The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
The nostalgia cycle begins about every twenty years. Ten years isn’t enough time to allow the requisite rose-colored glasses to form. Thirty years is too much time. Twenty is the sweet spot. This is sufficient enough to ruminate on the past with a sense of removal, long enough to slightly distort.
The streaming age has made it possible for nostalgia to flourish. While biopics have existed for decades, streaming platforms have changed the rules. Biopics no longer have to be good; there just need to be many of them available for viewing. Their endless ads will circulate social media to generate buzz, each one vying for our attention. Watch this one! Watch that one! It’s a Netflix/ Hulu/ Amazon original!
Two recent additions to this ever-growing horde are Hulu’s Pam and Tommy and Netflix’s Inventing Anna. Both are examples of scandalous true stories that have a lot to teach their audience. However, their lessons are not limited to those inside their narratives. They are also both examples of series that likely will not endure because they are both devoid of human touch.
It is important to note that many of these works are original products of streaming service studios. They have denatured what a biopic should be (well-told, meaningful, awareness that real-life stories will influence how viewers perceive the real-life equivalents) and often approach their subjects without sensitivity or substance. This is because of the relentless speed at which these works are being produced and distributed.
Neither Pamela Anderson nor Tommy Lee was consulted during the making of Pam and Tommy, which means that the series was made without their consent and carries an even more unsettling tone of intrusion that is already the narrative premise of the series. If the takeaway from the series is about the complications of celebrity privacy, why did the producers disregard their real-world subjects?
Inventing Anna is about Anna Delvey, a woman who scammed her way into the New York elite. While the true story is astonishing, it isn’t framed in an interesting way. The show focuses more on Vivian, a character loosely based on the reporter who cracked the Delvey story, Jessica Pressler.
In addition to focusing on Vivian, Delvey’s crimes are related secondhand through minor characters and the audience doesn’t see Delvey attempt them herself. You could argue this is to preserve mystique but truthfully, it’s lazy writing. The scenes showing Delvey’s success in her crimes are limited to quick shots, such as that of a credit card being swiped. That’s all? If this was the story we didn’t know we wanted to be retold, surely it deserves to be as compelling as it was promised to be.
Right now, it is difficult to gauge if we are forever stuck with streaming studios’ fixation on reviving the past. If that fixation is shared by the audience or if it is being instilled. If it is simply a temporary lull in the creative process. Only time will tell.
Twenty years should do it.