Journal Post #5

October 22, 2014 | Leave a Comment

Anthology series, the new standard of Quality TV?

Lately, we’ve been seeing more and more anthological TV series like ‘Fargo, ‘American Horror Story’, and ‘True Detective’ coming into the scene, and with huge success. These shows are racking up considerable acclaim and prestigious awards. What makes these shows so successful? I believe there are a few factors related to these shows being anthological at play.

Being anthology series, these shows tell a different set of story with different set of characters for a season consisting of ten episodes, practically making the season into a 10-hour long movie with breaks in between. Running the series this way opens up a lot for space for the writers to work on. For one, they do not have to commit to one story for the entirety of the show’s 3-7 seasons. This frees the series from the risk of losing its plot halfway through the season and losing it’s quality. Shows like Lost, Heroes, How I Met Your Mother, and True Blood started off really strong and attracted a lot of viewers with it’s first season, but when they reached their 3rd or 4th season they started to receive criticism because of the story being dragged and stretched out too much, thus slowly losing much of the quality that it has presented with its engaging storyline from its pilot. This will not happen for an anthology series because they wrap up their story in one season. The only risk is that their viewers might complain that the story the loved was too short-lived but personally, I’d rather be left hungry for more than losing love for something because it has been too dragged out. Another risk that this kind of series are exposed to is that a show’s new season may not be as good as the previous ones.

Other than that, Anthology series are attracting more and more talents from Hollywood to add to the quality of the show. Having Hollywood big names associated with the show not only does well in marketing the show and attracting viewers, the experience and acting skills from them enhances the quality of the show’s presentation as well. A great example is True Detective, while the main plot of the show is engaging, the show mainly received wide acclaim for the quality of acting that was presented in it. Who were the actors? Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson; both household names in modern Hollywood. Hollywood stars are more likely to sign on to these shows because they only require a short-term commitment from them, making the TV talent pool much bigger than before.¬†Another reason why anthology series are so popular right now is because of the way TV is consumed today. With the introduction of platforms like Netflix, it is easier to binge-watch these shows. Ten episodes in the Netflix queue is definitely less daunting than a hundred episodes.

These factors are perhaps why anthology series are so popular right now. Big networks and producers are starting to push for this genre following the success of True Detective and Fargo. The flexibility it offers to both the creators and actors in terms of both creativity and commitment the emergence of the online TV platform helps create quality shows that are looking very likely to engage and maintain the audience’s loyalty from season to season.

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