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Netflix seems to have a "figure it out" approach to fantasy and science fiction dramas

  • Shows like Shadow and Bone and The Witcher appear to be intentionally confusing. "This has become something of a calling card for Netflix as it continues to expand its output in certain genres," says Miles Surrey. "Not that a company like Netflix, with its fingers in so many different types of programming, has one unifying strategy, but when it comes to fantasy and science fiction, the goal seems to be making shows 'for real heads only.' These are shows where attention to detail and faithfulness matters more than simplifying things in order to reach the widest possible audience. Shadow and Bone, confusing as it may be in moments, feels like a cakewalk compared to The Witcher, a fantasy series that’s disorienting as all hell even before it becomes apparent that it’s juggling multiple timelines. (Not helping matters is that some of the Witcher characters, including its titular Witcher, don’t age across decades.) But with The Witcher, the absurdity is part of the appeal, especially when it’s delivered with batshit conviction by Henry Cavill in a wig grunting and muttering 'f*ck' to himself as he travels through a realm littered with otherworldly monsters and, at one point, a golden dragon communicating telepathically with a British accent. Shows like The Witcher or Shadow and Bone remain accessible so long as the viewer is willing to soak in their meticulous fantasy worlds like a sponge and accept that they might never grasp every detail within. Initial bewilderment is part of the experience—and soon, that bewilderment gives way to discovery. Unlike a series like Westworld, where obfuscation is embedded into the show’s mystery-box DNA, these Netflix fantasy shows reward a viewer putting effort into the immersive experience."

    TOPICS: Shadow and Bone, Netflix, The Witcher