The Netflix documentary house style: Streaming TV and slow media

Daniel Binns

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Streaming services have significantly changed the way that films and TV series are produced and received. The full effects of these changes have yet to be seen, but this article offers an inquiry and critical analysis of some of these changes as they pertain to stand-alone and serial documentaries produced by Netflix. This article contends that there is an emergent “house style” for Netflix original content, particularly documentary, that is in part dictated by platform constraints, but also by an adherence to the principles of Slow Media. To demonstrate, I observe a couple of key moments episodes of Chef’s Table (2015-) and Shot in the Dark (2017-), as well as the feature-length documentary The Ivory Game (2016). The findings of the article suggest that the consumption of on-demand content – and more specifically its being chosen by the viewer, rather than observed in the flow of network-era television – affords producers certain concessions around the choices they make. In the examples discussed, there is a clear focus on quality and high production values, bringing Netflix-produced content in line with the tenets of the Slow Media movement.


Documentary; Netflix; Streaming Services; Textual Analysis; Television Studies; Internet Television

To cite this article

Binns, Daniel. “The Netflix Documentary House Style: Streaming TV and Slow Media.” Fusion Journal, no. 14, 2018, pp. 60-71.

First published online: December 2018

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