September 23, 2023


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Why TV Present Seasons Are So A lot Shorter Than They Used To Be

6 min read

TV present seasons are shorter than they’ve been prior to now – and there is a good purpose why. For many years, it was pure for all sorts of exhibits, from sitcoms to dramas, to have 20+ episode seasons. Nevertheless, in recent times, the episode counts for tv collection have dwindled. For instance: again in 1972, the sitcom MASH‘s first season had 24 episodes; 50 years later, in 2022, comedy-drama The Bear solely had 8 episodes in its first season. The tv trade has shifted through the years, and this has affected the size of TV seasons, with typical 22-episode seasons changing into rarer lately.


There is not one clear-cut origin for the origin of 20+ episode seasons, although there’s a motivation that helps clarify why tv seasons was longer. A giant motivator for longer tv seasons was undoubtedly syndication; tv collection typically certified for syndication after airing 100 episodes, which may very well be achieved after 4 or 5 seasons. Reruns have been a worthwhile enterprise for tv manufacturing corporations, so it made sense for exhibits to have longer seasons to be able to hit that threshold for syndication. Although the size of TV present seasons has modified for cable and streaming, there are nonetheless broadcast community collection that adhere to the 22-episode mannequin.

TV Seasons Grew to become Shorter Round The Time Of 2007’s Writers’ Strike

liz lemon in 30 rock

The 2007-08 Writers Guild of America strike led to many exhibits shortening their seasons. This was performed out of necessity; manufacturing on exhibits was interrupted because of the strike, and plenty of exhibits have been unable to finish full season orders. A giant instance is Misplaced season 4, which initially deliberate to air 16 episodes. Eight episodes aired earlier than the 2007 author’s strike, and after the strike, solely 5 extra episodes have been produced to finish the season. Different exhibits’ seasons affected by the strike included 30 Rock (initially 22 episodes however shortened to fifteen), Gray’s Anatomy (shortened from 23 episodes to 19), and Determined Housewives (shortened from 23 episodes to 17).

Associated: Why Misplaced Season 4 May (& Ought to) Have Ended The Present

Although the 2007 author’s strike prompted exhibits to have shorter seasons, this did not come on the sacrifice of high quality, not less than for some applications. 30 Rock season 2 continues to be a hilarious season of tv regardless of not having a full tv season. The identical could be mentioned for The Workplace season 4, which aired “Dinner Occasion,” certainly one of The Workplace‘s finest episodes, after the author’s strike ended. Friday Evening Lights, which had a shaky second season, was in a position to retool the present and make it extra streamlined through the lengthy hole between the second and third seasons. The author’s strike proved “high quality over amount” concerning tv seasons.

The Rise Of Streaming Inspired Shorter TV Seasons

Composite image of Max and the cast of Stranger Things

As a result of rise of streaming platforms akin to Netflix, shorter tv seasons have been inspired. In 2013, Netflix made its first foray into creating authentic programming with Home of Playing cards and Orange is the New Black, collection whose debut seasons solely consisted of 13 episodes every. Since streaming platforms do not need to take breaks throughout summer time and winter like broadcast networks did, they will drop whole seasons of a present directly as a substitute of spreading out a season’s episodes over a number of months. Cable networks like HBO and AMC had already gotten into the behavior of manufacturing shorter, 10-13 episode seasons, however streaming companies introduced this follow into the mainstream.

Associated: The 50 Finest TV Reveals On Netflix

The short-moving, binge-watching nature of streaming lends itself higher to 10-12 episode seasons slightly than 20 episodes or extra. Whereas it is not unattainable to binge a 22-episode season, shorter seasons make for a faster and simpler binge. One other profit to shorter seasons on streaming is the truth that streaming companies haven’t got to fret about qualifying for syndication, so the outdated 100-episode rule was made irrelevant. This removes a whole lot of the necessity for 20+ episode seasons since there isn’t any want for streaming companies to lease their exhibits to different networks to allow them to air reruns.

Shorter TV Seasons Are Far Much less Dangerous

Catherine and peter sit together in The Great.

Shorter TV seasons are much less of a threat for networks. Beforehand, a TV present might flop and have 15 episodes nonetheless to run, forcing the community to both cancel it halfway and minimize losses, or proceed flogging it. With shorter seasons, networks can higher reply to fan calls for. In fact, a shorter TV present might additionally bomb, but it surely’s much less of a loss than a 22-episode present being unsuccessful with audiences. An extended tv season flopping is a big threat for networks as a result of that is extra money and time poured into extra episodes.

Why Shorter TV Seasons Can Imply Higher TV

Close up on Carmen in The Bear season 2 key art

Shorter TV seasons can typically result in higher tv. TV exhibits with 20+ episode seasons typically had filler episodes that have been irrelevant to the plot. When a present solely has 10 episodes to work with, the narrative turns into extra streamlined and exhibits can typically inform a greater story while not having so as to add filler. It may be argued that filler episodes are wanted to offer character growth, and a few of them are genuinely nice, just like the Neighborhood season 2 episode “Cooperative Calligraphy” or Jon Hamm’s favourite episode of Mad Males, “The Suitcase.” Nevertheless, not all filler episodes are good, and a few longer seasons are typically padded with pointless filler.

Check out Stranger Issues, for instance. The Netflix collection is ready to inform a compelling story in 8 or 9 episodes. If Stranger Issues was a 22-episode collection, there would definitely be extra filler and the plot’s pacing would definitely be affected. An eight-episode season does not appear to be a whole lot of episodes, however the Stranger Issues writers handle to pack in sufficient plot, motion, and character growth in a shorter season. Many shorter seasons are in a position to present high quality content material. There are nonetheless entertaining applications with 20+ episodes, such because the 22-episode Abbott Elementary season 2, however a whole lot of the perfect exhibits on TV have shorter seasons.

TV Manufacturing Values Have Elevated (& So Have Budgets)

Ellie and Joel looking out at the plains in The Last of Us

Lately, tv manufacturing values and budgets have elevated. Main stars akin to Reese Witherspoon are doing TV exhibits extra typically in comparison with the previous, and TV manufacturing has stepped up, making the distinction in manufacturing values between motion pictures and TV just about nonexistent. Budgets have additionally elevated as a result of needing to pay the salaries of main stars and preserve high quality manufacturing values with facets akin to particular results and filming areas. With budgets for tv exhibits ballooning, it is sensible that fewer episodes can be produced, as that will imply much less cash for studios to need to spend on a present.

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With sure exhibits akin to The Final of Us, budgets would not be capable of maintain such a high-quality product for 22 episodes. The Final of Us manages to inform an amazing story in solely 9 episodes, which is healthier for the present than making an attempt to increase it and have HBO spend much more cash on a present earlier than they have been positive it was going to be a success. Tv has modified rather a lot because the community period of the Nineteen Fifties-Eighties; again then, one season of the influential I Love Lucy ran for 35 episodes. TV present seasons are a lot shorter now, however they’re nonetheless able to delivering entertaining tales.

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