As “Peak TV” reigns supreme and every network or streaming service of repute has made its way into developing original TV shows, Amazon has remained a fascinating mixed bag. While many of its shows have garnered critical acclaim, none of them have reached the heights of pop culture buzz or audience enthusiasm on the level that Netflix has regularly achieved. A few notable series made a splash – The Man in the High Castle has its fans, Mozart in the Jungle has become an unlikely awards favorite, and the oft-overlooked Transparent that became the first TV show from a streaming service to win a Golden Globe.
Yet the zeitgeist remains just out of reach, with a few of Amazon’s most hyped efforts flopping hard, such as the sadly underappreciated The Good Girls Revolt and the less-than-stellar Crisis in Six Scenes (Woody Allen’s first foray into TV, a deal which Amazon made without him having a script or even idea ready). The service’s pilot scheme, where users can watch a series of potential pick-ups and vote for the one they liked the most to get a full season, is a smart idea that’s helped Amazon stand out in an increasingly crowded field, but it doesn’t seem to have translated to viewers in the long-term. For many people, Amazon is still just the place to shop online, not stream TV.
That may be changing, however, thanks in part to the incredible success Amazon has had with its film division. After adopting a more traditional indie studio mold of releases for films such as Manchester by the Sea and The Salesman, Amazon became the new darling of the industry, making millions at the box office and picking up a couple of Oscars along the way. Compare that to Netflix, which has struggled to gain legitimacy in the industry by stalwartly sticking to the streaming model. The new objective for Amazon is to see if that mold can be replicated in its TV division, where a strictly streaming-based strategy is necessary. Where Amazon seeks to differentiate itself from Netflix is in its specific branding as a place for creators. Like its impressive film slate, Amazon’s upcoming TV series shows off much-anticipated collaborations with major directors from the film world as well as beloved TV show-runners. Like Netflix, it’s keen to encompass a solid variety of genres and audiences, but on a much smaller scale. There are familiar names as well as big-budget risks and idiosyncratic indie fare.
We’ve compiled a list of all of Amazon’s upcoming original programming. Some of these shows have set premiere dates, but many are simply tentatively listed for 2017, while others are still in production or the very early stages of development. All of these dates and programs are subject to change.
I Love Dick
While the title may be impossible to Google safely, the new show from Jill Soloway (Transparent) carries some major arthouse clout. Based on the influential novel by Chris Kraus, the series’ pilot made a splash with critics thanks to its deft handling of a tricky tone and unflinching examination of a trio of flawed and frequently unlikeable characters. I Love Dick, part autobiography, part meta-study of gender, is a love-triangle drama about a dissatisfied film-maker (Kathryn Hahn), her professor husband (Griffin Dunne) and the unnervingly charming Dick (Kevin Bacon), an infamous academic who neither of them can stay away from. Much of the story centers on the smothering and painfully pretentious art world the trio inhabit and skewers the artistic community’s grand delusions of changing the world with impenetrable academic theory, which makes the show sound unbearably dry. In fact, it’s a witty satire shot beautifully through Soloway’s style and offers career best roles to both Hahn and Bacon. As Soloway’s Transparent brought much needed critical acclaim to Amazon, the site will be hoping for lightning to strike twice.
I Love Dick will premiere on May 12th.
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