Published date31 October 2023
Publication titleSignal
EARLIER this month, unheralded and largely unnoticed, Netflix quietly released what may well go down as its most revolutionary piece of programming yet. Using the same groundbreaking live technology that Chris Rock trialled when he dropped his Will Smith-baiting standup special Selective Outrage last spring, the streaming giant launched a show that might not just be the future of reality TV, but may also hint at the direction television as a whole will take in the aftermath of the SAG and WGA strikes

The show? Baby Animal Cam.

What is Baby Animal Cam? What if I told you that it is livestreamed footage from Cleveland Metroparks Zoo? What if I told you that there are no presenters or dialogue? What if I told you that literally nothing happens in it whatsoever, and that it’s on for two hours then pretty much ends without warning, and it’s on again on Friday morning? You’re in, right?

I’m really not exaggerating here. That’s all there is to Baby Animal Cam. The show starts, you watch a bunch of monkeys flop about for a few minutes, and then another bunch of animals appear on screen, and then another bunch, and this goes on for two hours. Some jaunty library music plays in the background. Occasionally a little pop-up graphic will appear, never saying anything more specific than ‘‘Sometimes otters run around’’. That’s all that happens. For two hours.

The sheer existence of Baby Animal Cam raises so many questions. Like, why is it live? These are animals in a zoo. There’s not much in the way of jeopardy. The otters aren’t going to be attacked by eagles. None of them are going to win the Super Bowl or be involved in a major international news story...

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