Why 2016 is the year of Netflix

The streaming service feels bold, eclectic, experimental - and seriously exciting, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

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2016 is a leap year, the year of the Rio Summer Olympics, the International Year of Pulses. And – in my opinion – the year of Netflix too.

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The way we consume telly has been in flux for a while now. We’re no longer slaves to the schedules. We want to watch what we want, when we want, on whatever we want. Sunday night period dramas during Wednesday lunchtimes, whole seasons of American crime dramas in one glorious go….

Netflix has long been a front-runner in the world of on demand TV. It’s been making its own original programming since 2011 and already has Oscar-nominations and Emmy and Golden Globe wins under its shiny red belt, as well as millions of subscribers worldwide.

But this year feels different. This year I am more excited about Netflix’s upcoming slate than I am about what’s on terrestrial TV – and that’s a first.

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We’ve got the return of big-budget Netflix giants like House of Cards and OITNB, but 2016 will see a plethora of brand new content besides. There’s cookery and stand-up comedy as well as thought-provoking documentaries in the vein of Making A Murderer. Light-hearted sitcoms (Fuller House, The Ranch and the return of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Grace and Frankie), political thrillers (Marseille, Stranger Things), period dramas and musicals…

The streaming service is attracting more impressive stars – Gérard Depardieu, Ashton Kutcher, Winona Ryder – and talent behind the camera too. Judd Apatow, the creative force behind Girls, Anchorman, Knocked Up and Trainwreck has jumped on Netflix’s train, creating new unromantic comedy Love and producing Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday, while Baz Luhrmann is bringing his trademark opulence to the platform this August with 70s-set musical drama The Get Down.

Add to that new ventures into the superhero universe (Marvel’s Luke Cage lands in September) and historical series The Crown – the UK’s first home-grown Netflix Original, starring Claire Foy and Matt Smith as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip – and you’ve got some seriously exciting TV. Netflix in 2016 feels bold, eclectic and experimental.

That’s not to say the rest of the on demand market is resting on its laurels. Amazon Prime has the alternative Top Gear on the way, Outlander and more; even Instagram has branched out into serial storytelling.

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But for Netflix 2016 feels special. Their commissioning is bold, their line-ups are star-studded and their shows are jostling with glossy terrestrial dramas for our attention. And they deserve it. If you haven’t already started, it’s about time you began watching.