REVIEW: ‘The Playlist’ Reinvents The Tech Industry Drama Series

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the playlist But Why Tho

Making a docuseries on tech companies is the thing to do this year. WeCrashed, The Dropout, and Super Pumped all came out this year chronicling the eccentricities, bad business decisions, or plain-out harmful lies spread by tech company CEOs. But all of these, tell one version of the truth. They’re all straightforward and most of them throw some sort of sympathetic line out to the CEO in question. That said, The Playlist, a Swedish Netflix Original miniseries doesn’t tell one truth, it tells many.

Directed by Per-Olav Sørensen and Hallgrim Haug, the six-episode series excels in unpacking reality as it looks to the different people involved in the success of Spotify. The Playlist centers around the young Swedish tech entrepreneur, Daniel Ek (Edvin Endre), and his key partners who revolutionized the music industry by offering free and legal streamed music around the world. It is a story about how hard convictions, unrelenting will, access, and big dreams can help small players challenge the status quo by evolving the way we can all listen to music.

But what separates this drama series from others like it, is that we see success unfold from many perspectives. Instead of just focusing on Ek, each episode switches point of view around many of the same situations from the viewpoint of the executives involved in Spotify’s launch and success. What this does, is spread out Spotify’s success from being centered on one person and instead showcases how these companies are made on the backs of many, even if they don’t get the recognition.

Each episode is titled for the perspective it presents, “The Vision” centered on Ek, “The Industry” showcases the perspective of music executive Per Sundin (Ulf Stenberg) and the impact of Pirate Bay, “The Law” highlights the complex legal landscape through the eyes Petra Hansson (Gizem Erdogan), “The Coder” highlights the overlooked technical expertise that went into Spotify from Andreas Ehn (Joel Lützow), “The Partner” highlights the money backing it all from co-founder Martin Lorentzon (Christian Hillborg), and finally, “The Artist” brings Spotify to court from Bobbi T’s (Janice Kavander) point of view and how the streaming service exploits artists. Some of these narratives work together, some undercut others, and in the overlap is where you can find the truth.

This narrative structure allows The Playlist to show each person involved in Spotify in different lights. While Daniel Ek sees himself as a god among coders who wants to honor his employees, Andreas Ehn sees Daniel as an owner who is completely detached from what can actually happen from a coder perspective. And the truth is, the only positive spotlight that Daniel Ek is painted in, comes from himself.  But he isn’t always mean, sometimes he’s ignorant, others he’s a coward, and yet, each perspective still leads everyone to the same party celebrating the launch.

Additionally, while this offers a rich look at the creation of a company that most of us use daily now, the choice to spiral out the story from key events all seen by the same people is superb. Somehow, this series manages to capture all the notes set by previous biographical drama projects set in the tech industry while creating something new and different. It captures how many people go into creating success and how all of them contribute to harm and joy. How each person brings their own wants and expectations to the table, and ultimately what it all means in the grand scheme of things.

The Playlist is near perfect. The mini-series sets the bar high for all biographical dramas to come after it. Particularly because it captures the ills of the tech industry, the joy, the fallout, and the many many people that all go into one success even if CEOs want to take all the glory or media wants to give them all the blame.

The Playlist is streaming now, exclusively on Netflix.


The Playlist
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

The Playlist is near perfect. The mini-series sets the bar high for all biographical dramas to come after it. Particularly because it captures the ills of the tech industry, the joy, the fallout, and the many many people that all go into one success even if CEOs want to take all the glory or media wants to give them all the blame.

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