For the creators of the new Netflix series Bloodline, today’s TCA panel was an effort in Damages-control. That is, brothers Todd A. Kessler and Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman, who also created the series Damages (which traveled from FX to DirecTV’s Audience Network), spent their time onstage with the cast saying there should be no comparison between Damages and the new series, a contemporary family drama set in the Florida Keys that premieres March 20.
“This isn’t Damages,” Zelman insisted. “I guess it’s flattering if people want to compare the new show to something they’ve gone out and embraced, but at the same time, we’re always looking at the future and how we want to tell stories next and not look backwards.”
All three producers were excited about getting a 13-episode order — though that also might have happened on a network or cable platform — but added that they liked the idea of streaming all episodes at once, which Glenn Kessler said “opened up for us on as storytellers a whole new level of passion and nuance.” Sissy Spacek — who was joined on the panel by fellow castmates Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, Sam Shepard and Norbert Leo Butz — described the series as “serialized film.”
Todd Kessler said another advantage of the Netflix model is the “absence of commercials, means the viewer can watch at any pace.” He added that producers don’t have to worry that anyone will sit down to watch a later episode without having the opportunity to immediately view previous episodes.
“They are not going to tune into Week 7 because there is no Week 7,” he said. “We have a confidence in an audience now; people are exclusively sitting down to watch and be entertained. Historically, people put their televisions on and do other things. … To know the audience is engaged (allows us to) tell densely sophisticated stories. … It feels like everyone is firing on all cylinders now. There is no rollout.”
Although declining to give specifics, the Kesslers said Damages was informed by their own experiences “entering the professional world,” while Bloodline is more inspired by their own family lives. “Family is so universal,” Glenn Kessler said. “There also has never been a family quite like this.”