How do you know when you’ve run out of things to say? Television shows must ask this question every time a season ends, and they decide to either continue on with their story — and profits — or end their show.
Some shows run for many years while others are meant to be short and sweet. Some miniseries decide to continue even without having more story left to tell. Big Little Lies and 13 Reasons Why are two examples of this new trend. Both shows are based on novels. Both have too much to say to fit in a movie, but still with only one book’s worth of story. Though these two shows have very different plots, they both went beyond the parameters of a miniseries.
There is a big difference between a miniseries and a long-running TV show. Most miniseries are only one season and are marketed as such, while long-running shows get more exposure so that they can run as long as the story was laid out. Big Little Lies and 13 Reasons Why were both initially laid out as a miniseries because they were based on novels that did not have enough material to sustain a long-running TV show. Since each of the shows got stellar reviews, developed strong fan bases, and made a lot of money, the companies behind the shows decided to renew them. However, since these shows were only meant to be one season, everything after the first season fell short, and lacked the same impact as the first seasons.
13 Reasons Why was always going to be controversial. The first season of the show covered suicide, rape, drugs and more, and encompassed the book very well. However, two years later, the show came out with a third season. This extension has severely impacted how people see the show. The third season is very hard to get through with its confusing plot and new character as a narrator. The show that was once binge-worthy has become a hot mess with a few bright spots.
On the other side of things, Big Little Lies has a whole other story of how it was renewed. Big Little Lies had such a good first season that it was nominated for and won several Golden Globe awards in the miniseries category. This led to HBO renewing it for a second season officially when the awards season was over. The only problem with the renewal is that there is only one book for the show to draw from. This led to a new novel being written simply because the people behind this successful show wanted to continue with this success. However, with the second season coming out, this show is no longer a miniseries despite winning awards for that category. There’s no reason to take the awards away from the show because the performances were still jaw-dropping, but if the show is ever nominated again, they can’t stay in the miniseries category. Miniseries are very hard to make. One season is not a lot of time. It’s no wonder why some miniseries would need to be longer. Most stories go on for a long time, although everyone who works on a miniseries should consider if it’s even worth making a new season. If a miniseries is done right, having some ambiguity at the end lets the audience make up their own ending, which in turn allows these stories to live on within us like the memories of people who are long gone. At the end of the day, going on longer than what was initially planned will most likely have your show move away from being what it was supposed to impart when it was first created.