Why Are Popular TV Shows Splitting Seasons?


I lately noticed a meme that so completely represented me, I felt compelled to swap it in for all figuring out data on my social media accounts. It’s a 20-second clip of Millhouse from “The Simpsons” enjoying the saddest sport of solo frisbee possible. The accompanying textual content? “When you’re that one friend that doesn’t watch ‘Game of Thrones.'”

This is so actually me, it nearly introduced me to tears. On a gaggle trip final 12 months, all 10 of my girlfriends sat rapt within the rental home watching Beyonce’s “Lemonade” movie after its shock premiere. But when it was over, everybody round me clamored for the distant. The “Game of Thrones” season premiere stole the highlight, and I, the lone dragon-illiterate group member, retired to a different room.

All of that is to say, no, I do not watch “Game of Thrones.” But I’m surrounded by family members who very passionately do, and as I’ve heard from them — and the outspoken individuals of the interwebs — there merely aren’t sufficient episodes per season to quench their obsessive thirst for extra.

The season seven finale, which aired Aug. 27, 2017, capped a seven-episode story arc, shorter than all of the already-pretty-damn-short 10-episode seasons earlier than it. And in accordance with reviews, season eight — the collection’ final hurrah — will include simply six episodes.

I’ll not know a lot about GOT, however I do know that 10 or fewer episodes doesn’t a real tv season make. I’ve re-watched teen dramas from my youth, and people exhibits have most likely too many episodes in each season. “Dawson’s Creek”? Season six contained 24 episodes. Season 2 of “Gossip Girl” had 25. And “My So-Called Life” consisted of 19 episodes its single premiere season.

And there are many critically acclaimed collection that had extra episodes-per-season again within the day, too. “The West Wing,” “30 Rock” and “ER” all recurrently included 20-plus episodes every season. So why are networks and streaming providers now choosing shorter seasons, even splitting them into 2 shorter segments?

“There are probably at least a half-dozen factors,” says Daniel Fienberg, tv critic for The Hollywood Reporter and president of the Television Critics Association in an electronic mail. For nearly all of viewers, although, it is about semantics, he says. “Technically the last two years of ‘Breaking Bad’ were a single season, but the closing run of ‘Game of Thrones’ is technically two shortened seasons.”

“Breaking Bad,” which wrapped in 2013, break up its last run into 2, eight-episode mini-seasons. AMC did the identical factor for its essential darling “Mad Men,” breaking its last 7th season into 2 seven-episode segments.

“A major part of it is contractual,” Fienberg explains. “A split final season like ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Mad Men’ gets negotiated as a single season, presumably without pay bumps for stars between seasons, but also allows for more episodes either shot all at once or with a long hiatus between ‘halves’ of the season.”

But whereas the ultimate seasons of some exhibits, like “Lost,” are ordered on the identical time below a single contract, Fienberg says “Game of Thrones” was negotiated below barely completely different, however important, circumstances. “The seventh and eighth seasons of ‘Game of Thrones’ were technically ordered separately and the stars got big pay bumps for the eighth season,” he says. “There ends up being some compromise in terms of episode count and episode length.”

But semantics and contracts are simply a part of why exhibits get break up seasons. Fienberg says dividing seasons additionally permits networks to retain brand-making exhibits so long as potential, spreading its stars throughout as many Emmy Awards seasons as potential.

“Jon Hamm, for example, wouldn’t have won his only Emmy for playing Don Draper if the full last season of ‘Mad Men’ had aired in the same year as the second half of the last ‘Breaking Bad’ season,” Fienberg explains.

That’s as a result of Bryan Cranston took residence the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 2014 and “Breaking Bad” took the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. Jon Hamm lastly acquired his Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 2015.

“For audiences, it’s annoying to have these shortened seasons, but if you’re AMC, even a truncated season of an Emmy-winning favorite has perceptual value across the full schedule,” Fienberg says.

And whereas this may occasionally even be the case for “Game of Thrones,” the present has some distinctive causes for splitting its season. “HBO wants to give the series creators as much time as they need to finish the show in the right way,” Fienberg says. “This season will be eligible for the 2018 Emmys. I’d bet that even if the second season is delayed until 2019, it’ll air before the Emmy deadline in late May, so that’ll be eligible for the 2019 Emmys. And the longer things get spread out and delayed, the better chance HBO will have a possible prequel/companion series ready to go.”

So, whereas followers could also be struggling by way of brief/break up seasons now, the disappointing state of affairs may doubtlessly repay within the type of a derivative (perhaps). “If you’re a creator on a show, having one of these split seasons, or having two final seasons gives you a point to aim for, narratively,” Fienberg says. “It lets you know where you’re headed, and how many episodes you have to get there and often gives you a break in the middle for writing or just for preparing for the scale of the closing episodes. Sometimes that results in the first seasons in these runs being more about staging so that the pieces are in place for a big climax, as happened with the two halves of the ‘Breaking Bad’ final season.”

So, the takeaway for all of you “Game of Thrones” followers on the market? Sit again and be affected person as a result of mind-blowing viewing absolutely awaits you. And the takeaway for me is to get my act collectively and catch up earlier than season eight premieres and I lose all my buddies once more.


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