Five years after Netflix’s arrival as an Emmy Awards threat with House of Cards, we’re getting used to seeing streaming services dominate at awards shows.
Yesterday, Amazon Prime Video’s Marvellous Mrs Maisel collected five Emmys including best comedy; Netflix took home seven awards including best actress in a drama (Claire Foy, The Crown); and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale was nominated in six categories.
Facebook Watch will be hoping its new show Sorry For Your Loss lets it join the television disruption party.
The service launched in the United States a year ago, and in Australia just last month, but until now it’s mostly been known (if at all) for its original reality and lifestyle offerings like Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk and beauty empire founder Huda Kattan’s Huda Boss.
But Sorry For Your Loss is very different. Elizabeth Olsen is receiving high praise for her performance as an advice columnist who struggles to deal with the sudden death of her husband in the new drama which was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month.
According to TV critic Daniel Fienberg, writing for the Hollywood Reporter, the show marks Facebook’s entry into the quality TV game. He’s not the only one saying that.
Here’s Vanity Fair:
“Sorry For Your Loss isn’t simply a well-acted show; it’s a well-written one, too. Maybe the production could use a little zhuzh to sharpen it to the quality one would expect from a prestige network, but the relatively simple trappings for the characters’ stories also work in the show’s favour.
“Sorry For Your Loss is spare enough to really showcase its performances and writing, which plumbs the mundane woes and stark abysses of a journey that every single one of us will have to endure at one point or another.”
And Rolling Stone:
“I wish I could inform you that Facebook Watch’s scripted efforts are easy to write off when we all have too many quality shows to watch in too many places.
“But Sorry for Your Loss knows what kind of story it’s telling, how to tell it well and how to avoid many of the inherent pitfalls that would instantly repel audiences. It’s good — and an early feather in the cap of this young operation.”
And finally, Vulture:
“It’s rare to say ‘I could barely get through this show’ and mean it as high praise, but that’s what I’m telling people about Sorry for Your Loss, the new Facebook Watch drama from playwright Kit Steinkellner that stars Elizabeth Olsen as a young widow.
“It’s a meticulously observed and often cathartic experience, the kind of show that can make a person feel seen for the first time.”
While the episodes are 30 minutes long, making them slightly more snackable than traditional hour-long dramas, that’s still a lot longer than the funny viral videos, news clips, Bachelor recaps and football highlights you might see in Facebook Watch depending on the pages you follow and the videos your friends and family like and share.
As well, its deep exploration of grief and the human experience might seem like a change in tone from what you’re used to consuming on your phone (though Facebook Watch videos can also be played on TV using Chromecast and Apple TV).
But Sorry For Your Loss wants to get you talking about those things right there on Facebook. It’s created an official discussion group which aims to provide fans with a “safe space” to talk about the show as well as their own experiences of loss.
“I love tiny human stories. And Facebook is all about tiny human stories,” the show’s creator Kit Steinkellner told the Washington Post.
“What we’re shooting for is shows that deeply engage in specific communities, and make people who are fans of that show feel like part of the action.”
Whether or not Sorry For Your Loss itself makes any money (Facebook Watch is free but ad-supported), that’s ultimately the game as the social media giant tries to get you spend even more time on its platform.
Sorry For Your Loss launches worldwide today at 11:00am AEST.
Facebook Watch trailer for Sorry For Your Loss