Opinion | Please make original movies and TV shows again

By Rachel Soloff, Opinions Editor

For the first time in six years, all four acting awards went to actors who played original characters. This means these characters were created for the first time for the films they were in — no biopics like “Elvis” or characters from adaptations won any of the major awards. And this is a good thing.

Hollywood has gotten lazy. It seems like every new television show or movie is telling a story we have all already heard. While there is an opportunity to make these rebooted characters tell new stories and biopics can allow us to look at someone from a different angle, the latest reboots and biopics bring nothing new to the table.

What I love so much about film and television is how these mediums have the opportunity to show us something different. Some of my favorite movies of the last few years, such as the Oscar-winner “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” have expanded this love. Television shows such as “Fleabag” have shown me original characters and stories that have made me excited to watch TV again. I can’t say the same for the reboots and biopics, though.

While “Elvis” was definitely an enjoyable movie, with its remixes of beloved Elvis songs and a strikingly good performance from Austin Butler as Elvis, couldn’t we have told a new story? This year’s “Elvis” movie was one of 15 biopics about the singer — aren’t we done making movies about him now? 

This is not to say that the biopic is an unnecessary genre — one of my favorite movies of all time is “Love & Mercy,” the biopic about the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. However, there is a problem when the film industry leans on the reliability of a familiar subject rather than gambling on a new one. Because people know the main character at the center of a biopic, they are more willing to go out and watch the film rather than risk seeing something new they may not like — but the risk is the best part.

Walking into the theater for “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” I had no idea what to expect. I knew the movie was vaguely sci-fi and Jamie Lee Curtis was in it — that was about it — but that was exciting to me. The movie made me cry and laugh, but ultimately what I loved the most about it was that it was original. I have never seen any movie with that kind of story, editing and directing — and I doubt I will again. A24 took a risk by producing a movie as out there as “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” but the risk was ultimately worth it. Other production companies need to have the willingness to take a risk — that is how the film industry will survive. 

Television is the worst offender of reboots. Similar to the biopic, reboots offer viewers the same characters that they have seen before and therefore feel safe to watch the new show. Oftentimes this is for nostalgia’s sake — rebooting older shows for a newer audience feels much safer to television producers than rolling the dice on new intellectual property.

I am an avid binge-watcher of “That ‘70s Show,” and so when the Netflix reboot “That ‘90s Show” came out, I of course had to watch the whole thing in one sitting. This is not to say “That ‘70s Show” is a perfect show — there are definitely some parts that have not aged well — however, it made the reboot look like garbage in comparison. The reason why “That ‘70s Show” is so likable is because the dynamics of the characters and the specific setting of the 1970s make it different from other shows out there. The reboot tries too hard to replicate this, placing new characters in the 1990’s that have loose connections to the old ones — and it doesn’t work.

The main characters in “That ‘90s Show,” are unlikable, and their dynamics feel forced. Additionally, the show tries to draw in viewers by having cameos from the original cast to satisfy the nostalgia-hungry viewers. Just because we see Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis as Kelso and Jackie pop in doesn’t make the show likable — it makes it lazy.

It’s frustrating that reboots and biopics take the space and funding away from newer projects with newer characters. It’s even more frustrating that Hollywood sees its viewers as too stupid to have any interest in anything we haven’t already seen. Some of the most popular shows of the last few years — particularly on networks such as HBO that take the gamble and produce new shows — are original. Shows like “Succession” and “Barry” have taken the world by storm because they are new, they are smart and they are, most importantly, original.

I am sick of this perception that people need dumb TV or that networks need to force feed audiences with the same old people and plotlines. In other forms of art, such as visual art and music, overt copying or repurposing is frowned upon — so why should we accept it in our television and movies? We need to see newness in order to fully expand the bounds of art. Biopics and reboots offer nothing new and audiences should not accept this. Stagnation and lack of creativity will kill Hollywood — taking risks will save it. 


Rachel Soloff writes primarily about the entertainment industry and how lame antisemites are. Write to her at [email protected].