The Rise of the Miniseries

Miniseries (a.k.a. anthology, limited, event, or serial, depending on your region) have been on the rise in almost every outlet. Netflix, Hulu, HBO, National Geographic, and so many others have hopped on board the miniseries train, releasing super binge-able shows in small packages. Meaning, the shows have a pre-defined number of episodes instead of being on-going, like a long-running TV show.

They attract actors, as they’re typically short projects to work on and not a huge commitment compared to years-long shows. They also offer writers of all levels and backgrounds a creative outlet where anyone can thrive.

Because these types of shows have a distinct beginning, middle, and end, with no intention of running for years, they allow for strong character and storyline development. Miniseries also make for an excellent rendition of books, since they allow the writers to dive deeper into the storyline rather than try to pack the whole thing into one 2-hour movie.

For example, HBO released Big Little Lies, based on the book by Laine Moriarty. The show features Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, AND Shailene Woodley. It follows the story of three mothers whose lives “unravel to the point of murder.” 2 seasons, each with seven episodes, give the book the screen rendition it truly deserves.

Perhaps one of the most iconic miniseries of 2019 is Chernobyl, an HBO show based on the catastrophic events on April 26, 1986, at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The show quickly went viral and has been nominated for 19 Emmys (and won 10), including Outstanding Limited Series. The show consisted of 5 episodes and did a thorough job of going over the events and people who helped save Europe from an inevitable disaster, instead of rushing the story into a short documentary.

Netflix’s When They See Us is another Emmy winning miniseries about five Harlem teens who are falsely accused of attacking a jogger in Central Park in 1989. Based on the true story, this 4-part series brings the story to life and gives great detail on the events that took place and how lives were affected.

Catch-22 from Hulu is a miniseries adaptation of the 1961 book of the same name by Joseph Heller. It’s six episodes tell the tale of an American bomber in Italy in World War II who discovers the bureaucracy is just as dangerous as the war.

It seems that whichever way you turn, more and more miniseries are hitting the airwaves. Streaming services and major networks are releasing their own projects, and we are loving it. These short series are perfect for binge-watching (without requiring too much commitment) and pack a lot of plot and character development into an easy to swallow (hypothetical) pill. We don’t see their popularity fading anytime soon!



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