Cinema has changed a lot in the last fifteen or so years. The advent of streaming services, and the subsequent multiplication of platforms to choose from, have changed how movies and TV shows are made. Back then, movies were made for theaters and the DVD release, and TV shows were made to air episode by episode.
Now, however? Movies and TV shows are designed to release on streaming services. Movies still hit theaters, but more than a few simply go straight to a streaming platform for judgement. TV shows have changed even more so; now, instead of waiting for a new episode every week, most shows will simply drop the entire season all at once and let the viewers binge it in a single day.
It stayed that way for a very long time. In the last two years, however, things have changed yet again. Theaters were shut down due to a global pandemic and productions became difficult to go forward with. More and more people were at home, watching shows and movies at a rapid pace and desperately wanting for more. So filmmakers have had to adjust.
This brings us to the topic of this article: the rise of TV shows designed for streaming. Or as I like to call them: the movies with filler in them.
A lot of big-budget film studios have adjusted from making movies to focusing more strongly on TV shows. Marvel and Star Wars are the obvious examples, with their expansive list of shows that deliver content adjacent to the main movies. But it’s not just them. Many other studios are getting their franchises in it. Not just the obvious ones, like all the Netflix shows. AMC sort of did this with the final season of ‘Better Call Saul’, delivering it in two halves at different times. They’re even making a TV follow-up to ‘Knives Out’.
In theory, this isn’t a problem. People want more stuff to watch, so studios fix this problem by simply giving them longer products to watch. Why waste two hours watching a movie when you can spend ten hours watching a television series? The perfect solution to the problem the pandemic presented.
However, there is a problem with that. Mainly that many of these stories feel like movies that get dragged out into the TV format. They take stories that would be better executed in a shorter format and drag them out for as long as is possible.
Take the recent ‘Obi-Wan’ show, for example. People often forget that the show was officially announced years ago. Back then, it was supposed to be a movie. However, due to the pandemic and the success of other spin-off shows in the same franchise, it was instead made into a show. Thus they added tons of stuff that doesn’t really matter, like side characters and subplots that don’t tie into the main narrative in an organic way, to stretch out the narrative to fit the new format.
You know what it feels like? It feels like watching an episode of an anime on YouTube back in 2007. Only instead of each individual part being two or three minutes long, they’re stretched out into twenty or even fifty minutes!
Stretching out these shorter stories feels like squeezing a sponge. Sure, you’re technically getting the most out of the narrative. But squeeze too hard for too long and eventually you just get a little crusty rock. Maybe I’m just an impatient person who enjoys more focused stories. Maybe I just don’t get it.
Times change. That’s just what they do. The industry of cinema has changed rather quickly along with it. I only hope that we don’t end up regretting this change a year or two from now.
But who knows? Maybe it’ll change again soon and this whole article will be a relic of the past.