Apple Bets On Family-Friendly Shows Rather Than Edgy Original Programming: Is This The Right Move?


What do breasts, nudity, violence, genitalia, and sex have in common? They're all commonplace in HBO. Netflix, too. Amazon Video? Yep. Maybe even Hulu. Apple, however, wants to have none of that in its upcoming video streaming service. It's taking a different route: It wants to produce shows that are safe enough to play at Apple Stores.

That means on Apple TV's initial lineup, there'll be no programs in the same vein as Game of Thrones, Girls, Sense8, and many others that feature several instances of naked characters, sexual intercourse, and many other mature themes.

Apple: No Nudity, Violence In Our Original Shows For Now

Why? No one really knows exactly. But as Bloomberg notes, the secretive Cupertino tech firm rarely says a lot about its plans. It's not even certain whether this new streaming service is for everyone or just Apple users only. What about subscription prices? Rollout? Forget it. But recent weeks find Apple rubbing elbows with producers, filmmakers, and Hollywood executives in preparation for the launch of its own service akin to Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu.

Akin, however, may be an inaccurate word. As first reported by Bloomberg, Apple is apparently not interested in making controversial, challenging, and compelling shows — at least not yet. It wants to create a few projects for people with an Apple device first; projects that can be safely played inside Apple Stores, because "top executives don't want kids catching a stray nipple."

In fact, the first few shows must all be like that — safe. Apple wants to make comedies and dramas that have near-universal appeal, perhaps similar to tearjerker This Is Us from NBC, or family shows. Creators pitching more edgier concepts, such as a miniseries by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón, have been turned down.

As such, Apple has greenlit a remake of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories with NBCUniversal. There are also plans for a show about morning TV show hosts with Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston in talks to play the leads. Apple wants a small lineup ready by 2019.

"I think for both NBC and Apple, it's about finding that sweet spot with content that is creative and challenging but also allows as many people in the tent as possible," said NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke.

Apple Wants To Appeal To Customers First Before Making Edgier Programs

It makes sense for Apple to prioritize appeal before moving on to developing a signature. Netflix already has one: binge-worthy, often risqué programming — some of which TV executives would never give their thumbs up to. Hulu, too, is starting to make a bigger splash, having won this year's Best Drama trophy at the Emmys for the groundbreaking The Handmaid's Tale.

Surely, Apple knows what it's doing. The first step is to invite people in. Then when they are finally in, to make them stay there.

Even so, this has broader implications on creative control. For example: Carpool Karaoke being delayed was widely reported back in April, but there was never a clear reason why. As it turns out, Tim Cook wanted some edits to be done due to the foul language and crudeness — references to vaginal hygiene — featured in some episodes.

Apple Is Being About Its Original Shows

Netflix is famously generous to content creators, giving them near-uninhibited freedom to explore themes they'd like to explore, to make shows exactly how they see it in their head. On Netflix, creators have free reign to experiment and make envelope-pushing shows, the kind people would never see on TV, at least not now. Meanwhile, because of Apple's approach, Bloomberg reports that the company has been labeled by many producers as conservative and picky.

In an ideal setting, Tim Cook doesn't get to make programming decisions by himself — Apple hired executives for that. He must learn to let them run the circus, or else Apple risks shooing away filmmakers and writers with edgier, diverse, and compelling work — sex or no sex, nudity or no nudity.

So, one thing is clear: Though Apple is one of the world's biggest tech companies, when it comes to programming — and creative freedom — it's still learning the ropes.

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