The great thing about television is that the story can go on for as long as you want it to. Whether it’s six and a half hours or two hundred hours, television can take all the time it wants to embody its characters and explore each narrative path. But more recently, some television networks and streaming devices have taken advantage of this flexibility, extending from stories that would normally be a two-hour movie to a limited series of eight, 10 or 12 hours. Simply put: There are a lot of limited series these days that are way too long.
Most recent example: Hulu . docudrama leakage, which premieres next Thursday and stars Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes in the tech world. The rapid rise and fall of Holmes and her Theranos make for a thrilling story, yes, but there’s not enough to justify the eight-hour episodes. (Even the podcast it was based on was only six hours long.) The premiere focuses on Elizabeth’s formative years and college experience — which, in a typical two-hour movie, would have been a flashback of ten minutes at most. But here, we are asked to wade through several hours to get to all the good tricks we came for.
leakage Not alone, though: Excessive limited series is practically an epidemic right now. True crime documentaries seem particularly skewed towards this brand of bloat, with Netflix Anna’s creationApple TV + next door shrink and hollow Pam and Tommy All tested our patience in recent months. The additional runtime theoretically allows these shows to increase their focus on secondary characters and deepen their storytelling. But more often than not, it just ends up being a psychedelic effect, with shows repeating the same story over and over and taking pointless turns to kill time, leaving us exhausted before we even reach the finish line.
So who is responsible for this epidemic? The movie industry is likely to be changing fast: With studios primarily offering superhero fare on a big budget, the kind of mid-range drama we’re used to seeing is now making its way to the small screen. And since TV movies are almost extinct, outside of HBO, the only option is to turn them into a full limited series, which means three or four times the showtime. (This limited series also attracts big stars who want a chance to win an Emmy without committing to an ongoing series.) Plus, with banners touting the number of minutes each series has been watched, there’s an incentive to push these stories beyond storytelling standards. Their natural increase in audience numbers is important.
But we, the viewers, are paying the price. leakage It had some potential, but I couldn’t invest eight hours into a story that could easily be told in two hours. Last year, Andrew Garfield and Jessica Chastain played both famous TV evangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Packer in the theatrical version. Tami Faye’s eyes. Chastain was excellent (and earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actress), and we got to see the full scope of Tammy Faye’s life story in just over two hours. I’m glad I saw it (it’s now airing on HBO Max)…and I’m so glad some networks didn’t try to turn it into a 12-hour miniseries.
Do you agree that limited series takes too long? Hit the comments and trust.