The streaming landscape is a wide world of thousands of genres and niches. Did you know you can use codes to view all the secret Netflix genre categories? These include everything from “Kids' Faith & Spirituality” to “Satanic Stories.” It's easy to see that the range of interests of streaming viewers is quite eclectic.
Some of the trends we see on streaming services, like non-English original content and disability representation, are clearly positive. Some other trends, however, just downright make no sense. Some niche subcultures exceed the following in weirdness (I’d like to know who frequents the “Satanic Stories” category page!). However, you’ll see the subsequent streaming subcultures represented as soon as you scroll the homepage of any major platform. Here are some of the weirdest streaming subcultures popular on major streaming services.
Obsession With Royals
There’s “The Crown,” “Bridgerton,” “The Empress,” “Versailles,” and “The Great,” just to name a few. The next time I see a new show about royals, I might cancel my Netflix subscription. The general message from history class was that monarchy wasn’t a good system, which is why most countries with monarchies have largely retired them as figureheads in favor of modern democracy. Plus, the garden parties, who will marry who, and the pomp and circumstance are boring. It’s not much different than an obsession with the lives of modern celebrities, but several hundred years on, the enduring royal craze is pretty weird.
Rich People Doing Nothing
In a trend that started over a decade ago with “The Real Housewives” cable TV show franchise, we now have “Bling Empire,” “Dubai Bling, “ Singapore Social,” “Made in Mexico,” and “Young, Famous, & African” available on Netflix. It seems that rich people are doing nothing all over the world, and we want to know about it. These shows give some interesting insights into people’s lives worldwide, but generally, they don’t make much sense. However, whether it’s the aspirational aspect or the gossip, something about these shows leaves audiences wanting more.
Although it has become more widespread, anime is often pretty bizarre. Were you enjoying a cozy scene? Now here’s an unnecessarily long butt shot and a random cyberpunk tentacle monster. Crunchyroll is the largest streaming platform for all things anime, though Funimation used to be the go-to for English dubs until it merged with Crunchyroll. Anime plays with the boundaries of reality in ways that live-action can’t, which is weird in a good way. But also, even the biggest otaku will admit that anime has glaring problems, like the over-sexualization of children, representation of women, and diversity. While things are improving, we’ll have to cringe through a few more panty slips until the genre gets with the times.
In a surprising trend in the past few years, audiences are increasingly interested in getting smarter. Recently, docuseries have represented an unprecedented amount of playtime. Some of the most popular titles include “The Murdaugh Murders,” “3%,” “The Staircase,” and “Murder in Bighorn.” Documentary movies are growing, too, with seemingly every musician getting a biopic streaming deal. This is the perfect subculture for true-crime junkies and celebrity aficionados to get their content fix. There are also many popular science, nature, and history docuseries. While the sudden upturn in interest is a little weird, we hope this positive trend will continue.
Millennials and late Gen Xers are a big market for major streaming platforms, as evidenced by reboots like “Fuller House,” “How I Met Your Father,” “He’s All That,” and “Cobra Kai.” We know it won’t be as good as the original, but we still tune in to complain about it to other Millennials online. Nostalgia is a powerful and lucrative pull, and when done well, can produce brilliant original works like “Stranger Things.” However, these rare gems are the exception. For this subculture, all it takes is another gender-swapped reboot to get us to hand over our money.
Whether it's “The Mandalorian,” “The Rings of Power,” or “Westworld,” we just can’t get enough of our favorite franchises. Like nostalgic spinoffs, the glue that holds this subculture together is complaining about these series compared to the originals. This draws attention online, generating even more views for streaming platforms. With big money to make on popular franchises, this trend won’t go away anytime soon. It seems like a weird fixation when it’s not your favorite franchise, but you better believe I’ll be tuning in to complain about the new HBO Harry Potter series when it hits streaming services in the future.
In recent years, the release of “Shadow and Bone,” “The Magicians,” “His Dark Materials” on Max, “Enola Holmes,” and “The Sandman” have set the trend for streaming adaptations of Young Adult (YA) fantasy novels. YA stories are simple, popular, and, again, have a nostalgic pull for audiences Millennial and older. Maybe this subculture doesn’t seem that weird either, but you must not have seen a group of 40-year-old fantasy nerds getting heated about children’s stories or unwinding with a LARPing round at the renaissance festival. YA stories continue to provide prime content for adaptation, and the fantasy subculture far predates streaming services, so this is another trend that’s not going anywhere.