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There has probably never been a better time to watch TV. No matter what you’re into, there’s at least one show that feels like it was made just for you. This is great, but not everything about watching TV these days is quite so nice.
Think about a few of the shows you watch the most. Unless you only ever watch live sports, chances are good that a few of those shows feel like watching a movie split into multiple installments. When TV shows started doing this, it felt like a revelation… but now it’s starting to feel like a chore.
Are You Sure Where You’re Going?
The biggest issue with the over-serialized nature of the modern TV show is that they act like they have a grand plan that they’re working on bringing to life, but even the writers of the show don’t know where they’re heading. Remember the ending to that one show you hated? It doesn’t matter which one, but this is probably the reason why you disliked it so much.
It’s even more of a problem when shows get cancelled, as happens to roughly 90 percent of Netflix originals. These shows start off with great big plans for a plot that’s supposed to play out over 5 to 10 seasons, then get cancelled after their second season.
Bingeing Shouldn’t Be Mandatory
There are plenty of people who can’t wait until a new show comes out so they can watch the entire season over the course of a day or two. If this is how you want to live, that’s fine—but it becomes a problem when TV producers start assuming that all viewers are going to binge-watch every episode back-to-back.
If you’re the kind of viewer who needs a few days or weeks between episodes and you watch one of these shows designed to be binge-watched, you’re going to feel totally lost. The writers never planned on you waiting that long.
Have You Got Your Notes?
If you like to watch several shows at once, it can be surprisingly tough to keep all the characters and plotlines in order, especially if you aren’t bingeing your way through them. Who’s that guy again and what’s the deal with that thing in their eye? Was that explained already or is it supposed to be a mystery?
As shows ramp up the serialization to insane levels, it feels like we as the viewers are supposed to be taking notes so we don’t forget every little hint dropped along the way. It might be tolerable for one TV show, but when the majority of them expect this, relaxing on the couch can feel a little too much like work.
Some Shows Are Doing It Right
Sure, most shows are taking a page out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s book when it comes to ending episodes on “Wait, why?” cliffhangers. But there’s one super-popular show that’s doing it right: The Mandalorian.
The first season of the Disney+ original was a slow burn, carefully building the world and cast of characters without giving mysteries away too quickly. The second season, with the setting and characters established, could focus on working out the overall story—yet in a way that maintains an episodic nature. Each episode of The Mandalorian has its own start, middle, and end, meaning each episode feels satisfying to watch on its own.
Is The Mandalorian the only show handling its story this way? Of course not. But with so many stories relying on heavy serialization, it’s a good blueprint for how to do things another way.
Netflix Ain’t What It Used to Be
While Netflix helped to usher in the era of binge watching and over-serialized shows, now it’s beginning to suffer from it. Other companies jumped on the bandwagon and now many of them are beginning to eat Netflix’s lunch.
Just take a look at our reasons why Netflix is starting to fall short.