January 24, 2019

"Why Are British Soft Boys Taking Over Netflix?"

Asks Jackson McHenry at Vulture. This is a question I don't even have the background understanding to think of asking, but I'm intrigued. McHenry writes:
On Netflix right now, you can watch a TV series about an awkward, adolescent British boy who keeps trying to do the right thing, but ends up torturing himself internally when things go wrong. He’s slim, pale, preternaturally intelligent, but fumbles when talking to other people, especially girls. He’s supposed to be high-school-aged, but played by an older actor, though unlike his American cousins on the CW, he doesn’t look like a walking ad for protein powder high-intensity interval training....

Like the Lady of the Lake of Arthurian legend, Netflix’s ever-mysterious, somewhat algorithmic decision-making process seems to have landed on a new kind of hero to lead its TV shows: the British Soft Boy. It’s a character type that has existed before in many other forms, but has risen to prominence at the intersection of many trends, including the rise of the twink, and streaming’s Americanization of British TV. He’s often coded as queer, but in a way that associates queerness with approachability to both straight women and gay men; he’s also usually white, in a way that connects whiteness to imagined British qualities like politeness and delicacy. The British Soft Boy will be sweet. The British Soft Boy will not hurt you. He is made to be streamed; you will enjoy spending several hours with him and his soft British life....

95 comments:

chillblaine said...

"Gravity," is such a great movie. Has anyone else noticed its greatness? Just me?

Mr Wibble said...

Because the globalist left has decided that masculinity is toxic, and Britain leads the U.S. by a couple of decades heading down this road.

rhhardin said...

Gravity's physics is all wrong. It's two hours of stumbling around. Sandra Bullock is a cutie but winds up in a lot of stinkers.

Sebastian said...

"The British Soft Boy will be sweet. The British Soft Boy will not hurt you."

And when confronted by a drumming Indian, he will know it's better to walk away.

Netflix knows its female audience.

Or does it?

In the era of Fifty Shades, what do women want?

Ralph L said...

The Netflix I saw was full of female detectives. Young, good looking, and tortured by previous trauma. Bosses are always PoC or female.

Mr Wibble said...


In the era of Fifty Shades, what do women want?


They want the soft boy as a "friend" who will enable her worst behaviors and then listen when she whines about her boyfriend, the weight-lifting caveman who voted for Trump and is willing to choke her during sex.

chillblaine said...

My Ph.D. dissertation for M.I.T. (Matthew's Institute of Thought) was comparative physics, with a nice formula or two, Fermat etc, Schrodinger's Camel, etc. The physics of, "Titanic," or the physics of, "Gravity." It pretty much hinges on bewbs, the magnificent bosom of Kate Winslet vs. the functional mathematical purity lurking behind Sandra Bullock's tank top.

CaroWalk said...

I can't watch American or British Netflix content anymore, it's just excruciatingly pc. I've discovered Turkish dramatic series. They're great! ....Where men are men and women are women and marriage is still the most important life goal.

Carol said...

I've hated British Soft Boy ever since they started pushing Peter York on us. So sensitive and vulnerable...ugh...

Give me Richard Burton, Peter Finch, Rex Harrison, Sean Connery! They weren't all Brits but they had the accent.

tcrosse said...

Greg Davies in Man Down may be hapless, but he's not soft, especially when trading insults with children.

tcrosse said...

They weren't all Brits but they had the accent.

They were all Brits, The weren't all English.

Matt said...

Sometimes I feel like everybody is watching a different Netflix from me. I thought they were talking about the well-meaning, socially awkward, adolescent British straight man who does his best to keep his composure while all the rest of his friends and acquaintances go batshit crazy (like Will in The Inbetweeners). In fact, the awkward, British, straight man is almost a cliche. There are too many great examples to count.

It sounds like they're talking about something different here, but I'm out of the loop because I usually avoid TV dramas.

Ralph L said...

Tommy Lascelles in The Crown was the very opposite of soft. What a voice!
The sendup of JFK and Jackie was unexpected and refreshing, as was the sympathetic Billy Graham.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

We need more check-box people.

