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The End of Hollywood’s Reign: Who Will Be The New Titans of TV?

The rest of the world is cinematically swinging on Hollywood (and Hollywood is sucker-punching itself too).

Yellow and blue graffiti that says "Hollywood" is scribbled on the side of a building
Credit: Shutterstock

In the past decade, TV shows and films coming from outside of the U.S. have taken the world by storm…and Hollywood is being blown away. From all corners of the world, whether London, Seoul, Berlin, or beyond, we have seen some truly monumental things hit the screens-and we’ve seen Hollywood flop harder than anyone thought was possible.

What Shows Are We Talking About Here? 

It’s difficult to say when exactly this shift started. It could’ve been BBC’s Peaky Blinders or it could’ve been Netflix Korea’s mainstream monster, Squid Game (and yes, I know Netflix is technically American, but the show isn’t–sue me). Regardless of where we started or when, we know where we are now, and that is clutching our hypothetical passports waiting for the next story to whisk us away in a way that Hollywood fails to do nowadays. 

The romance genre seems to be leading the charge in terms of garnering buzz for Team Not-Hollywood. Maxton Hall, The Tearsmith, My Fault, and One Day are among the big names that have gotten the attention of audiences just in the last year. 

These shows had the internet swooning for weeks after their respective releases. The plots threw in some classic romance tropes mixed with some fresh twists. Not to mention, the chemistry between the actors is something we have seen dwindling within mainstream Hollywood–these shows made the masses feel something (finally).

Speaking of romance, with the resurrection of Bridgerton in the past few weeks, attention has gone to some of Nicola Coughlan’s other works, including her role as the flighty “wee lesbian,” Claire Devlin, in the Channel 4 comedy, Derry Girls.

A young, blond white girl with blunt bangs, wearing a green school uniform smiles broadly.
Nicola Coughlan as Claire Devlin in “Derry Girls.” Credit: Channel 4/Netflix

The sleeper hit that follows a group of teenage friends navigating daily life during The Troubles era in 1990 Northern Ireland gained a dedicated following when it aired in 2018 and has grown tenfold since then. It marks another frontrunner in the rise of Not-Hollywood’s glory.

Among other heavyweight shows that have been coming in hot, Money Heist, Elite, The Glory, and the Academy Award-winning Parasite have become notable on the global stage in the past few years. Amongst others, of course—many others.

So, what is it that makes these global Not-Hollywood hits so much better than the works of Tinseltown itself? Let us ponder.

The Special Sauce

Audiences seem to enjoy the details of the plotlines that seem to be lacking in Hollywood. For example, it is common for K-Dramas to have anywhere from 16-20, nearly hour-long episodes. 

They also comb through the details better. Rather than rushing from action point to action point, it seems as though the Korean film and television scene understand the meaning of slowing down and allowing the story to speak for itself.

It’s also exciting being exposed to new culture and language–something about it makes it feel human. You get to see people, who in many ways are very different from yourself, tell these stories of drama, heartbreak, comedy, and so on. Despite the barriers, you laugh, cry, and sit on the edge of your seats together. There’s something profoundly beautiful within that.

Another point that fans bring up: it’s refreshing to see different actors. People’s interest has been piqued by the stories, of course. But the talented actors who are finally getting their time in the spotlight have a huge role to play too.

Damian Hardung (Maxton Hall), Harriet Herbig-Matten (Maxton Hall), Jung Hoyeon (Squid Game), and Ambika Mod (One Day) are some of the refreshing faces that have catapulted themselves and the shows they star in to the top (just look at the edits on Tiktok and you’ll see the obsession).

Two young people stand face to face, but look toward the camera. One is a white boy with blonde hair, the other is a white girl with brown hair. Both are wearing preppy school clothes.
Damian Hardung and Harriet Herbig-Matten in “Maxton Hall.” Credit: Prime Video

Since Hollywood has been the leader in film and TV for decades, it makes sense that the mainstream gets a little bit repetitive. Especially in an era where “keeping it on trend” is everything.

Same plots, same actors, same old-same old. Everybody has a niche, and we see the revolving door of things that come and go and come back again…it’s very…safe. But some of the best films and shows come from taking risks. Something the rest of the world is taking in stride…and also something Hollywood is majorly fumbling nowadays.

Sequels, Spin-offs, and Remakes

Let’s talk about the tidal wave of sequels, spin-offs, and remakes we have been drowning in for the past few years. This is mostly a blockbuster problem; think The Fast and The Furious, Planet of The Apes, and Indiana Jones, among others. Can we please let these franchises rest? For many of these, they start off as interesting concepts, become well-done films, and capture the imaginations of audiences around the world. Then they get run straight into the ground by studios trying to milk them for money.

