Caroline’s Look: How Streaming Services Impact Fandom Culture


Emmy Gelhausen

Netflix has over 182.8 million subscribers, according to New York Times.

Caroline Look, Editor-in-Chief

As a senior, I have noticed certain traits about our school. A prominent one on my mental list is the simple fact that I cannot go through a week of school without seeing at least one “Friends” or “The Office” shirt. 

When we are able to be in person again, please test this out for yourself. While in the halls, make note of what graphic tees kids are wearing. You may find a trend in the results. That trend? Every one of the shirts is from a franchise or series which aired /premiered at least a decade ago, if not more. 

“Friends” started in 1994 and ended in 2004, meaning a lot of kids at North weren’t even alive when it ended, yet they are still wearing “Friends” themed merchandise. “The Office” began in 2005 and ended in 2013. Although the gap between the ages of high schoolers and the show air date isn’t as large in “The Office” as it is “Friends,” it is still a substantial gap. 

I think the reason for this resurgence is streaming services. Sites like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime serve as time capsules for these shows, which, for shows like “Friends,” are relics of their time. 

In the past–or so I’m told–you used to have to wait for a certain time and day in order to watch your favorite show, and that’s even when the show is in season. When it is between seasons, you could hopefully watch reruns or purchase a box set DVD. Now, with these streaming services, we can watch any episode we want from any show we want from the service’s repertoire. 

Like I touched on earlier, this changed the way fandoms–or a group of people who are fans of the same thing–operate. People are being reintroduced to shows and movies which were made decades before, and I think that’s beautiful. 

Funko pop figures are a popular way people show their love and support for a fandom. (Caroline Look)

These shows and movies have taken on a new life, impacting yet another generation of people. The shows and movies which find their ways onto these sites are going to be more influential than the unlucky ones which didn’t. I doubt “The Office” would be as popular with teenagers if it wasn’t on Netflix. Sure, it would still have fans, but probably not as many. 

This trend also impacts how the public perceives shows which may not have been liked in their time. Shows like “Freaks and Geeks,” “The Carrie Diaries” and “Hannibal” all had few seasons, but since being added to Netflix, they have been introduced to new people and more people have joined the fandom.

Like I said earlier, I think this process is really cool. It is changing the way we look at media. It is changing which shows stay in the public consciousness and which are lost to time.