Type keyword(s) to search

Quick Hits

Netflix Taps Into DVD Commentary Nostalgia With Young Royals Forever

In the streaming age, behind-the-scenes specials are the closest thing fans have to DVD bonus features.
  • Edvin Ryberg and Omar Rudberg behind the scenes of Young Royals (Photo: Netflix)
    Edvin Ryberg and Omar Rudberg behind the scenes of Young Royals (Photo: Netflix)

    The year is 2005: You crack open a Sprite Tropical Remix, pop in your new Smallville Season 4 DVD, and sink into your big, comfy couch for the evening. You can’t wait to hear the director’s commentary on your favorite episodes and tune into that new featurette detailing all the inside secrets about Lois Lane’s casting. You press play and hear Miles Millar’s voice begin to narrate. Life is good.

    Sadly, in the current streaming age, DVD commentaries (and, well, DVDs in general) are largely a thing of the past. Long gone are the days when fans flocked to Best Buy to get their hands on the hottest new box set promising exclusive cast interviews, deleted scenes, and insights from the creators. But the decline of physical media doesn’t necessarily mean viewers will never get to experience anything like that again.

    Netflix has tapped into DVD nostalgia and tried to bring back the power of behind-the-scenes content with post-show documentaries like Young Royals Forever. Released alongside the series finale of Young Royals, the doc features insights from the cast and crew, and an inside look at everything from the casting process to filming the final episode. The Swedish teen drama, which premiered in 2021 and ran for three seasons, centers on the unlikely romance between Crown Prince Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding) and his classmate Simon (Omar Rudberg), and all of the drama and complications their relationship brings.

    Young Royals Forever is a nice bonus for fans who aren’t quite ready to say goodbye to the characters yet. “Any kind of ending feels strange,” Rudberg reflects during the documentary. “Because it’s not really their [Simon and Wilhelm’s] end.” Ryding agrees, adding that it’s more like they’re simply handing the characters over to “the audience’s imagination.” This kind of insight from the actors adds a personal touch to the viewing experience, not unlike the DVD commentary we once enjoyed. There’s something to be said for taking a beat to actually reflect on the story rather than just immediately moving on to the next title in the recommendation queue.

    This isn’t the first time Netflix has made a behind-the-scenes look. Another popular YA show, Ginny & Georgia (which premiered in 2021), had a similar special, Ginny & Georgia: The Afterparty, that was released simultaneously with Season 1. Like Young Royals Forever, it sees the cast and creatives recap the show’s biggest moments and weigh in with commentary and fun banter. While it’s impossible to say whether the special directly helped launch the show’s massive fanbase, Ginny & Georgia has definitely proved itself to be one of Netflix’s biggest successes.

    Disney+ has also shown a vested interest in producing this kind of bonus content. In 2020, the streamer launched Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, a docuseries about the making of the popular Star Wars show. There’s also High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: The Special, Andor: A Disney+ Day Special Look, and A Hero's Journey: The Making of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, to name a few. Marvel Studios: Assembled might be the streamer’s most ambitious docuseries — it goes behind the scenes of the entire MCU, featuring inside footage and conversations with creatives from hit shows like WandaVision, Loki, and Hawkeye. Considering that Disney has a long history of producing documentaries and specials about its own theme parks, this move seems only natural — the extra content feels like a callback to the days when Disney DVDs came with games, deleted scenes, and easter eggs.

    In a similar fashion, HBO has produced “Inside the Episode” specials for popular programming like Girls, Game of Thrones, and Succession. Hulu has also occasionally dipped its toes into this sort of bonus content, including releasing a “commentary cut” of Andy Samberg’s 2020 rom-com Palm Springs.

    DVD commentary was popular because it allowed us to spend time with the creatives behind our favorite media. Going behind the scenes built a sense of intimacy between fans and creators, like they were letting us in on something special. A deleted scene or director’s insight didn’t just feel like a bonus, but instead an exciting, juicy secret we were being trusted with. In other words, it felt personal.

    In a time when shorter episode counts and long waits between seasons are increasingly becoming the norm, it makes sense that fans would be interested in specials, like Young Royals Forever, that allow us to live in these worlds just a little longer. Sure, social media has made it easier than ever (perhaps too easy) for viewers to connect with actors and creators, but a quick Instagram photo on set doesn’t exactly compare to an extensive behind-the-scenes look.

    As Netflix continues to invest in its YA audience with titles like Heartstopper and My Life With the Walter Boys, it will be interesting to see if more teen dramas will get specials like Young Royals Forever. It’s also possible that the streamer could expand this trend into other genres. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll even get a Bridgerton docuseries.

    Young Royals Forever is streaming on Netflix alongside Seasons 1-3 of Young Royals. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Kelly Martinez is a TV Reporter based in Los Angeles. Her previous work can be found at BuzzFeed and People Magazine, among other outlets. She enjoys reading, spending time with her cat, and explaining the plot of Riverdale to people.

    TOPICS: Young Royals, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Young Royals Forever, Edvin Ryding, Omar Rudberg, Physical Media