Don’t get me wrong, some stories have very well done sequels and spin-offs. The Hunger Games or Game of Thrones are some that haven’t been overdone. The studios keep trying to tell a story that should’ve ended several films ago. Eventually, these films and shows make it to the point where the original plot is long gone. (How did Vin Diesel go from street racing to being borderline superhuman?).

A tough-looking mand wearing a purple button down shirt gloats to somebody as many others point guns over his shoulders towards the person he talks to.
Jason Momoa in “Fast X,” the tenth installment of the “Fast and Furious” franchise. Credit: Official “Fast X” YouTube trailer/Universal

Hollywood’s Greedy

Since streaming’s big takeover, it seems as though the greed of Hollywood has increased tenfold. Tech companies disguised as movie studios may be the more appropriate way to describe the situation.

With this, we have seen the cancellation of massive amounts of original shows after one or two seasons if they don’t make big money immediately. There is little to no room for growth anymore.

If we look at Game of Thrones, considered one of the best shows of all time, it didn’t shine in popularity until after season 3. (The Red Wedding got everybody’s attention IYKYK). 

But in a time where everything is immediate, and attention spans are shorter than ever, shows just aren’t given the same time to marinate nowadays (and cooking without seasoning is no good).

Speaking of not cooking, let’s talk about costumes, hair/makeup, and set design taking a turn for the worse. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the people who work on these various pieces of film sets. It’s more to do with cheapo studios wanting to pinch pennies as much as possible.

When you rush and cut corners on spending, it’s only natural that the end result suffers…and it shows. 

A white woman wears a blue dress and a big, white, poorly done wig. She sips from a golden challis.
Wig of Princess Rhaenys in “House of the Dragon.” Credit: HBO Max

The Plastics

We’ve already touched on the fact that Hollywood is a big fan of the reduce, reuse, recycle technique, at least when it comes to their productions and actors. (Seriously, why does it feel like I have seen Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt in nearly every mainstream movie that has hit the market recently? It feels like I’m stuck in a loop).

But I want to touch on another little detail that has become very…noticeable in the past few years. Of course, I’m talking about plastic surgery. The good old-fashioned nip and tuck. I am all for getting work done if that’s what makes you feel the best about yourself. However, when you’re playing a character from pre-plastic surgery times, and you have a smartphone face, we’ve got a problem.

Why are so many actors playing teenage or post-apocalyptic characters when they have a mouth full of crazy white veneers and a bunch of filler? It’s very disturbing that we’re sending the message to the world that teenagers are supposed to look like they have a beauty filter permanently stapled to their faces. And that the complete decimation of the world still wouldn’t be enough for beauty standards to die. (It’s like trying to kill a roach).

A young woman with dark hair wears a blue and white shirt and smiles in a smokey bar.
Camila Morrone has a “smartphone face” and stars in the 70’s based show “Daisy Jones and The Six.” Credit: Prime Video

R.I.P Media Literacy (if you were ever there)

The last piece of this depressingly large puzzle is the fact that the scripts aren’t as clever anymore. I have a theory that this could have to do with the fact that literacy rates are dwindling. Over half of all American adults cannot read above a middle school level. This means that there’s a chance that the people writing could have severely lacking skills, and so could the audiences.

This is unfortunate (and terrifying) for many reasons outside of the dumbing-down of art and media. But let’s be honest: The dumbing-down of art and media is devastating. Everything needs to be explicitly spelled out, and it ruins the magic and mystery of these stories. What’s the fun in being told point-blank the hidden details and plot twists? BOOOORING. At this point, I’d feel more excited to read an instruction manual.

What Could Come Out of This Monumental Hollywood Flop Era?

With the disconnect between studios and audiences bigger than ever, Hollywood is bleeding. Films are performing poorly at the box office. People are canceling their streaming subscriptions. Everything that we were told was going to revolutionize film, and TV has dropped a catastrophic bomb on the industry.

The writing is on the wall.

The one silver lining that could come out of this is the potential for an indie film revolution. Maybe this period of struggle will bring back the art of cinema. Maybe Hollywood will take some notes from everybody else’s success (though I doubt it).

With any luck this will eventually be a wake-up call for Hollywood to start listening to what audiences want. Fresh actors, original stories, risk-taking, something-anything new and exciting (though I doubt they’ll take notes from this either).

Hollywood can try to scratch and cling onto its former glory all it wants to. Meanwhile, I’ll be taking a metaphorical trip around the world to see the finer things cinema has to offer. Maybe I’ll see you all there.

Written By

English, Business, & Film student at Michigan State University

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