THE NEXT generation of entertainment series are not going to be viewed on free-to-air, Foxtel, Netflix, Apple TV or any other new streaming service battling for our attention, because now the social media giants are starting to enter the streaming boxing ring, and ready to swing. Or at least, the production companies using them.
From the studio founded by Don’t Look Up director Adam McKay, Yellow Dot Studios, Cobell Energy is the first cab off the rank to land on our handheld devices. Dropping this week and written and directed by Ari Cagan, the man behind popular podcast Things You Don’t Need to Know, it’s the first Hollywood-heavyweight-produced series intending to make a big splash in the space. The satirical office comedy centres on a wealthy family who own an oil business, as they fumble though life, climate pressure and “battle against innovation, activists and each other as they destroy the planet to protect their own interests.” As McKay did with Don’t Look Up, the non-profit production studio is hoping to bring the climate emergency discussion to the platform in an entertaining and viral way. The series’ tagline? A fracking good time.
The 15-episode series has been shot vertically, specifically for its release across TikTok, Instagram and YouTube and will consist of weekly, short episodes just a few minutes long. According to interviews with Cagan, it’s designed to be all-killer-no-filler; and he has done this by removing scene-establishing shots and inserting dialogue that aims to make an impact on social media. Whether it is strong enough to go light up the comment section and go viral enough to be remixed and eventually make its way into everyday meme vernacular will be an interesting factor to watch.
While short-form series made by creators and media companies might not be a new thing, Hollywood-level productions made specifically for these platforms are—and this shift towards quality could start to change how we interact and value the content. And besides, is anyone else tired of being explained to with every swipe on TikTok? “Given that everything is coming to you in this stream, and it is so disposable, it’s really easy to get into the habit of thinking that you can just make something that doesn’t look very good or doesn’t sound very good,” Cagan told Wired. “I think people are a lot more likely to stay, even if it’s a little slower than somebody shouting at them immediately in the previous video.”