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Streaming Services as the Savior of Screenwriting

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There has been recent talk on social media about the nostalgic remembrance of 22 episode television seasons. Now this really just points to the masses understanding nothing about the writing process or the industry as a whole. These same masses will complain about the last 4 seasons of Supernatural or the last 2 seasons of Lost, well these poorly written and developed endings were due to network interference and 22 episode seasons. 

We know that studio interference affects the quality of films (not nearly as much as certain fanbases seem to think, but that’s a different line of commentary), in the same vein networks affect the quality of television shows. I believe that it’s universally agreed upon that the last 8-10 seasons of Supernatural were a little rough and it only got worse as the series went on. The fanbase stayed loyal out of love for the actors but even we are willing to admit that the show wasn’t good anymore. The reason for this is simple, the show was only planned out for 5 seasons. Erik Kripke had a plan, it was well thought out and developed but then the network started making money…with a loyal fan base and a cast that was willing to keep that fanbase happy the show had to go on. The poor screenwriters were then forced to try and keep us entertained for another 10 seasons, at 22 episodes a season. Network greed is a common cause for shows that ended badly. 

Now let’s talk about those 22 episodes a season, generally speaking networks didn’t make money until after 100 episodes so you had to be fleshed out at least till then. What streaming services have done is given creatives the opportunity to tell the stories they want to tell, their way. The chance to tell self contained stories allows writers to take exactly how long they need to tell their story. Whether it’s 8 episodes or 13 writers aren’t forced to pad their seasons with unnecessary filler. The BBC is the prime example of a network that didn’t strangle their writers with these requirements; Doctor Who, Sherlock, Merlin all have vastly different formats and yet were/are wildly successful shows because the stories were phenomenal. Most streaming originals tell incredible self contained stories because they are created with freedom; The Boys, Only Murders in This Building, Stranger Things, these stories are good because the people telling them don’t HAVE to do anything that will hurt their narrative. 

So you may miss filler episodes, but frankly I don’t care because stories are simply better now.

6 responses to “Streaming Services as the Savior of Screenwriting”

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