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Longer or shorter shows?

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  • Victor
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    Jun 18th, 2020
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    #1205187051

    I just saw this tweet and I’m shocked at how much this is being liked

    Do you guys even have time for 22 episode dramas still? I’m struggling to keep up with ONE (Grey’s).

    What are your opinions on it?

    Please! These gays, they're trying to murder me!

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    kat_ebbs
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    #1205187073

    What are your opinions on it?

    22 episode seasons are horrible for the people working on them.

    That said, I do tend to think we might have gone too far on flipping to 6 episode limited series and/or assuming people will be okay with a 2  year break between ongoing shows. There’s room for more long run shows than we have this decade.

     

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    Victor
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    #1205187094

    22 episode seasons are horrible for the people working on them.

    Specially if you’re not a set in stone show like Grey’s these days. You work nonstop to non human conditions, i remember Katherine Heigl saying what Grey’s was like on the earlier days and it was tragic, she worked like 17 hours a day. And for that interview she was borderline blacklisted to this day.

    I guess I’m asking more as our habits as viewers. Like, when I was a teenager i used to do the 22 episodes thing like one after the other. But as an adult you just don’t have the time for that many? I’m behind on The White Lotus for Christ sake and it’s 7 episodes.

    I do agree with you about the 2 year break thing, we shouldn’t have to wait that long, but if it is what the cast and crew do need then ok. No one should have to wait 3/4 years tho, looking at you Stranger Things, Barry and Atlanta (i do get that all of those 3 were affected by the pandemic tho)

    Please! These gays, they're trying to murder me!

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    kat_ebbs
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    #1205187153

    I guess I’m asking more as our habits as viewers. Like, when I was a teenager i used to do the 22 episodes thing like one after the other. But as an adult you just don’t have the time for that many? I’m behind on The White Lotus for Christ sake and it’s 7 episodes.

    I think a lot of that though is also due to there being MORE TV. If there weren’t as many shows it might be a little easier to keep up with the long run ones, plus everything wouldn’t be fighting for coverage (which matters, because it’s harder to forget about a show that’s always top of mind).

    I tend to think there is too much TV being made, particularly in limited where your investment is fleeting. Last cycle was ridiculous.

     

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    adriandecker770
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    #1205187188

    I like 22 episode comedies, like I definitely don’t mind Abbott being 22 episodes, but yeah I couldn’t imagine keeping up with a 22 episode drama. I think the last show like that I kept up with was Jane the Virgin, and they managed it well the first few seasons but I felt like they couldn’t keep up with enough plot to fill in all those episodes later on. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend I think also was much better when they had 13 episode seasons as opposed to the 18 episode seasons

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    Victor
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    #1205187191

    I tend to think there is too much TV being made, particularly in limited where your investment is fleeting. Last cycle was ridiculous.

    I agree and i do think last cycle was more because it was the first “”””””normal”””””” year after the pandemic, so everything that was put on hold got released all at once. I hope scheduling won’t become like that anymore, it was indeed too much. You had The Dropout here, then you had Inventing Anna there, Pam & Tommy waiting, Gaslit watching and it felt suffocating. Like, there’s a reason why TWL and Dopesick were the frontrunners, people had time to think about those shows.

    Please! These gays, they're trying to murder me!

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    Victor
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    #1205187199

    I like 22 episode comedies, like I definitely don’t mind Abbott being 22 episodes, but yeah I couldn’t imagine keeping up with a 22 episode drama. I think the last show like that I kept up with was Jane the Virgin, and they managed it well the first few seasons but I felt like they couldn’t keep up with enough plot to fill in all those episodes later on. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend I think also was much better when they had 13 episode seasons as opposed to the 18 episode seasons

    The last season of Crazy Ex Girlfriend was my least favorite largely because of that (i do say least favorite and i mean it, i don’t think Crazy Ex Girlfriend has a single bad season, it’s one of my all time faves). There were some filler episodes and ideas hanging around.

    Please! These gays, they're trying to murder me!

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    wolfali
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    #1205187219

    This is such an interesting and dynamic question and I’m not sure if I have an answer that really lives up to the complexity of the premise but I guess my answer would be that I like a bit of both. On the one hand the 22 episode drama format is just heavenly, especially if you’re a budding writer. You learn a lot from being in a writers room whether it being how to work as a part of a collective, honing your skills in crafting characters and capturing tone and pacing or even just the whole opportunity to gain experience and have some social mobility. Likewise as a viewer you are able to spend a whole lot of time with rich complicated characters in situations you may not have yourself but can imagine just through the human emotion of empathy that we all (well most of us share) all whilst sitting at the comfort of your home and without having to talk to anyone! It provides you with a cathartic experience that you might not otherwise get with any other medium.

     

    At the same time though if one were to put a prerequisite on all TV shows having to be 22 episodes long then what does that do to the creativity television fosters? And likewise as a viewer how is it possible (especially in today’s climate) to keep up with the attention and dedication the stories it is telling deserve. I guess it’s a moot point seeing that they’re both British shows and we’ve had shorter series and seasons of television since the dawn of time but the two shows that come to my mind when I think of this are Fleabag and Happy Valley. Two auteur driven series that are poster children for the 6 episode television format. Two rich character studies with fully fledged worlds encompassing them all told in the space of 3 to 6 hours. But with 22 episodes would the glow and the sharpness of the writing remain? No one can expect one person to write 22 episodes of television on their own especially when unlike actors it would be impossible for you to take a break. And without Sally Wainwright and Phoebe Waller-Bridge writing an episode of either show, would it be worth it? Would anyone really be able to recapture the magic of their penmanship? I’d imagine in the case of something like Happy Valley in particular you’d need it to become almost equivalent to a Mentalist type of network procedural where whilst there is an overarching arc you’d have to have Catherine running around solving different cases every week for the space of almost an entire year. Which wouldn’t be terrible but it also wouldn’t be Happy Valley.

