The ‘Shows’ On The New ‘Netflix Of AI’ Are Cringe, But They’re A Window Into The Future

3 min read

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I have no doubt we will one day live in a world where you will be able to turn on the TV or VR headset or Hologram Machine, and be served a fully personalised TV show or movie, generated right there on the spot to suit your specific mood and want.

But we are not there yet. 

That has not stopped AI studio The Simulation (formerly Fable Studio) from launching Showrunner, an ambitious platform it says will provide AI-powered TV shows on demand. 

“The vision is to be the Netflix of AI,” Chief Executive Edward Saatchi told The Hollywood Reporter. “Maybe you finish all of the episodes of a show you’re watching and you click the button to make another episode. You can say what it should be about or you can let the AI make it itself.”

Sounds intriguing enough. But the execution is, well, bad. 

Showrunner is debuting with 10 original AI-generated series spanning myriad genres and styles, from anime and 3D animation to South Park knockoffs that are honestly insulting to the real thing. 

Image: Showrunner.

The cornerstone is Exit Valley, a satire of Silicon Valley tech culture, with episode one starring Mark Zuckerberg. Sticking around for the entire five minute runtime was one of the roughest things I’ve ever put my body through in the name of journalism. 

Other offerings include What We Leave Behind, which, judging from its trailer, is about two kids who try to bring back their dead mother in the form of AI. It tries to tug at the heartstrings, but all it succeeds in doing is making you wish you were doing literally anything else. 

Pixels seems to be Cars ripoff starring two Teslas that sound more on the soulless and robotic end of the voice spectrum than the endearing Disney vibe they were probably going for. Ikiru Shinu seems to want to be an anime, but the AI-generated art will put off even the most die-hard of weebs — at least those with even a crumb of artistic taste.

Essentially, right now, every show is basically just AI-generated static images of characters talking in robotic AI-generated voices. However, we only have the above to judge from, given the rest of the shows don’t seem to have trailers at the moment (at the time of writing, clicking on them will bring you to episode one of Exit Valley).

So, in short, the ‘Netflix of AI’ is bad in its current state. But if things keep progressing on the current trajectory, and we don’t blow ourselves up or get in the way of a giant space rock, this could be the future of entertainment, no matter how you personally feel about it. It’s cheaper to generate an actor than to pay one. 

The people behind the San Francisco-based The Simulation aren’t amateurs. Founder Saatchi previously worked at Oculus before spinning off Fable Studio. The startup’s team boasts veterans from Pixar, Oculus and various AI enterprises. In 2022 Fable Studio won two Primetime Emmy Awards for the AI-driven virtual being ‘Lucy’ featured in their VR film Wolves in the Walls

Last year The Simulation released a series of unofficial South Park parodies created entirely by AI. The videos attracted over eight million views and caught the attention of major studios like Netflix, Fox and Paramount. It’s important to note that these knock offs were created without the blessing of South Park‘s creators or Comedy Central. 

But back to Showrunner. Despite how undeniably bad it currently is, the platform has a reported waitlist of over 50,000 users vying for alpha access. Showrunner says this initial cohort will be able to craft their own shows and potentially monetise breakout hits via revenue sharing and IMDB credits.

Ultimately, the concept of Showrunner is intriguing, even if it is currently the cringiest television on the internet. The idea of being able to craft bespoke episodes of shows from prompts is genuinely exciting. It could open up a whole new world of creative possibilities, allowing fans to explore alternate storylines and put their own spin on their favourite shows. You could make a Simpsons episode where Bart fights Goku — copyright permitting.

On the other hand, it feels like a slippery slope towards a future where human writers and actors are rendered obsolete, replaced by cold algorithms and soulless virtual avatars.

If that scares you, just head to Showrunner’s website, watch a few of the trailers, and you might feel better — you’ll see that we are currently extremely far from that future.

Main image: Showrunner