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Has the Rise of the Binge-Worthy Show Lost the Plot?
Prior to streaming services, a tv series, even a show with a serialized narrative, was still generally episodic and formulaic. The traditional five-act structure presented a full story in each episode, so, in a serialized show, each episode had a clear beginning, middle, and end, almost like chapters in a novel. Has the intentionally binge-worthy show broken or abandoned this structure? When the goal is to keep eyes on the screen and increase minutes watched, a streamed serialized episode frequently seems less like a chapter and more like a chapter cut off mid-sentence. It’s an effective way to keep viewers, but at what cost? Does this narrative strategy abandon narrative principles like actually building and modulating tension, and instead rely on instant gratification and cheap suspense? Is the intentionally binge-worthy show creating a new structure or formula for plotting a tv series? If so, what might that structure look like?
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