Before streaming invaded the world of television, 20-30 minute TV episodes were reserved for sitcoms; the dramas were almost always longer. These days, episodes of any show are free to have virtually any length. The FX drama on Hulu, the bear, earns plenty of accolades – from a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes to another second season renewal. One thing that sets this series apart is its unusual and captivating pace. And, one thing that makes this beat work so well is its surprisingly short episodes. In his unique success, the bear argues that shorter TV episodes should be here to stay.
One of the things that defines the bear apart from the way he feeds on his naturalism, from his dialogue to his acting, the bear aims to feel real, gritty and flawed. This allows viewers to easily immerse themselves in the story as if they were watching an actual drama unfold. something that initiates the bear uniquely accomplishing this is its often relentlessly accelerated pace. Everything on the bear is fast-paced and offers its audience a viscerally engaging experience. The effect of this works to the advantage of the plot. A big part of the story is how overwhelmed Carmen was (Jeremy Allen White) is with the cards dealt to him. And, by design, the bearThe pace of allows viewers to feel overwhelmed with it.
The effectiveness of the bearthe unexpected whirlwind rhythm is not just an effect of how the narrative unfolds. This is also an effect of the short episodes of the series. While almost anything goes when it comes to episode lengths in the streaming world, it’s still unexpected and new for drama to be delivered in the style of 30-minute episodes. the bear proves, however, that other dramas would be wise to consider doing the same.
The natural argument against dramas with 30-minute episodes is, of course, how long an episode should let its story breathe and how much ground can be covered in the allotted time. In a comedy, that’s often not as necessary, and as a result, we’re used to seeing comedies with episodes that feel like quick dives into the show’s world. Dramas, on the other hand, are bound to accomplish a lot more. As viewers, we tend to expect a drama series to be a bit like a movie. And, the more streaming can circumvent the old rules, the more drama series seem to dare to venture into feature-length territory. What stranger things 4 just successful with its long cinematic episodes is a perfect example.
Yet the more the limits and boundaries of television change and diminish and the more shows are asked to experiment, the more series would do well to think of every aspect of how they are delivered to their audiences as something that can work at the advantage. of their storytelling. Good dramatic storytelling is no longer something that needs to be accomplished in 40-minute chunks and squashed between commercial breaks. The rules and possibilities change, and as the capacity for variety increases, so do the expectations and appreciation for original thought.
To imagine the bear to tell its story via hour-long episodes is to imagine an entirely different series, and it’s safe to say that this series wouldn’t tell its specific story as well. As viewers, our experience with the restaurant at the center of the show, The Beef, is very similar to Carmine’s. The public and Carmine are immersed in this situation. Getting into watching this series from the start is a bit like jumping on a train as it speeds past you. The story has no interest in slowing down to let you on board. Rather, it functions as if it was moving at that rate before you entered and will continue to move at that rate if you choose to leave. This goes a long way to add to the series’ impressive feat of realism. In the real world, stories don’t start with a pilot and end with a finale; they go on ad infinitum.
With its fast and hard-hitting episodes, the bear perfectly mimics this fact of life. It feels like real life while creating urgency and adding to the stakes. Hour-long episodes would entirely alter the feel of the show and make its episodes drag and often feel like too much of a task to bear. With its short episodes, on the other hand, viewers are free to consume exactly as much as they are personally able to bear. It’s a perfect way to introduce a series that, like this, drops a season all at once. Viewers watch it at their own pace and learn to synchronize their own needs with the rhythm of the show. It’s both easy to binge-watch — letting one episode flow seamlessly into the next — and easy to consume in small bites. Sometimes spending half an hour watching an episode of the bear is like the goldilocks of TV shows: it’s “just right”. More would be too much and too overwhelming. Thus, the 30-minute episodes effectively allow After drama, rather than less – as one might expect. Episodes are free to be as intense as they are due to their length. And, viewers can make their own decisions as to whether or not they should continue to exist in the show’s fast-paced, hectic cooking or whether they should take a break until tomorrow.
One wouldn’t normally expect 30-minute episodes for tense, fast-paced, emotional drama to be an ideal format. But for the bearthese fast-paced episodes only add to what makes this series so moving and intensely watchable. the bear took a risk with those short bursts of high energy, and the risk paid off. In doing so, it has become clear that in an age where television is entirely different than it was in the past, audiences are also ready for entirely different formats. Series are no longer packaged as they once were, and therefore out-of-the-box choices are welcome. Experimenting with episode length may no longer be about timeslots, advertising, or outdated ideas. Rather, it is time for program formats to adapt to the stories they aim to tell. And, the bear proves that a story about a fast-paced kitchen belongs in a fast-paced show.