US TV shows are ending earlier than usual, and that’s a good thing | Stuart Legacy

IIt used to be so easy to tell the difference between a UK TV show and an American show. The British show would have a maximum of 12 episodes, and the American one would have several hundred, and would run for around a decade and a half.

And that meant they had to be seen in a different way. Those long-running American shows — think Grey’s Anatomy or NCIS or even 24 — had a habit of repeating themselves for so long that quality control became far less important than just keeping the train rolling. To think of a show like this is to think of a show that burst out doors with a ton of promise, then dwindled to less applause and a smaller audience until the network do the decent thing and cancel them. It’s pretty much the TV equivalent of wanting to break up with someone but, rather than just dumping them, just deciding to become more distant out of neglect until they can’t take it anymore and break up with you. .

However, a recent series of broadcasts show that this may no longer be the case. Two shows are ending this month on their terms. Bill Hader’s Barry is only two episodes left and, if this final season is any indication, promises to be released on an unabashedly final note.

And then there is Succession. Judging by interviews with Jesse Armstrong, Succession is less building towards a blissful climax and more just coming to a halt. Armstrong admitted that the show could very well continue churning out episodes for like, say, Billions of years. And the ending is apparently so abrupt that Sarah Snook didn’t even have a clue things were coming to an end until Armstrong mentioned it during the final table read. Obviously, this is Succession, so it’s bound to have a satisfying and complex ending, but Armstrong’s decision to end things on his own terms is admirable. Would we be happier if Season 5 of Succession was already scheduled for November 2024? Maybe. But would our enjoyment of the show diminish with each new realization that Armstrong was just shuffling the pieces around a chessboard until people stopped watching? Absolutely.

Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Photography: Philippe Antonello/AP

Nor are these isolated incidents. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is also coming to an end. And, while it’s one of those shows that seems to have been around forever, no doubt in part because of its prolonged awards season dominance, it’s ending after just over 43 episodes. Again, the show has the bones of something that could very happily move forward until the cast reaches the point of decrepitude, so the decision to cut things at their peak should be applauded.

A few other shows that are ending soon are slightly different. Yellowstone is coming to an end, but that seems to be partly because Kevin Costner possesses the temperamental nature of a classic movie star, and partly because at this point the extended universe of Yellowstone spans about a million different shows – but somehow entirely identical. and the loss of one barely affects things. Similarly, Ted Lasso is coming to an end after just three seasons, but that mostly seems to be down to him making his entire cast megastars (we’re gonna be in Marvel movies! We’re introducing Eurovision !) and a little football sitcom can only pack so much star power.

Obviously, there are downsides to this tendency to jump out of the car before it falls off a cliff. The WGA strike is, in part, a protest against TV series receiving reduced episode orders because they foster an atmosphere of insecurity for writers, many of whom have to step down for relief jobs between gigs. because the current system does not pay. them enough. And you have to assume that’s partly a reaction to the cutthroat nature of the streaming model, which tends to kick under a show when it’s determined that it doesn’t bring plus a sufficient number of new subscribers. Consider Glow. Consider the Santa Clarita Diet. Think of all the other shows that have been tossed into oblivion by executives without warning. Now, rather than face such indignity, wouldn’t you want to get in and out as quickly as possible? Of course you would.

But despite this, the trend is good news for the viewer. In the years to come, when we think of Barry or Succession, we’ll think of brawny, brave shows that had the guts to burst in, tell the story they wanted, and walk away. No bad seasons. No sluggish wheel spin. No crazy new character is introduced after seven years to cover up the sudden loss of a cast member. Just a good succinct narration. So many shows could learn from Barry and Succession. Hopefully this continues forever.

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