Like any Silicon Valley pioneer, Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, spends part of his life in the future. Which is why, in fall of 2016, he took the stage of a Laguna Beach technology conference to open a few new doors of perception. "The ultimate challenge for us will be can we figure out what that new form of entertainment is," he mused, wondering what would become of his eyeball-dominating streaming service. "Is it VR? Is it gaming? Is it AR? Is it pharmacological?"
Pharmacological? The final question piqued the interest of tech writers and cut through a storm of political coverage. "Netflix boss imagines replacing movies and TV shows with entertainment drugs," read a headline on The Verge. Time's angle took a more apocalyptic approach: "Netflix's CEO Says Entertainment Pills Could Make Movies and TV Obsolete." Everyone made "Netflix and pill" jokes.
To date, Hastings has yet to expand on his comments (through a Netflix representative, he declined to speak with Thrillist for this article) but the single word spoke volumes, especially because it was so out of place: Conversations about the "future" of television often feature the same buzzwords ("peak TV," "the great unbundling") and the array of alt-TV services (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu).