The length of new television shows causes debate

December 30, 2022

Coming across an abrupt cliffhanger finale to a favorite show is a disappointing and rather common occurrence. Many streaming services have recently begun to produce their own original shows, and the one common trend you’ll find amongst each of these original programs is how short the seasons are.

A majority of these shows consist of eight to twelve episodes per season. The low number of episodes per season condenses plotlines and makes the shows very easy to binge watch. Another frequent occurrence in these shows is the long time frame it takes for new seasons to be released.

A prime example of these short shows that take an excessive time to be released is the show, Euphoria. Euphoria is an HBO original that contains two seasons with only eight episodes each. The first season was released in June of 2019, and season 2 began to stream in January of 2022. The show is quick to captivate one’s attention, and then it abruptly comes to an end. Viewers then have to wait a lengthy amount of time for a new season.

While short seasons can be an annoyance to viewers, they make streaming service companies the most money. Many people subscribe to specific streaming services solely to view their original shows. The complication with longer seasons is that people usually have trouble finishing it. Long seasons tend to lose one’s attention quickly mainly because there are too many plot lines to keep track of.

Currently, most shows that are on regular cable still have longer seasons consisting of about twenty episodes. However, streaming service original shows are dominated by short seasons. Cable network shows explore more complex plot lines with plenty of “side” episodes, while streaming service shows tend to get straight to the point. One Cherry Hill High School East student shared how, “[They] prefer long seasons on streaming services because it keeps [her] entertained, and there’s more episodes so [she] doesn’t find [herself] being annoyed by an abrupt ending.” Although long seasons can have too many plot lines and rather boring episodes, short seasons can easily have plot holes or rushed through plots because storylines were not thoroughly explored.

Additionally, streaming services are experts at making viewers binge their shows. Each episode of a show connects and drags the viewer in to making them want to press “next episode.” The biggest point about the short seasons of streaming service original shows is how most are slowly added onto the service for streaming. They might release two episodes or even just one per week. This keeps people tuned in to these shows for a solid five to ten weeks. With longer seasons, streaming services tend to release all of the episodes at the same time.

Binge watching a show or being able to pace oneself is all a matter of preference. It is, however, notable that most streaming services have shifted to producing shorter seasons that take an extensive amount of time to be released.

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