This week, Netflix TV shows keep getting weird. Yes — the house that brought us not one but two seasons of Sexy Beasts, the dating show that uses monster cosplay to try to mask the superficial nature of courtship — continues to dive down the rabbit hole.
No, I’m not talking about The Ultimatum or a surprise Love Is Blind Season 3 drop. I’m talking about the fact that Netflix’s latest reality show is what happens when someone toss around the idea “let’s turn this meme into a show!” ”
And this time, we’re talking about cake. Or rather a cake that doesn’t look like a cake. Yes, because everyone remembers it – and all the people who could never shout “oh, what the hell!?” — Netflix presents Is It Cake?
And that leaves me sitting here thinking “Am I really paying for this?” After canceling Netflix in February and returning to Netflix 10 days ago, I feel like throwing my remote out the window in frustration.
Is it Netflix cake? makes me reconsider returning to Netflix
Much like the desserts on Is It Cake?, I now watch Netflix and think “Is this for me?” The answer, more and more, seems to be “sometimes”.
Because this show looks like a big-budget Saturday Night Live skit, right down to Mr. Day as host — you can judge for yourself by watching the trailer below. As someone who only watches SNL when a musical guest or host interests me (and doesn’t do reality TV), this isn’t my thing:
But it reminds me of all the shows we all wished we had more seasons, only to end up on Netflix’s big list of canceled shows. Glow season 4, for example, would be a very good thing to have – as the season 3 finale left the door open for a very interesting change of pace, with Debbie finally taking the show to a new network.
You might not like Glow, but you probably have a Netflix show you wish you had another season. A colleague of mine, I’m sure, would nominate Dark for this list.
This brings me back to something my mom reminded me of: Netflix just raised prices. She saw the news in a message on her TV screen when she logged on to Netflix. But that’s a story for another day. I’m just thinking about how Netflix now costs me $19.99 a month for Ultra HD (what, am I supposed to watch 1080p shows on my LG OLED 4K TV?). Yes, this TV wasn’t cheap, but since I can get Apple TV Plus and HBO Max for the same price, I just feel like I should get the same kind of value back.
I have definitely become more price conscious. And how could I not? These days, I almost feel like every person I interact with financially is giving me the wrong end of the stick. This led me to start a diary or to know what content I consume and on what services I watch these shows. And to add that Netflix price hike (Netflix 4K is $2 more than before) and the arrival of the least essential show of all time with Is It Cake? Well, this all sounds like a fortuitous 3 punch combo.
Why can’t I stop? Well, Netflix has two shows I want to watch right now. Last week and weekend I watched Better Call Saul seasons 2 and 3 in a stunning clip, using a rare weekday and weekend day where I was supposed to have plans (which happen to be collapsed, as things do). I’m watching Season 4 this week and Better Call Saul Season 5 is coming to Netflix in early April. In between those seasons, I’m going to start the other show I want to watch, Formula 1: Drive to Survive.
Yes – racing docu-series about European motorsport, which The Atlantic’s Amanda Mull says are a gateway drug to actually watching live F1 streams – have been on my radar for some time now. And with the new season starting this weekend, and I’ve been curious.
But what appeals to me is Netflix becoming a service where I might have two shows I want to watch in about a month. Maybe I’ll cancel again, I’m not sure. But it’s not hard to see why Is It Cake? has passed.
Why does Netflix make shows like Is It Cake?
I’m fully aware of why Netflix is doing this, for what it’s worth. First, shows like Is It Cake? are cheap compared to your average scripted series. Especially one in his later seasons, when talents are able to demand higher salaries.
So it’s not like Netflix could just as easily swap Is It Cake? for Glow season 4, or whatever. But my lizard brain (the part of my mind that doesn’t think so critically) often throws up a sulky emoji when I see yet another thing from Netflix that doesn’t match the old Netflix, which brought together a big TV of prestige.
If Netflix wasn’t making so many of these weird and absurd shows, maybe it could find a budget for a Good Girls return. That said, I don’t think the big red streaming machine cares about my logic: Netflix is trying to get a bigger budget by cracking down on account sharing.
Second, as I wrote about last summer, Netflix seems to have a “let’s be weird” strategy on its hands to compete with all the reality TV and cable TV. This is how we see the network ramping up, from Love Is Blind to The Ultimatum, putting couples in increasingly dire situations.
Netflix hopes to live in the background, but likely knows its price hikes will raise questions. ComScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian often told me that people see Netflix as a service close to running water. Its shows, such as the rare Squid Game, are the talk of the town, and friends tell me that even if they’re thinking about canceling Netflix, they’re too lazy to do so. And when Netflix is the “something for everyone, and they mean everybody” service, it is not difficult to understand the decision.
Thank the streaming gods, though, that Netflix is a monthly service. Gone are the days of annual contracts, and here comes the time when you can drop and add streaming services on a whim. I’m watching mid-April for my next farewell and wondering how Netflix plans to surprise me.