Advantages of British Series

This article uses “seasons” when referring to American shows and “series” when talking about British shows. An American season is a British series.

With British programs becoming more popular in the United States, Americans are noticing more and more that a British show can run for 10 years, but only have 32 episodes. A show produced in the United States usually accomplishes that feat in a season and a half, which typically takes place over the course of 18 months. This occurs because British series, which an American would call seasons, range from 6 to 8 episodes; it’s not uncommon for shows to then go on a two year hiatus. American networks like to bang out as many episodes as possible as quick as possible because 100 episodes is the magic number for syndication. Neither system is bad, but the British way of making television has some distinct advantages.

Since British series are shorter, it’s easier to binge watch most series. For example, Doc Martin has been on for 10 years, but only has 46 episodes. It’s easy to get through that in a month. Good luck catching up on an American series, such as House, which aired for 8 years and has 177 episodes, in that period of time. There are American shows that buck the trend, but even Breaking Bad has 68 episodes and it only aired for 5 years.

Because fewer episodes of British shows are produced in a longer period of time, writers don’t get burned out as fast. This is good news because fans get more good episodes and less filler. I’d rather have 8 fantastic episodes than 5 filler episodes, 13 episodes where the writers ran out of ideas, and 4 episodes worth watching. American shows usually get 4 seasons before that scenario happens. British shows don’t have time for filler. The writers also have the habit of ending the show when the idea well runs dry. At first it’s sad, but then you realize too many bad episodes can ruin a great show’s reputation and no one wants that.

In the end, both American and British ways of doing television are successful for different reasons, but have started meeting half way. Over the years, some American shows have gone to 13 episode seasons, which is a short season by their standards, while British popular with Americans, such as Doctor Who, have gone to longer 10 to 13 episode series. Regardless of which way is better, everyone is finding a happy medium, which is probably for the best.


About Allison Lips

I am the Toastmasters District 83 Public Relations manager and President of Freehold Phrasers.

Posted on May 7, 2014, in American Television, British Television, Op-Ed and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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