The latest entry in Netflix's year-long attack of original programming, the prison dramedy Orange is the New Black, hasn't even premiered yet, but the extremely aggressive streaming service has already ordered a second season—yet another sign of confidence as Netflix continues to double down heading into Emmy season and the development of over 300 hours of children's programming and at least one more big new hour-long blockbuster of its own.
Orange, which is based on a memoir and comes from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, debuts its whole season all at once on July 11 but remains something of a mystery. The show's trailer had promise, though it's unclear whether it will gain close to the same traction as House of Cards, which returned on every bit of Netflix's $100 million gamble, or Arrested Development, which had a built-in audience for its own funny prison antics this Spring. Clearly, Netflix thinks they have something with Orange—and this time it's less about buzz or celebrities or fan bases and more about faith in quality programming, and a stacked lineup... of binge-watching dumps rather than on schedule, but still, that's kind of the whole point.
Netflix isn't so confident with all of their new series, even as it continues to roll them out and extend their runs. Horror series Hemlock Grove premiered in April, but it's second season was just announced last week. Unlike Cards, which was critically praised, Hemlock Grove got panned. But the company, in one its always vague ratings-style references, touted higher early viewership for Hemlock over Cards, implying that regardless of what critics say, Netflix series have a built-in audience now—just because they're on Netflix, which has quickly, finally become just as much a nouveau network as an on-demand service. Turns out people Netflix thinks people will watch pretty much anything new that Netflix puts in front of them; and they are banking on it.
And Netflix's next next big show, on the House of Cards level of hype and big-budget risk, has a built-in curiosity value: the company recruited the the Wachowskis for Sense8, which is due for a binge-watching dump next year. And Netflix is ready to test its successful formula on kids with a new DreamWorks Animation deal. The biggest test of Netflix's longevity and network-style legitimacy, though, will be the second season of House of Cards, which is filming right now as the show wages a fight of its own. Indeed, perhaps the biggest question as this year's Emmy race heats up is whether or not Netflix will gets its due in nominations. The company almost didn't send out screeners, but is now heavily campaigning with House of Cards BBQ and lawn signs. In what The Wrap's Tim Molloy billed as vote of confidence to Netflix and its biggest series, House of Cards star Kate Mara was tapped to announce the nominees July 18.
But Orange is the New Black is a statement—a presumptive one, based on big hits that weren't even supposed to be that big—that Netflix believes in their prestige programming. Unlike Hemlock Grove, the new show won't be a genre piece. It'll just be a cable-style show from a cable-tested showrunner. And Netflix thinks you'll want more, regardless of what the Academy might say.
- Arts & Entertainment