TV Show Review: "Barbarians", by Andreas Heckmann, Arne Nolting, and Jan Martin Scharf

So the company I work for sent everybody a care package because they're pretty awesome. Bundled within this care package is a Netflix gift card. I scratched off the Netflix gift card like it said, and it gave me a $25 credit, which is around 1.5 months of binging at 1080p.

I personally have never signed up for Netflix, and before this gift card arrived, had never planned to. I'm a DVD kind of guy, I buy a DVD boxed set and watch my DVDs using a USB-to-DVD player. I find Comcast screws with my Internet too often, shows often jump ship because streaming is starting to segment based on original content, and I don't like variety, enough in order to make that tradeoff worth it for me.

But I'm a history buff kind of guy, and there's this one YouTube video of this one show on Netflix where one horseman speaks some pretty legit-sounding Latin. I'm like woah and I decide maybe to check out this TV show. So after I scratch off the card I'm like maybe I won't give this to my next-door neighbor to curry favor or whatever and apply that to a brand-new Netflix account.

And oh my God was this show horrible.

Here's some reasons why:

  • Too many sex scenes: Like why. I want history. I want the old History Channel. But noooo. Here's an unrelated sex scene between these two Germans I don't care too much about. Also a not-sex scene between Arminius and Thusnelda on their wedding day. No emperor Augustus. Very little Varus. I don't mind sex scenes (in fact I think it's pretty cool) but I think Netflix is trying too hard to capitalize on the "Netflix and chill" shtick (tbf it does sell subscriptions). I think that'll be a common thing when I browse further Netflix categories. Like "Steamy" is one category.

  • Little character development: No Arminius growing up in the Eternal City. No change of heart besides maybe two or three conversations between Arminius and Varus. No real organizing of the Germanic tribes or seeing how they prepare the ambush or train to fight legionnairies besides "the Romans kidnapped your children so fight together hurrah". It's just like these random Germans running around in the forest.

    Literally, the final battle takes up part of one episode. The greatest defeat arguably in Roman history and you devote part of one episode?

And those kind of just bring me to the last point:

  • It's revisionist: It's so clear and obvious that it kind of sucks you out of the story. "Germans good, Romans bad". If they actually fleshed out the characters more, and made it so it's just not having sex and killing people but actual, real human thought, it would have been more enjoyable. I think for me as an audience, I like it when I don't know when the next twist or turn is going to be. There's a limit in history because you can read history, but you can always make it a bit more interesting (e.g. talking about one of the side characters at length in order to give the battle itself a bit more scale), and this is just...not that.

Sigh. Now I'm not quite sure what Netflix titles to watch next. Maybe "The Good Place" since it's one of the shows by Michael Schur and I heard it was good, or something else. I think with Netflix, I'll start a habit of not finishing TV shows (because they cancel shows all the time anyways). Also didn't add my credit card (they have that option btw to just go off of a gift card), so I'll just watch shows until my gift card expires.