In the wake of the streaming bubble burst and intense competition for subscribers, Netflix made concessions, including introducing a cheaper, ad-supported tier and cracking down on password sharing. Netflix’s value proposition largely rests on its vast library of original shows and movies, with a focus on quantity.
However, it makes exceptions for high-profile showrunners who are tied to exclusive deals with the platform. The departure of notable showrunners poses a potential crisis for Netflix, and one of the most significant exits is that of Mike Flanagan.
Mike Flanagan’s Contribution to Netflix
Mike Flanagan, a prolific horror auteur, has been a significant contributor to Netflix since 2016. He has been responsible for three films and five series on the platform, all of which received acclaim from both critics and audiences.
His work, such as “The Haunting of Hill House,” has been highly regarded and played a pivotal role in Netflix’s content offering.
Flanagan’s latest project on Netflix, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” is a critically acclaimed eight-episode miniseries. This series, while covering themes like greed, addiction, and vengeance, also addresses the opioid epidemic, serving as a compelling social commentary. It is a strong addition to Flanagan’s body of work and Netflix’s content library.
House of Usher: A Deep Dive
“The Fall of the House of Usher” draws inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s short story and other works by the author. The series begins as the aging CEO of a pharmaceutical company, Roderick Usher, mourns the mysterious deaths of his six children. These deaths are linked to their involvement in a pharmaceutical empire built on the creation of a highly addictive opioid.
House of Usher delves into the Usher family’s history, portraying their nefarious means of attaining wealth and power, as well as the dark fate that befalls each of Roderick’s children. The series explores the connections between the Usher family and the opioid crisis, emphasizing how capitalism and greed play a significant role in perpetuating such societal ills.
The series also parallels contemporary themes, touching upon references to real-life figures like Donald Trump and his political ascent to the White House. By connecting modern anxieties around capitalism and the opioid crisis with the Usher family’s dark tale, Flanagan provides a unique perspective on these issues.
Comparison to Succession and Character Development
“House of Usher” invites comparisons to the acclaimed series “Succession” due to its exploration of the dynamics within a wealthy and dysfunctional family. Flanagan introduces viewers to the Usher children, each of whom embodies various aspects of privilege and entitlement. They serve as metaphors for generational wealth, emphasizing how wealth and power can corrupt even the most privileged individuals.
While the Usher children are portrayed as deeply flawed characters, Flanagan’s storytelling provides a degree of empathy and understanding for their circumstances, making the audience reflect on the consequences of generational wealth.
Flanagan’s Sadistic Streak and Poe’s Influence
Although Flanagan’s work has featured intense and gruesome moments, “House of Usher” explores a darker and more sadistic side, with nearly every episode culminating in the violent death of a Usher family member. These scenes, while gory, are satisfying for viewers, particularly in contrast to the real-life perpetrators of the opioid crisis who have faced minimal consequences.
While the series draws inspiration from Poe’s work, it serves as a scaffold for a more original story. The integration of lines from Poe’s poems into a narrative about a pharmaceutical empire feels somewhat awkward but does not overshadow the show’s strengths.
The Challenge Ahead for Mike Flanagan
Flanagan is set to adapt Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” series for television, a challenging task given the disappointing previous film adaptation. However, Flanagan’s successful track record in adapting King’s works makes him a strong contender for the task.
His transition to new projects is a setback for Netflix, which will need to find suitable replacements for his prolific and critically acclaimed content contributions.
In summary, the departure of showrunners like Mike Flanagan presents a significant challenge for Netflix, as it seeks to maintain its position in the competitive streaming landscape. Flanagan’s departure is especially notable, given his extensive contribution to Netflix’s content library.