I know we’ve all heard the saying “television is dead” with streaming platforms such as Netflix and Hulu often being accredited as the culprits. However, like everything else in life, it is a little more complex than that. I believe that instead of “killing” television, that the streaming age has simply changed, or evolved, the format to something greater.
In the age of streaming service, we have seen TV shows’ seasons become notably shorter and more cinematic. Netflix greatly changed television by producing and releasing shows that feel more like movies that are told in parts instead of feeling like an entirely different format. This is because of the release of a full season on the platform that has completely changed the viewing experience for consumers.
Having the full seasons of shows available from the start allows for binging. Writers of shows that were going to be on Netflix began to take advantage of the fact that an audience could watch the whole season in one sitting if they pleased. These new storytelling techniques being used took advantage of the lack of time that audiences would spend away from the show between episodes.
The idea of the cliffhanger was around before streaming, but even that had its limits. Whereas today, there are no limits to the possibilities. Viewers don’t have to spend time catching up on what happened in the last episode because they just watched it. This allows for moments like in Bojack Horseman, where a character starts a statement at the end of one episode that gets finished right at the beginning of the next episode. In this case that was done for comedic effect but being able to binge allows for shows to be more cinematic and cohesive because there is less time spent rehashing what has happened before, episodes don’t to have conclusive endings to make sure that fans aren’t unhappy waiting for the next episode. The streaming age has opened up a new realm of possibilities when I come to TV storytelling.