Television shows are too long.
Last week, I made the case that Netflix should either cut back on its hourlong shows (especially ones with long seasons) or offer subscribers the ability to watch in double speed (as you can do with podcasts and YouTube videos).
Of course, there’s another alternative: Netflix could just make shorter television series.
Nobody should waste a dozen or more hours on a mediocre show. Finding the time even to do so feels increasingly impossible when juggling a busy schedule and an ever-growing range of entertainment options.
I honestly can’t believe there was a time in my life when I watched the roughly 80 hours required to get through all of “Gossip Girl.” I guess that’s where my youth went.
Short shows offer some respite. An hour saved is an hour earned, and time is money, so watching shorter shows could also make you rich. Maybe if millennials would simply stop bingeing long shows and refrain from avocado toast, they could become billionaires, buy Netflix and then ban long shows forever, thus freeing up even more time and money. That’s math.
Thankfully, Netflix has begun experimenting with shorter runtimes.
In the list below, I recommend five shows that all have episodes with runtimes in the teens. Choose these short shows and be grateful for the hours and hours of life you just got back.
Premise: In this sketch comedy show, Tim Robinson and other comedic actors play different foolish characters with heightened absurdity. I ranked this as one of the best Netflix shows of 2019.
Setting: Los Angeles
Runtime: The series currently has one season of six episodes with roughly 16-minute runtimes.
Notable Cast: Tim Robinson, along with a deep cast of comedy guest stars such as Vanessa Bayer, Will Forte, Tim Heidecker, Sam Richardson and Cecily Strong.
Premise: In this superpower teen drama, a young woman in high school discovers she can control (and destroy) things with her mind as she grieves the suicide of her father. I wrote about “I Am Not Okay With This” in length when it debuted last month.
Setting: A suburb of Pittsburgh
Runtime: The series currently has one season of seven episodes with roughly 20-minute runtimes. Two of the episodes are only 19 minutes.
Notable Cast: Sofia Bryant, Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff and Kathleen Rose Perkins.
Premise: In this 20-something comedy, a man with cerebral palsy tries to hide his disability while working for a clickbait content website. Creator and star Ryan O’Connell loosely based the show on his memoir, “I’m Special.”
Setting: Los Angeles
Runtime: The series currently has one season of eight episodes with roughly 14-minute runtimes.
Notable Cast: Jessica Hecht, Marla Mindelle, Ryan O’Connell and Punam Patel.
Premise: In this comedic interview series, Jerry Seinfeld drives famous comedians around in fancy cars. As one can expect from the title, Seinfeld brings the comedians to coffee shops.
Setting: Global interviews (in cars and coffee shops).
Runtime: The most recent season ran 12 episodes, with an average length of 16 minutes. The episode length varies, though, and the shortest is 12 minutes. (The season premiere with Eddie Murphy is 41 minutes.)
Notable Cast: Jerry Seinfeld with a long list of comedy stars. The most recent season features Eddie Murphy, Seth Rogen and Martin Short.
Premise: In this science fiction anthology series, different casts and creators tackle a short story on the themes listed in the title: love, death and robots. The series oscillates between animation and special effect styles.
Runtime: The series currently has one season of 18 episodes, with most episodes running around 16 minutes. The episode length varies, though, and the shortest is six minutes.
Notable Cast: This changes each episode, and many of the characters are animated, but a few prominent names include Topher Grace, Chris Parnell, Samira Wiley and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.