Branding Netflix with nostalgia: totemic nostalgia, adaptation, and the postmodern turn

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

This chapter explores the structural underpinnings of the nostalgic narrative trend in contemporary society, especially as present in Netflix. Netflix Originals presents the streaming service an opportunity to root its programming in a highly affective and emotional frame, connecting viewers longing for the perceived stability of the past (while faced with social change) with the Netflix brand. The continuing of programs with a dedicated audience further reinforces this, and the creation of continuation of such series, such as Fuller House and the highly successful The Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life increasingly ties this affect to the brand. This paper will look specifically at Stranger Things and GLOW, both Netflix Original programming, and the CW series Riverdale, which is distributed globally by Netflix, and consider their use of setting, tone, and elements of adaptation theory to explain the construction of their nostalgic narratives. Each of them builds on William Proctor’s notion of totemic nostalgia, which ties the fans’ self-narrative to an object of fandom, and this paper demonstrates how each, through connections with 80s gothic film traditions (Stranger Things), 80s depictions of Hollywood (GLOW), and the adaptation of the Archie TV and movie franchises (themselves adaptations of the comics) from the 1970s (Riverdale), activate a sense of belonging through its appeal to nostalgia. They each, as I argue the Netflix brand itself does through these series, roots its appeal in the nostalgic narrative, while also providing new takes in line with contemporary audiences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNetflix nostalgia : streaming the past on demand
EditorsKathryn Pallister
Place of publicationLanham, MD
PublisherLexington Books
Publication year2019
ISBN (print)9781498583053
ISBN (Electronic)9781498583060
Publication statusPublished - 2019
SeriesRemakes, Reboots, and Adaptations

    Research areas

  • Nostalgia, Netflix, Adaptation, postmodern, TV studies

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