During Peak TV, Are Shorter Episode Runtimes Better? – IndieWire Critics Survey

IndieWire | 4/23/2019 | Staff
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This week’s question: Are shorter runtimes better in the era of Peak TV?

I think everyone, whether they cover television as their job or not, can agree that shorter runtimes are better (the same can be said for shorter seasons). It is partly about the sheer amount of television vying for our attention at all times – it’s easier to watch more television if you’re not stuck watching episodes that top out at an hour or more all the time – but it’s also because a lot of television is unnecessary filler. “13 Reasons Why” not only had too many episodes, but it had too many episodes that went on and on and on without adding anything meaningful to the narrative. If there was ever a show that needed someone to step in and stop the madness, it was “13 Reasons Why.” Sometimes hourlong episodes are packed to the brim and not a second is wasted. Sometimes, on rare occasions, I will even accept an episode that lasts longer than hour is necessary to the story. But it’s also possible to tell lovely, balanced, emotionally resonant stories in shorter amounts of time. The upcoming series “State of the Union,” which follows a couple who meet for drinks ahead of their weekly marriage counseling appointments, is made up of 10 10-minute episodes, and I experienced a full range of emotions by the time the series was over. It was amazing, and one of my favorite shows of the year so far.

Idea - Dramas - Hour - Comedies - Lot

The idea that dramas are an hour and comedies are a half-hour is limiting too. Streaming has shifted how a lot of TV is viewed and written, and while that can sometimes be a problem – your show is not a 10-hour movie, OK? No one wants a 10-hour movie! They just...
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