These reboots are getting out of control. The latest TV show to get rebooted is Peep Show, with a twist: women will star as the lead characters, instead of David Mitchell and Robert Webb. US remakes of UK comedies haven’t been known to succeed, with The Office being the lone exception.
Then there’s all the live-action remakes of classic animated Disney films. Since 2010’s Alice in Wonderland, Disney has released seven remakes, nine if you include Maleficent and Christopher Robin. Plus, nine more are in the works: The Lion King, a Maleficent sequel, Lady and the Tramp, Mulan, and several others.
I already know why studios are rebooting everything – because reboots make money – but knowing why doesn’t make me feel any better about it.
In the case of animated Disney classics, some things just work better in animated form, and if the reboots are following the same story as the original, what exactly are they bringing to the table, creativity-wise?
As for reboots like the all-female Ghostbusters, I understand the rationale behind them, and they’re different enough from the originals that they don’t feel completely pointless. In the case of Ghostbusters, it introduced the franchise to a new generation, and featured women in roles women don’t often get to play.
But I just don’t feel the same way about shot-for-shot reboots like the ones Disney is producing. Several classic TV shows have also been rebooted recently, with Charmed failing to make waves, Heathers and Roseanne seemingly existing only to cause controversy, and Murphy Brown getting cancelled after one season.
Meanwhile, an example of a reboot that makes sense is Queer Eye. Since it’s a reality show, there’s no narrative to rehash, and there’s endless material to work with – there will always be people in need of makeovers. Plus, the new Fab 5 have taken the old categories and put their own spin on them, and they quickly captured the hearts of audiences around the world.
But so many of these reboots aren’t offering audiences anything new. You can get virtually the same experience from staying home and watching the original movie on VHS, and you’ll save money in the process.
I realise that I’m most likely not the target audience for a lot of these reboots, although nostalgia is a powerful motivator. In the case of the Disney reboots, kids are the primary audience. But wouldn’t kids rather watch The Lion King as an animated feature rather than something with creepy, sickly-looking Scar and hyper-realistic Pumbaa?
Surely if kids want realism from their lion-based Shakespeare adaptations, they can watch David Attenborough documentaries?
Reboots just feel incredibly lazy, and safe – these stories are already beloved, so people will watch them, and want to take their kids to see them. While there is a nice element of being able to share your childhood favourites with your kids, you don’t need a reboot to make that happen.
I also worry that in pouring all of this money into reboots, studios could be ignoring some amazing original ideas. Think of the original and wonderfully diverse things we’ve seen in the past few years: Crazy Rich Asians, Vida, Tuca & Bertie, Jane the Virgin, Killing Eve, The Society, On My Block, Shrill, Eighth Grade, Get Out. How many amazing projects are being overlooked in favour of reboots that allow studios to play it safe?