TV Is Getting 'Supersized' —and Annoying

'NYT' critic James Poniewozik says episodes are becoming more and more bloated
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2016 10:03 AM CDT
TV Is Getting 'Supersized' —and Annoying
Fast-forwarding through the fluff.   (Shutterstock)

These days there's said to be "too much TV to choose from," but according to TV critic James Poniewozik writing for the New York Times, there's another prevalent problem: too-big TV, or what he refers to as TV that's "come down with a case of gigantism." He comes down against the trend of bloated shows, forcing viewers to watch longer and longer episodes that surpass the usual 30- and 60-minute time slots we've grown accustomed to—or, as he calls it, TV that was previously formatted like a "container ship," with shows that "had to fit standard boxes for ease of shipping" so networks could best plan schedules and box out time for affiliates. "We're lucky to live in a time when TV creators have freedom from arbitrary constraints," Poniewozik writes. "But more and more of my TV watching these days involves starting an episode, looking at the number of minutes on the playback bar and silently cursing."

Poniewozik blames part of this "supersized" movement on streaming TV, noting that viewers will often sit for a binge session in front of a Netflix or Amazon show, and so don't think too much of a network or basic-cable drama that runs five, 10, or 15 minutes past its usual allotted time. Not that Poniewozik doesn't think this option is ever put to good use: He acknowledges that "extended episodes can make room for complexity," citing recent episodes of Louis CK's Horace and Pete, which "make the most of each moment" instead of filling them with … well, filler. But he notes a show needs "focus and showmanship" to pull this type of longform off, and that while "I appreciate ambitious storytelling … I also appreciate getting a full night's sleep." (His full piece here.)

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