Only humans that exhibit KKKamala Harris check box attributes are worthy.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

I wish Robyn Hitchcock was taking over Netflix. Can you imagine the change in content?

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

We've had Netflix for a few months now. Still can't find much interesting to watch.

Berlin Babylon was good. Some good documentaries and That's about it.

James K said...

They can produce it, but do people watch it? I can watch any of hundreds of productions on Netflix, and none of those 'soft boy' movies were on my radar screen.

Anonymous said...

What percentage of the decision-makers at Netflix are gay themselves? Or more specifically, "gender-fluid" degenerates with an agenda?

I don't doubt there's a segment of the female audience that can be appealed to with "soft boys". (Tiger Beat "non-threatening boys" for grown women who won't enter adulthood?) But masculine men would work even better, for a larger female audience. The twink-pushers are trying to manipulate their audience into soyboy/twink/gender-fluid approval more than they're trying to cater to existing tastes. Not a coincidence that this occurs alongside increasing craziness about "toxic masculinity".

Of course I don't watch any of this stuff so I have no idea if "British soft boys" are actually a thing, or just some "cultural critic" (aka random over-consumer of pop-culture) imagining his own preoccupations into "trends".

Ralph L said...

Berlin Babylon was good
Once you got over the greasy skin.

I didn't like how you largely get stuck with your 3 chosen preferences, and I couldn't figure out how to change them. I don't remember seeing the 3 series the article references.

chillblaine said...

The Buzzard is onto something. So much mainstream content is grooming.

Fernandinande said...

"Why Are British Soft Boys Taking Over Netflix?"

Why are almost all headlines fake?

Last year Netflix had 1,569 TV shows; as near as I can tell, the article with the fake headline claims that 0.19% of Netflix's TV shows are taking over Netflix.

Gordon Scott said...

40 years ago Brit culture was all about the androgynous men, led by David Bowie. I was living there and it seemed like all of the lead singers had that annoying nasal faux or not-so-faux (Boy George) vocal tics. Then Prince came along and had all the androgynous stylings, but there wasn't any doubt where he was sticking his dick at night.

Nonapod said...

Reminds me of that old Simpson's gag where Lisa is reading a magazine called Non Threatening Boys. It's pretty obvious that many women love stories about non threatening boys. Netflix and it's algorithm knows this.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

It may be a currently popular trope. Oh well, we've had that type forever, and not just British. A lot of young actors play something like that until they grow up a bit and put on some muscle.

Paddy O said...

“I marmaladed a slice of toast with something of a flourish and I don't suppose I have ever come much closer to saying 'Tra la la' as I did the lathering for I was feeling in mid season form this morning.”
― P.G. Wodehouse

Anthony said...

Best sentence I've seen today: "the rise of the twink".

J. Farmer said...

This is not really that new of a phenomenon. The history of art is replete with images of idealized youthful male beauty. I imagine a lot of this was driven by homoerotic desires, though Germain Greer made a half-hearted attempted to reclaim it for women in her decent, but not really good, 2003 book The Beautiful Boy. Paglia discussed the concept at length in Sexual Personae. And it is not a theme exclusive to the Western world also. Korea has a history of hwarang, or flowering youth, who were warriors known for their extensive use of makeup, decorations, and perfumes. This concept has been revitalized in South Korea and is referred to as kkonminam (handsome flower man). In Japan the same aesthetic is called bishōnen (beautiful boy).

Bryan Townsend said...

For an antidote, try watching some of the excellent Australian tv series on Netflix.

Rick said...

Just an observation: no one instinctively reacts to British boys as potential Trump supporters thus confusing the protagonists with the antagonists.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The (next) Battle of Waterloo was lost on the playing of Netflix...


mccullough said...

The Rough Boys are ready for a comeback

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

OT: At least the leader of the Twitter cesspool admits they are in fact, Nazis.

Jack Dorsey: Twitter Nazis Are Here to Stay

William said...

On most of these shows, the high school kids look like post grad students. They have to be this old. The sexual encounters are so bizarre and frequent that the shows would be not believable and probably illegal if they used actual teen agers to act out the scenarios.

