TV Critics Analyze the Industry In Reddit AMA

Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz, acclaimed authors and television critics for and, recently collaborated together for a new publication, “TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time.”

To promote its release, which occurred just last week on September 6, the pair participated in a Reddit AMA session, where they commented on the state of the TV industry, streaming/OTT and top television shows.

Here, find their intriguing answers to questions from readers that involve these topics.

The Future of TV

Q: “Do you think the (so-called) "Too-Much-TV" bubble will burst? Or has television taken some of the space movies used to occupy for good?”

Matt: Every bubble bursts eventually. I'd argue that the bubble might've burst for mainstream Hollywood studio films, probably sometime in the last five or ten years, and we're only now starting to figure it out. There are outlier hits, still, but much of the cultural excitement has moved to television, deservedly so, as you are more likely to see actual human adults on scripted TV than in most mainstream films.

Q: Do either of you have any particular hopes for where television as a whole might go from here, i.e. what trends and/or standards they might pursue more vigorously or discard entirely?

Matt: I think we're going to see a gradual shift away from long-form, serialized narratives because they don't fit the reality of people's lives anymore. Things are so fragmented now and the number one complaint I hear from a lot of people is that it's harder to concentrate on anything and that there's so much interesting or good stuff on TV that it's physically impossible to follow it all; there just aren't enough hours in a day.

The anthology format where the unit of measure is the season, as opposed to the episode, will benefit tremendously from this shift, I bet.

Q: Which peak TV show will likely get remade/rebooted the fastest?

Alan: At some point ABC will probably try to do a remade/rebooted LOST without Lindelof and Cuse.
Matt: What Alan said. There's too much money to be made for them not to try to do Lost again.


Q: Are you guys subscribed to all the streaming services? What do you think are strong suits of each and what they all could do better?

Alan: I have Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu subscriptions. Netflix has the best interface, and the biggest and most diverse array of original programming. Hulu probably has the best overall library of older shows right now, and I like that they are trying to release their original shows weekly, even if it doesn't always suit the show. (Casual is a much better binge, for instance.) Amazon has library rights to a bunch of my favorite shows that aren't available on the other services, like Americans and Hannibal, and Transparent is probably the best of all the original streaming series.
I talked before about how I think Netflix needs to rediscover the importance of the individual episode, which I also write about for HitFix a while back

Q: How do you feel about streaming shows being treated as 8-13 hour long movies? Because I can't help but feel that's the main negative when I watch a Netflix drama. Even the ones I've enjoyed like Jessica Jones, I wish that they'd been tighter 8-10 episode shows with sub-50 minute running times.

TV (The Book)

Alan: I think that's a problem, as I've written about elsewhere in this AMA. Shorter seasons, shorter episodes, and more clearly-defined episodes would all help most of their shows.

Q: What can networks learn from the success of Netflix and other streaming services that have started providing their own critically acclaimed content? Subsequently, what can Netflix learn from networks and "the old way" of providing television content?

Alan: On the latter question, I think Netflix is sometimes too quick to rest on its own laurels and say that they're creating this new artform of the 10 or 13-hour movie, when virtually every Netflix series that's designed that way tends to really sag in the middle, and/or have a lot of dumb plot points (the Jessica Jones coffee shop scene), or not be rewatchable in the same way that other binge-able shows with clearly delineated classic episodes like a Breaking Bad might be.

On the former, I think it's become very clear that a lot of viewers want to be able to consume seasons of shows all at once, and we're seeing some traditional TV outfits dip a few toes in that water, like Starz putting all of The Girlfriend Experience online at once, or NBC with Aquarius. It's a tough balance, because that's not how those outfits tend to make their money, but it's what at least some of the audience wants, so they have to figure out how to tweak the business model.

Matt: This is a pet hobby horse of mine, so forgive me if this is repetitious, but: Not every idea needs to be an ongoing series. Not every idea needs to have a 10 or thirteen episode season as opposed to four or six. Netflix, the networks, cable, could all improve tremendously if they would accept this. But they won't because they are too attached to profits.

Author: Brian Cameron


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