick with The Walking Dead for a while, but couldn’t go on. (I’m a fan of that sort of post-apocalyptic thing; like Stephen King’s The Stand.)

This said, there’s no reason why excellent TV can’t be family friendly. But in today’s television climate, it’s difficult. West Wing is one of the best series ever on TV (IMHO), and it was a network show. Friday Night Lights was a brilliant series, that ran on a network. And Downton Abbey was far from controversial. There are plenty of comedy series that are family friendly. But to push the envelope, there needs to be daring topics, ones that may have some swear words and some tits, and, well, some violence. Black Mirror, House of Cards, Westworld, Homeland, True Detective; all these current and recent series would not pass on US network TV.

But if Apple draws the line at family friendly TV, they will miss out on the next big series; the next Game of Thrones, True Detective, or Breaking Bad. Let’s face it, Reese Witherspoon will not be part of cutting-edge series drama.

5 thoughts on “Here’s Why Apple Will Fail at Original Video Content

  1. Except she (Reese) was when she produced and starred in Big Little Lies (I know, not exactly family friendly but still, you said cutting edge). And what if Apple wants to be the new live-action Pixar? I mean why would you do a Black Mirror, there already is one. The thing is there is a void in the market for smart, well written series.
    We (I’m 55, no kids) may not be that market, but it’s out there and it’s not being served.

    • I agree, but if they limit themselves to that segment of the market, they will miss out on the types of big shows that could make their name as a video producer.

      Good point about Big Little Lies; I just watched one episode, and didn’t like it, but it was quite cutting edge.

      • From what I’ve learned this morning on MacOS Ken’s podcast, I wouldn’t make too much of Fuller’s leaving, he has a habit of doing that in preproduction (the latest Star Trek discovery being the most recent).

  2. Kirk as usual (IMHO) you are mostly spot on. However it is possible to make “family friendly” well written/acted TV productions that are not given to excessive sex and violence. But as you say – it is hard. Here is hoping Apple can bring to original programming the same vision and attention to detail they have brought to the computer world.

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