Tarrou said...

Actually just watched "Sex Education". Interesting show, entertaining despite the constant drumbeat of SJW pieties. Maybe the accent just sands off the rough edges.

But worth noting that while the protagonist is softing around like a prat, his sex therapist mother (When did Scully get MILFy?) is banging a burly, tattooed handyman she hired to fix her sink (and boy does he).

William said...

I watch more Amazon Prime than Netflix. If you watch the BBC adaptations of old novels and Shakespeare, you're somewhat shielded from political correctness, but even here it's not safe,......PC is a strange world. Petite, fit women regularly take on beefy thugs and leave them bruised and beaten. Sensitive, nerdy black kids are routinely harassed by white bullies in high school. Gays are witty and amusing but never bitchy or inappropriately horny.

Seeing Red said...

I never imagined the Brits as delicate.

But I watch WWII stuff.

James K said...

For an antidote, try watching some of the excellent Australian tv series on Netflix.

The Israeli ones are good too: Fauda, Hostages, among others. And the Brit one 'Bodyguard' was quite good and hardly "soft."

PM said...

Soft Boys = vulnerability = catnip for young women.
So speak softly and carry a big stick.

SeanF said...

I just watched "You" on Netflix. Can't really recommend - it just wasn't that good overall - but it struck me as surprisingly non-feminist, especially the ending. Even more surprising when I found out it was originally produced for Lifetime!

CJinPA said...

There's a Norm MacDonald bit from SNL's "Weekend Update" where an actor denies he's gay, "but he's British, so how can you tell the difference?"

rehajm said...

He’s supposed to be high-school-aged, but played by an older actor

Played by an older actor because Sex Education is about this particular high school aged boy working as a sex counselor for his classmates, who are having all kinds of sex. There's tits and asses and cocks and graphic sexual portrayal of high school aged kids.

bagoh20 said...

Yea, yea, yea. The Snuggie was all the rage for a short time too.

bagoh20 said...

A short ratiocination leads me to deduce that us straight men can start being drawn to bull dikes. Yipee!

Bill Peschel said...

"It's pretty obvious that many women love stories about non threatening boys. Netflix and it's algorithm knows this."

Until it's time to get nasty in the sheets, and then it's all Ice Planet Barbarians.

(For a very funny take on it, look on Amazon for "Squirm: Virgin Captive of the Billionaire Biker Tentacle Monster.") Use the Althouse link!

Yancey Ward said...

I see J. Farmer has already mention Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae for a take on this issue. I would recommend it, too.

MadTownGuy said...

I thought at first blush the Netflix series "The Bodyguard" was going to be a PC fest...but the ending of the last episode took an unexpected turn and it delivered a most un-PC message. No spoilers beyond that. Worth watching.

Oso Negro said...

Wow! Someone has been watching "Sex Education" on Netflix. It has all the modern elements. A soft British boy who can do sex counseling for teenagers despite his virginity because he learned it from his sex counselor nymphomaniac Mom. His black best friend is one of two openly gay boys in the school. The alpha white girl in the school can only be satisfied by the necessarily black head boy.

Fernandinande said...

It's pretty obvious that many women love stories about non threatening boys. Netflix and it's algorithm knows this.

Then why do so few of the Netflix programs feature these boys? From skimming the article I saw 3 shows mentioned, out of over 1,500 TV programs on Netflix. A careful reader of garbage articles might have found more boy-shows mentioned, so double it to, say 6 shows; out of the 1,500 TV shows they run. Why so few?

I bet there are hundreds of programs featuring tough obsessed-with-the-job police persons of gender or similar nonsense.

Wilbur said...

Bah! Give me a real Brit movie star: George Formby.

Gordon Scott said...

"When I'm cleaning winders...."

Gk1 said...

I presume the Netflix media buyers and producers are just a bunch of middle aged homos who like looking at british boys. Or the guy writing the article is obsessed with british boys. It remains to be seen if american viewers agree.

Rabel said...