    I think something I’ve noticed when watching episodes of Six Feet Under for the first time and re-watching Doctor Who from the start of the revival (something I do in between each era of the show) recently is just how much I love the 10 to 13 episode format that people in the 00s felt was too short and people nowadays say is too long. A lot of the shows I’ve enjoyed over the years whether either of the aforementioned series or Mad Men or The Americans or I May Destroy You or Better Call Saul or even a comedy like The Other Two have stuck to that format and frankly… no wonder why? It’s quite literally the best of both worlds. You’re able to be creative with the stories you’re telling whilst also giving your characters, stories, actors and audience room to breathe and maneuver and as a writer from a creative point of view it’s perfect. You’re able to really deliver an uncompromised creative vision whilst also enriching opportunities for other up and coming writers to learn and then take the lead on their own projects one day. On Six Feet Under alone writers like Joey Solloway, Craig Wright, Nancy Oliver and Nicole Holofcener cut their teeth before moving to bigger things of their own. If the first season of Mad Men was 6 episodes long would Don’s secret and Peggy’s arc have been as compelling as they were? Were it 22 episodes long would it have outstayed its welcome? Something I noticed when finishing re-watching the “first” season of Doctor Who last week was how taken I was by Christopher Eccleston’s performance and how I felt like I had spent enough time with his iteration of the Doctor but also felt like I hadn’t spent enough to find his exit to be emotional and bittersweet. That wouldn’t have happened in a shorter or longer season of television. In 13 hours we all can experience a lot in our lives. In 6 we live some life and then move on and in 22 hours we live too much life.

    Right now I’d probably say the problem in the industry is that there are too many series that are too short on air right now. I quite enjoyed Reboot but I was really struck by how much better it would have worked and felt had it been a long running network sitcom like Abbott Elementary. Shows like The Chair and “limited” series like The Dropout would have been much better as films. But that’s not to say that there isn’t any brilliance that can be mined from a shorter episode format.

    FYC: Better Call Saul, The English and The Good Fight in all categories including Emily Blunt, Bob Odenkirk, Christine Baranski and Rhea Seehorn.

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    adriandecker770
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    #1205187230

    Yeah I really miss the 12/13 episode season from that golden era of HBO (really hope you’re enjoying Six Feet Under, one of my favourite ever shows!), I was honestly so excited when I found out Andor was going to have 12 episodes. The last continuing show I think I watched with 12 episodes (before Andor) were The Good Place and Bojack Horseman, which I thought always used the season length perfectly (and I May Destroy You also made really amazing use of the 12 episodes). I agree that it’s a good balance and I hope more shows go back to the slightly longer seasons. Also I do think Reboot really felt like it could’ve used more episodes, I think with a serialized format the 8 episodes are okay but Reboot is so sitcomy, I feel like with sitcom style separated episode plots you need a bit of time to get a feel for the characters, which I didn’t really feel with Reboot yet. It felt like it was just getting started as the season ended.

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    jjjmoss
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    #1205187244

    I usu like at least double digits.

    Like Mad Men and Handmaid’s Tale.

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    Jacob "Oscar Boy" Boe
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    #1205187249

    Piggybacking off of what others have said, there’s room for both. Ideally, creators would choose the episode count that is best for their type of show. It really should be about the intended effect. There are of course exceptions to every rule, but, basically, a two dozen episode season would be a sitcom or procedural, a dozen episode season would be a serial, and a half-dozen episode season would be a serial taking place over a short amount of time.

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    kat_ebbs
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    #1205187253

    I think writing aside it’s also important that performers that suit the length or format are correctly cast.

    Some people are quite good at modulating their performance from a 22 episode season to 6 and others aren’t.

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    Victor
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    #1205187266

    I don’t think anyone will be able to top wolfali’s answer lol, it was everything perfectly said.
    I think 10-13 episodes is really good and it also, as a viewer, don’t feel exhausting to even think about watching it.
    I do feel like, and I’m speaking hypothetically since I’m not a writer, you can REALLY develop a character if you want to in a 22-episode procedural, sure, there’s the case of the week, but you are always creating little nuances here and there for your characters that add to a big thing that will eventually happen, or not, but you are creating something. That was quite seen on the early days of Grey’s, Lost, but it got lost (no pun intended) with time.

    There’s a really good example of a series like that, that never failed me as a viewer tho, and it’s Elementary.

    Please! These gays, they're trying to murder me!

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    helv606
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    #1205187295

    I dont miss the 13 episode season on cable, HBO, FX and other basic cable networks for hour long dramas. That being said, and this has not been brought up yet, I dislike episodes of televison that are signficantly longer than 60 minutes. If the showrunners/writers need more time to tell the story, I would rather have 12-13 hour long episodes than ten “super sized” episodes.

    Reboot (Hulu). Yes the season barely felt like it had started with 8 episodes, streamers might want to consider doing 13 episodes for their comedies.

    Limited series. I have watched several limited series this past year and all of them could have benefited from having 1-2 fewer episodes.

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    adriandecker770
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    #1205187330

    Strongly agree with the 60+ minute comment, I feel like the 40-50 minute range is my ideal episode length. I don’t mind it going longer if they’re doing something interesting (I feel like The Underground Railroad justified it last year) but a lot of times it just gets exhausting

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