Netflix’s latest sitcom Blockbuster offers a window into the time-capsule that is a dying video rental store. But many of its intended audience believe it should have been left buried in 2014.
The eight-part series follows Timmy Yoon (Randall Park), who is described as an “analogue dreamer living in a 5G world” and who is the owner of the last Blockbuster Video store in America.
In the fight to stay open (and relevant) the cast of six staff, including Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Melissa Fumero who plays Timmy’s long-time crush, Eliza, and local store owners vie to establish “human connection”.
Yet the characters have struggled to build that kinship with their viewers. With an audience score of 51 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, and a critics rating of 24 per cent, the show has not received the warmest reception.
The biggest critics are not among the Gen-Z audience who don’t understand the gamble of choosing from what’s left at a bricks and mortar store or the shame of a late return – but those who hold memories of the physical rental era and haven’t seen it reflected on screen.
Ex-Blockbuster staff member Henry Gilbert said: “Don’t mourn the old Blockbuster in your neighbourhood that closed years ago, cry for the amazing independent rental store with cool obscurities.”
Blockbuster drove my childhood favorite Korean-owned video store out of business, and then proceeded to dedicate entire walls of their stock to The Last Samurai. That visual is burned into my brain and sums up everything I hated about that place. https://t.co/JRhqgZu2rf
— Kaelan Ramos (@KaelanRamos) November 3, 2022
User Kaelan Ramos tweeted: “Blockbuster drove my childhood favorite Korean-owned video store out of business, and then proceeded to dedicate entire walls of their stock to The Last Samurai. That visual is burned into my brain and sums up everything I hated about that place.”
And others have been offput by the cruel irony of Netflix producing the series supposedly celebrating its life, as the streaming giant played a crucial role in its downfall.
One user said: “Wait…Netflix…NETFLIX, is making a Blockbuster TV show?
“That feels like the murderer returning to the scene of the crime to dance on the grave doesn’t it?”
Netflix making a TV show about blockbuster is straight up bullying. It’s like if a meteor directed Jurassic Park.
— Samantha Ruddy (@samlymatters) November 3, 2022
While another user added: “Netflix making a TV show about Blockbuster is straight up bullying.
“It’s like if a meteor directed Jurassic Park.”
As is acknowledged in the first episode, the rise of streaming platforms such as Netflix was a major factor in the decline of the DVD rental market. So, it looks as if Netflix’s attempt at nostalgia may have missed this time around – maybe because it’s quite happy with the way things turned out.