"A short ratiocination leads me to deduce that us straight men can start being drawn to bull dikes."

I always thought Navratilova was pretty hot so I guess I was ahead of Bago's curve.

Gk1 said...

Wilbur you made me spit my coffee out. Excelsior!

Laslo Spatula said...

When you are nine months pregnant and go for a legal abortion in NYC a Soft Boy will drive you to the clinic.

And have a Get Well card waiting for you after your procedure.

But you still won't fuck him.

Because you have standards.

I am Laslo.

Rabel said...

And while I'm not aware of her sexual proclivities I have to say that Justice Kagan has definitely got it going on.

Sigivald said...

... what is this nonsense, and why am I supposed to care about it?

Phil 314 said...

First of all there are A LOT of British series on netflix so you can find boys, soft and hard.

As mentioned above, in "Bodyguard" (which I just finished)the lead character is anything but a soft "boy" (man) and the ending (SPOILER ALERT)

emphasized that the Muslim terrorist was the real bad guy.

I also got through the first season of "Peaky Blinders" There are NO soft boys in that one. In fact even the "boys" (by that meaning under 18) are pretty rough.

Also as mentioned above, even the Crown has its share of rough and soft boys.

(Confirmation bias rears its ugly head again)

Freeman Hunt said...

How could an Arthurian legend be soft?

Fernandinande said...

Vulture Writer Who Wished Death on Covington Students Fired From Job at INE Entertainment

But not fired from Vulture.

From a nice Lileks column.

Fernandinande said...

... what is this nonsense, and why am I supposed to care about it?

It's fake news. See how many people fell for it?

Not Sure said...

"Why are British soft boys taking over Netflix?"

Doing the jobs Americans won't do?

Anonymous said...

Seeing Red: But I watch WWII stuff.

Speaking of Brits and world wars (I, in this case), on Monday I went to a public movie theater for the first time in decades for a big-screen viewing of They Shall Not Grow Old. Everybody in the (sparsely attended) theater was at least as old as I am, though on this school holiday there were crowds of parents and children buying tickets for the innumerable and indistinguishable (to my eye) superhero movies in the other theaters.

Moving experience. Anybody else been?

Darrell said...

Martina Navratilova flirted with me in the 1980s--or at least my camera. She was playing an indoor match in Chicago in that womens' pro-league that didn't last too long. It was winter and the weather was snowy and icy and the crowd was pretty thin. I was doing a favor for a friend who had written an article about her that was going to be printed across the newspaper chain he worked for and he wanted something other than stock photos, and his newspaper couldn't spare a staff photographer. At the beginning, there were couple of other photographers about in the designated area, but they took a few photos and left. Martina spotted me and started to model for my camera when she got a chance in the match and during break periods. He opponent even noticed it and came over to tell me that it was distracting as hell. I told her that she could pose for me, too, and I snapped a few photos of her. Martina invited me to come to the locker room after the match and I talked to her for a couple of minutes and took a couple of photos until some woman from the tournament escorted me out. Martina told me I looked exactly like one of her cousins. The only thing of note that happened was a player in a towel walked past us in the locker room smiling, and when she got right along side us she blew a loud long fart. Martina immediately said, "That means she likes you!"

Sam L. said...

I don't do Netflix.

Otto said...

You noticed that Ann concentrates on soft "beautiful boys" while pushing her image of a bawdy,anything but soft women ready to take on the boys.You can fool some of the boys, but not buying. Ann there is doting grandmother role waiting for you. Take it.

Kevin said...

The best things on Netflix:

The Crown
Bojack Horseman
The Great British Baking Show (nee Bake Off)
Monty Python's Flying Circus

That's all I can think of. I'll never waste time browsing either, because of their stupid auto-preview thing that starts playing the item or its trailer when you land on any item for more than 3 seconds.

It's almost always the case that any movie or show you actually want to watch is not on Netflix, but is on Amazon and not available for Prime. I spend most of my watching time these days watching Classic Doctor Who on Britbox. I hoped 26 seasons would soak up some relaxation time, and it's done that well.

Gk1 said...

