It’s now possible to watch an entire season of a TV show in a couple of nights. If you don’t have to get up too early the next day, a long night will do the trick. 

Robin Sloan argues that we miss something when we binge, and not just commercial breaks. Episodes have creative as well as commercial weight.

“Delay, withhold, restrict, release: This is storytelling 101, Scheherazade stuff, and it’s deeper than marketing and distribution. We bring all of our creative talents to bear on matters of plot and character; the anticipation that precedes and interpenetrates a story deserves no less. More than ever, the shape of a season can be designed and managed. More than ever, anticipation can be art-directed.”

He wants to see the same episodic patterns in video games and books too: “seasons of TV have become potent, flexible bundles of content, and the design of a season’s shape and its pace and all the attendant anticipation is a task that’s suddenly super interesting, super creative. I think there’s a real opportunity now to splice this seasonal thinking and the fun of waiting (but not for too long) into other media.”

More on: TV

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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