Opinions, Column

Let’s Stop Remaking Shows

Growing up before the era of streaming, I remember keeping a specific schedule of when my favorite shows would air on television.

At 4:30 p.m. every day, I would throw myself onto my mini, Dora-themed sofa with a bowl of grapes to watch Avatar: The Last Airbender. This was my favorite show of all time. It made the impossible seem possible and provided just the right mix of comedy and action. 

So when I heard Netflix was recreating this Nickelodeon classic, I was ecstatic. At a time in my adult life when I felt pulled down by stresses of the future, a new version of my comfort show seemed like a great way to distract myself.

But the remake did not live up to my expectations. Although better than the 2010 movie attempt, the show left a bad taste in my mouth. Its excessive use of green screens was blatantly obvious, making it impossible to truly immerse in the show’s setting. The acting, on the other hand, was too exaggerated to feel authentic. Overall, the show tried too hard to live up to the original. 

Although I applaud the attempt, it would have been better to let the original stand alone. Creating a show that is supposed to draw the same childhood bliss as the original for a new generation is a huge undertaking. In my opinion, such an effort is better suited for creating new TV show concepts.

The idea of remaking shows or creating new spinoffs to old shows is nothing novel. The new iCarly, That ’90s Show, and Gossip Girl are just a few of Hollywood’s attempts to access a customer base without innovating. The argument for remakes is that it adds to beloved storylines—almost like publishing another book in a series—but most of the time, these original shows already had memorable endings. Why disrupt their beloved conclusions just to make a bad remake?

A prime example of this is HBO’s Gossip Girl. The show’s original ending showed a new student continue the legacy of Gossip Girl, but the remake shifted the power to a group of teachers who terrorize their students. 

The whole point of Gossip Girl is that the teens characters are overly engrossed in each other’s lives and use Gossip Girl as a mechanism to expose one another’s secrets. By making the teachers perpetrators of the drama, the show shifted from entertaining to disturbing.

Instead of trying to gain success from once-successful TV shows, Hollywood should look to fund new creators from diverse backgrounds. The larger the pool of creators and producers, the more possibilities there are for timeless shows that can teach audiences something new about themselves.

Having watched the original Avatar, the remake didn’t add anything new. It didn’t make me see the world in a new light or teach me something about myself. It was just a remake, sucking meaning from the original.

Some people think remakes are necessary to connect with a new generation of audiences, but I would argue that new generations of audiences require a new generation of shows. Producers shouldn’t being asking tales can create a quick spike of cash, but rather ask: what story hasn’t been told yet? 

March 11, 2024