Suffering the same fate as the original stores, Netflix’s new workplace sitcom probably won’t stand the test of time. And, as cheesy as it sounds, was a complete bust (get it?)! Minor spoilers ahead in case you fancy a binge.
This 10-part series is based loosely on the story of the last ever Blockbuster store. At 30 minutes an episode, yet again, we have an easily bingeable show that doesn’t take much brain power to consume – perfect background noise in my opinion. But despite its predecessors, this show just doesn’t have the same spark that other comfort comedies do.
From the writers of the much beloved Brooklyn 99 and Superstore, lots of sitcom fans (including myself) had very high hopes for the next instalment of workplace chaos. Melissa Fumero (most well-known for playing Amy Santiago in B99) stars as Eliza alongside front running man Randall Park (from Fresh Off the Boat and WandaVision) who plays Timmy. Portraying fairly similar characters to those we’re used to, these two seem shoe-horned into creating a relationship. To me, it feels awkward and stilted that these characters, who have known each other since high school, are now forming a romantic relationship in the dingy staff room of a strip mall Blockbuster on the verge of bankruptcy. Despite the awkward, forced writing of the more emotional aspects of the show, these veterans of US sitcoms are still able to perfectly sell those cheesy one liners - if you miss them, you’ve missed a speck of comedy gold peeking through an otherwise grey space.
As with any workplace sitcom, we are greeted with a somewhat dysfunctional team that all seem to get along and complement each other and society very well. My favourite, and possible new comfort character (look out Jim Halpert!) is Carlos (Tyler Alvarez). This struggling student works at the store part-time to fuel his passion for cinema and, as ‘the next Quentin Tarantino’, enjoys making short films to help boost awareness of the store. His love for, well… everyone, and overall positive outlook on life is a really comforting motive for watching the show, distracting from the other over-the-top storylines. Also, the show includes a lovely message about community. By getting rid of the stores, people are no longer encouraged to see a familiar face regularly and talk about a common interest. We just don’t get that when we stream and binge, sat alone in a dark room, simultaneously scrolling through the internet.
Since the stores bankruptcy in the early 2010’s, watching films and television has never been the same. Now the competition for streaming sights is heating up with Disney+, Apple TV putting Netflix in imminent danger. By releasing new originals such as Blockbuster, unfortunately Netflix have recently learnt the term karma – the streaming sight is one of the main reasons Blockbuster stores shut down, and here they have created another flop in their honour, carrying on the legacy if you will. Clearly, in this modern world full of competitive streaming, Blockbuster was never meant to thrive, in any format. So despite the brilliant film references, classic snappy one liners, and in the spirit of togetherness, I say bring back Blockbuster – the store, not the show!