Can Nicole Kidman revive the episodic anthology series?

You probably wouldn’t know it, but the streaming era has also been a boon for the episodic anthology series. There have been a lot of them, and the reason you wouldn’t know is that very few people watch them. Did you know that BJ Novak released one titled The premise on Hulu last fall? Or that Brett Goldstein — Roy f**king Kent — co-wrote one a few years ago for AMC+ called Soulmates? (It wasn’t even bad). You will recall that CBS All Access – before being renamed Paramount – relaunched The twilight zone with Jordan Peele, but even that fizzled out after two lukewarm seasons. Amazon had modern love, which ran for two seasons, and it’s one of the most successful, which isn’t saying much. I also completely forgot that Apple TV+ had revived Steven Spielberg’s film amazing stories (DOA), but also launched Little America to rave reviews, but not much lasting buzz. Thrill brought back horror showand it’s done well thanks to airing on a specialized, niche streaming service with low expectations, but it’s not a big hit.

The thing is, everyone tried to replicate the success of black mirrorbut not even black mirrorThe last seasons of have duplicated the success of the previous ones. I don’t know why the episodic anthology series doesn’t work for everyone, but personally I just don’t like the short story format: high concepts and fine twists, but very little in terms of character development.

Apple TV+ is going to give it another shot, and it’s another star-studded episodic anthology series. In Roar from GLOW writers Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, they managed to land two players from GLOW in Betty Gilpin and Alison Brie, as well as Nicole Kidman, Merritt Wever, Issa Rae, Jake Johnson, Daniel Dae Kim and Cynthia Erivo, among others. There’s no shortage of inventive ideas either: Betty Gilpin plays a wife whose husband builds a bookshelf for display; Issa Rae appears to be playing a black woman that white men can’t hear; Nicole Kidman eats photographs; Meera Syal takes her husband back to the store; and Alison Brie plays a ghost who solves her own murder.

Interesting stories. Great cast. Talented writers. But will anyone be watching?

The eight episodes of Roar will be presented on April 15.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You can email him here, follow him on Twitteror listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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