Saw "They Shall Not Grow Old" in a packed "dollar house" theatre in San Rafael (Marin co.) Mostly old folks (like me) to very old with a few smatterings of neck beard men and young adults. I found the film oddly cheery for such a dark subject. But it probably fit the sentiment of the times and men fighting for that period "Oh well, gotta do my part. Cor blimey. Now hand me that Lewis gun!"

Kevin said...

I saw They Shall Not Grow Old. I thought it was ok, but was disappointed overall. There was no real context to anything. I watched all of The Great War Youtube channel, and it was able to go over the subject in such depth that a single movie-length documentary couldn't compete. TSNGO was ok for what it was, but it barely scratched the surface of the subject.

Wilbur said...

Darrell, that's a great story about Martina N.

It reminds of what my father would say in those circumstances "There's a little kiss for you."

Jay Elink said...

This "soft boy" thing has bled into TV ads.

I especially detest the skinny and stoop-shouldered little geek who shills for Verizon. (it seems he stars in an HBO series "Silicon Valley", which I've never seen.)

In one ad he portrayed a CEO of a start-up who rides to company meetings on a Razor scooter.

ick.

Laslo Spatula said...

I am seconding Wilbur about Darrell's story.

I am Laslo.

narciso said...

I got through the first three seasons of peaky blinders sort of the british version of a david milch teleplay.

Carter Wood said...

Coincidentally, "I Want To Be An Anglepoise Lamp" by The Soft Boys, Robyn Hitchcock's clever band from the '80s, is on point.

Lyrics.

Jay Elink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay Elink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay Elink said...

"TSNGO was ok for what it was, but it barely scratched the surface of the subject."
***********

Peter Jackson, describing the making of the film, specifically said that he chose to focus on experiences of the common soldier, rather than on numerous topics.

I thought the movie was very well done. Seeing all those young men going into battle and likely being gunned down (or blown up)---many within minutes--- really made me wonder how I would behave in such chaos.

The showing at our local Googleplex was 95% full. The audience was entirely white, and leaned heavily toward the middle-aged and up.

It's a shame film wasn't invented until the late 1800'S. Imagine what seeing the Battle of Antietam, for example, was really like?

Ralph L said...

I switched to AcornTV Jan 1. Some overlap with Netflix, and some I've seen on PBS, but I'm enjoying it more than a year of Netflix.

Freeman Hunt said...

"crowds of parents and children buying tickets for the innumerable and indistinguishable (to my eye) superhero movies in the other theaters."

Bleh.

n.n said...

crowds of parents and children buying tickets for the innumerable and indistinguishable (to my eye) superhero movies

Dare to defy.

Anonymous said...

Kevin: TSNGO was ok for what it was, but it barely scratched the surface of the subject.

I don't think it was meant to provide any "in depth" understanding of the war, for people whose knowledge of the war is thin or nonexistent. The point was to restore century-old footage with current technology, to make more immediate and real material that in its "raw" monochrome (and limited-frames-per-second) original state gives a distant, unreal aura to the events and people recorded.

I think the effort was pretty successful, even if a distracting sense of "cgi-ness" often prevailed.

Titus said...

Love sex education ...

You see British tits.

Sebastian said...

"They Shall Not Grow Old"

Saw it in full theater. Had very positive but mixed feelings. Incredible technical accomplishment telescoping complex event into simple human narrative dramatically illustrated. Awesome! But missed context and complexity, the flow of events, the war beyond the trenches.

FIDO said...

Love sex education ...

You see British tits.



I am unsure if that is any kind of recommendation.

FIDO said...

Brits were never so much into the big burly men in their cinema.

They tended toward the rail thin, clever and IMPLACABLE men who never quit. But they were always endeavoring to be competent.

Now...competent men frighten women. I'm sure that Althouse was in competition with competent men for her whole career, however slanted the playing field might have been for her.

It is related the 'Fraud' Principle: where you don't think you are as competent as you really are. It affects women and men both, but when you bring gender differences into the mix, men can stay more hours, are generally more focused, and physically larger.

