A Changing Medium: How to Live in the Age of Digital Streaming

Welcome to Corona Confessions - a series written by CJLO community members. Join us on the journey as we recommend anything from healthy home-dweller habits to late night jams. Here’s resident movie expert Remi’s discussion on the new era of motion picture consumption - the digital age.

I used to live a life of going over to a friend's to binge watch the latest must-see series on Netflix or Amazon Prime. When the new seasons of Arrested Development started on Netflix I said it must be the changing times that I must now get with. However, I did not realize that we did not have the right internet set up for streaming, as well my parents were hesitant about living in the digital age and saw it as a waste of money that we would have to spend more money to upgrade our internet and pay for streaming services. We already had the PVR boxes with basic cable, HBO and the new Crave. Thankfully for those two channels alongside the FX and AMC network have provided the quality entertainment that primetime networks cannot match. We recently changed our internet package not to unlimited, but hopefully a better solution for a bit of streaming per day. As well our internet provider recently placed a non-data cap on our internet services for a while. I made the discovery of Crave online, in which I was able to lose myself with the help of Westworld and start the 11 seasons of Frasier. Three weeks later I decided I needed an endless supply of content if I was going to be self-isolating at the house for an indefinite period, I woke up at 6:00 AM in the morning thinking rationally without my morning cup of coffee and subscribed to Netflix and Amazon Prime including a Starz package.

Streaming services have offered some fresh and innovative series that sets them apart from traditional primetime networks. For one thing there are no commercials in between the story or the laughs. There are more liberties that shows can take with their content while keeping the voice of the creator of the series. Master of None from creator Aziz Ansari and this year's Ramy from creator Ramy Yussef are less than half-hour situational comdies that are not only innovative in the topics that they discuss, but there is more artistic vision quality behind the camera that most prime time comedies lack on a prime time network. There are some exceptions with the prime time comedies, but most find a second home on streaming services anyways like fan favourites Friends, Community, 30 Rock, The Office, and Parks and Recreation. With this new hosting method, they develop more of a cult status amongst loyal and new fans. This has given me a chance to catch up with Frasier and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, some of the best '90s comedies that I never got around to finishing. The same innovation can be seen within the genre of drama, most of which I need to catch up on. However, I am happy to find the first three seasons of the FX series Fargo and the AMC classics including Breaking Bad and it’s prelude: Better Call Saul. Also, there is no excuse at all to get into some of the best HBO prime series including The Sopranos and The Wire with Crave offering an add-on for HBO content, a worthwhile investment in my book.

When it comes to the movies, I miss browsing the endless supplies of content at the local video store, soon to be an ancient relic, or the local public library with an extensive Criterion Collection. Known-name directors in the film industry have started having their films go on streaming networks. One of the downsides of this would be the fact that these are the directors that demand their films be viewed on the big screen. It has always been a struggle to see these films get a theatrical or a festival release. For now I am happy that Uncut Gems from the Safdie Brothers, my Scarface on-repeat film, can be streamed at my convenience on Netflix. As well as last year's success with The Irishman and Marriage Story as original Netflix films, I can’t wait to rewatch Roma with my parents that haven’t seen it. It also seems that with the world in a mandatory state of isolation, film directors and studios will have to rethink their approach to getting their films released to the audience, wherever that may be. With the movie theatres closed most have opted for what is known as a premium at-home rental, a theatre movie for rent at a higher rate than the standard rental.

In the times that we live in where isolation is strongly encouraged and strongly recommended, there is going to be a streaming service and platform for everyone, including the cinephile, drama, situational comedy or reality television audience. I have found that having two services can provide you the most options without it being too limiting. It's important to take breaks between films or episodes of the series, even though you can probably get through 10 episodes of a situational comedy easily with the platform loading the next episode as soon as the credits roll, or even asking you if you are still watching. There is still a lingering thought of "yes this is how I have chosen to spend my day" or "no maybe I should get up and do something while the sun outside gleams a shadow on the screen", but it's important to see daylight during these times. Take in some fresh air while respecting social distancing practices, read a book, and find an activity that you find both fulfilling in terms of time management and also rewarding. In closing, stay safe streaming at home and be safe.

Remi is the host of At The Movies which features everything new and noteworthy in the world of cinema. The show goes live every Tuesday at 8:00 AM.