Netflix's new season of Arrested Development, which will hit in May, could be a massive breakthrough for the service—and not (just) because we're all eager to see the Bluths again. At the Television Critics Association press tour, creator Mitch Hurwitz revealed that this batch of episodes, each focusing on a different character, could be watched in any order, with events becoming clearer as viewers watched more episodes. That's a bombshell, writes Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress, because until now, TV has fundamentally been a linear medium.
Netflix is uniquely suited to change that, because it releases episodes all at once, and doesn't need to hang on to viewers week-to-week for advertising purposes. Episodes will also vary in length a little, something Netflix could be much more daring with (imagine a 37-minute episode followed by a 2-hour one) than even HBO. "Up until these announcements, it's really seemed like Netflix was simply chasing broadcast television," Rosenberg writes. Now, she's wondering how some episodic books—World War Z for example—might look as Netflix series, "a thought that has literally never occurred to me about any material before." Read her full column.