This scares the bejeezus out of women and they work very hard to make up lost ground in all kinds of ways.

So having men one can mock or ignore, while making them all cuddly...Weak men don't turn women on, but they make them feel superior and safer.

Titus said...

The British tits are bouncing too while she in on top of a guy while fucking. He can’t cum though

Titus said...

And he has a huge cock.

Anonymous said...

Sebastian: Awesome! But missed context and complexity, the flow of events, the war beyond the trenches.

Since I had already seen "making of" interviews, I didn't go in expecting any kind of comprehensive documentary. I took it as a deliberately limited-in-scope project revolving around the experience of those trenches. Viewing this "restored" (not really the right word) footage had a visceral and immediate effect, different from that all the other descriptions, photos, and films about that experience, read or seen before.

Don Jansen said...

By coincidence I happen to be binging Lovesick. And I've also binged Great British Baking, and End of the F***** World. Mostly like to watch soft boy shows like these between binging shows like Last Kingdom, Peaky Blinders, and Bodyguard. Mixing stuff up seems to keep both "genres" fresh. Wondering what Being Human would be? Hard boy or soft boy? Or Skins? Or Life on Mars? The British originals of course. Although I have enjoyed the lot, the last three would probably be the best of them and they are all kind of in-between I think. But then having the soft boy/hard boy dichotomy does seem to offer a bit of respite from males characters in the earlier middle ground held by Doc Martin, All Creatures Great and Small, William and Mary, etc. It speaks highly of British TV that they are able to come up with a wide range of interesting roles for male characters.

narciso said...

European TV is on balance more hard boy looking at some of the German French and even Turkish fare.

Kirk Parker said...

Bill Peschel,

For a different kind of parody heading off in a different direction that Squirm, try searching Amazon for "space raptor butt invasion".

Tom Royce said...

Letterkenny on Hulu. Definitely not soft, except for the Super Soft Birthday Party...

Give it a try if you are looking for something that will respect masculinity.

Mr. Satyre said...

@chillblaine: It's over hyped garbage.

docweasel said...

"Call Me By Your Name", although the kid was an American in Europe, struck me the same way. I was especially thrown by the final scene where the dad (who obviously had the hots for the boy's love interest) just seems to think it's the greatest thing in the world that could have happened, a guy in his 30s-40s having a sexual affair with a teenager. The dad says the kid should treasure the experience and it will have a positive effect on the rest of his life, getting cornholed by an older man, I guess, is the be all and end all of coming of age. The kid is the worst example of a teenager, all angsty and awkward and just plain stupid, not to mention he throws off a gorgeous girl who adores him because he's gay, man, and has not time for girls, he's accepting who he is. I'm a little sick of the normalization of gayness, the celebration of it and the insinuation it's even superior to being straight. SJW leftist types misunderstand the Catholic view of homosexuality: we don't hate gays, we simply think the lifestyle is unnatural, sinful and ultimately damaging to both parties (not to mention unhealthy and gross). This movie kind of epitomizes this view. The kid does not seem better off for being seduced and exploited by the older guy (and sent off for a sex holiday with him by his own parents!!) and I'd guess his character would have been psychologically damaged by the whole thing. It's unfashionable to say (and gets you accused of 'homophobia') but homo sex is not good for anyone, least of all kids, and more people should speak up for traditional values. I don't give a fuck if every situation comedy and movie made these days has a sympathetic gay character, it's harmful and wrong. And something the media never talks about when slamming the Catholic church sex scandal: a helluva lot of gays seem to be pedophiles, and just like they used Boy Scouts and teaching and coaching (Penn State) to get around little boys they could molest, seems like a lot of gays infiltrate the church so they can wear the church's respectability while raping and abusing, almost exclusively, boys. This is another reason gayness is seen as evil by most religions.

docweasel said...

Why? Because it's part of the gayification of our culture. Being masculine is bad, being gay and effeminate is good.

BJM said...

"... you will enjoy spending several hours with him and his soft British life....

Having just read "Robert Graves: From Great War Poet To Good-Bye To All That 1895-1929"

I most assuredly will not.