I started watching Cowboy Bebop in the last few months. I’m not yet through the series, and I’ve enjoyed it so far, but something that has caught my attention since I began watching it has been the conversations I’ve had surrounding it.
“I started Cowboy Bebop last night.”
“Oh, nice! I like that show. It doesn’t really have an overarching story but it’s still pretty good.”
“I can’t hang today, I’m watching Cowboy Bebop right now.”
“Oh, I watched that but it’s pretty episodic.”
Why does the quality of this show seem to come with a disclaimer that it’s episodic?
Serialization has taken over television in the past two decades and is fairly synonymous with the rise of the Golden Age of TV. With this rise in serialization, episodic television started to crumble; specifically the dissolution of how episodic television is perceived.
The word “episodic,” in many cases, is currently seen as an automatic con. The word “procedural” makes some TV fans run away in disgust, rushing to their favorite show to cleanse their minds with some sweet serialization. What is it about serialization that is so great? And what about episodic that is so wrong?
Episodic television provides singular stories within each episode that often don’t connect to each other in any significant way. Whether that’s solving a new mystery each week or getting into a new crazy situation with the gang, each episode stands alone. Due to their bite-sized nature and adherence to a status quo, major plot lines don’t move forward very quickly, if there are even any at all. Common complaints towards episodic television are its repetitiveness and lack of build to any major climax – two issues that serialization can solve quite nicely.
Serialization provides an opportunity for consistent character development, multiple intriguing plots, and major changes in the status quo – all ingredients to create an engrossing story from start to finish. It’s easier to get sucked into the story because each episode plays as a chapter within a larger plot, begging you to hit play on the next episode to find out what happens next. Cliff hangers and plot twists galore! Now THAT’s entertainment. They also provide something that episodic television shows don’t get to benefit from – a crutch.
Serialized television means that the story doesn’t end at the conclusion of an episode. This promise of a continued story lures viewers into watching the next episode based on what might happen, instead of being solely dependent on the quality of previous episodes. Serialized shows can lean on this crutch to help carry their stories and audiences with them throughout the series. You have to watch them all because each episode matters by its relation to what’s come before and what will happen next.
Episodic television doesn’t have this crutch. Instead, they have to go through the difficult process of making each episode matter on its own terms. Creating meaning for singular episodes is not easy, but when done correctly episodic television shows can provide a wider (and in some ways deeper) exploration of character and themes.
To highlight the power of episodic television, let’s once again turn to my favorite beautiful mess of a series: Lost. Viewers got hooked on Lost due to its intriguing characters and tantalizing mysteries, and many fans stuck with the series until the end just to see how it all ended, despite falling out of love with the show long before. Each season ended with a massive cliffhanger that kept viewers checking their calendars for the return of the show, and even today encourages binge-watching with its serialized “find out what happens next” format.
And yet the series’ most acclaimed episode, “The Constant,” is one of the most stand-alone episodes of the series. It uses characters and plot threads from previously established episodes, sure, but the story of a man hopping back and forth through time and reconnecting with his long lost love is very self-contained. The logistics of the plot-line are all explained and concluded within the episode, and the love story is told in a way that first-time viewers can immediately identify with. The contained story also helps keep this potentially convoluted time-hopping plot clean and centered, forcing the story to be as lean as possible and not giving it a chance to overstay its welcome.
When episodic television is taken full advantage of, wild and risky story-telling techniques can be attempted without threatening to derail the series. As episode counts for seasons get shorter, I fear that these riskier episodes will be tossed aside in favor of consistent storytelling for a long-form narrative. An episode like Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s brilliant “Hush” doesn’t seem as likely to be green-lit if that means 10% of the season is going to be dialogue-less. Episodes like Breaking Bad’s “Fly” will become less and less acceptable the further we get from episodic storytelling, and you don’t have to go much further than the split reaction to that episode to understand why.
“Fly” is the most unique episode of Breaking Bad for many reasons. Its plot-line is razor-thin, its cinematography is much more experimental, and it doesn’t move the main plot along at all. But this experiment allows us an in-depth look at Walt’s mental state and the thematic resonance the fly represents to his world. The changes to the usual structure of Breaking Bad proved to be too much of a departure for many fans, though. This wasn’t the Breaking Bad they had signed up for.
This is ironic because, as I stated before, one of the biggest criticisms of episodic television is its repetitive nature and adherence to a status quo. Tune in, solve a mystery with your favorite characters, and see you next week, folks! It’s almost like comfort food (which in some circles is somehow seen as a bad thing).
I’d argue that serialized formatting encourages the “comfort food” idea even more, despite its ability to change its characters and status quos, because serialization requires consistency – consistency in writing, direction, character choices, musical score, etc. The world and characters may change each episode, but the structure normally does not.
Episodic television doesn’t have this limit. It allows for structural changes. Characters can be explored not just through varying situations, but through varying storytelling techniques. You can look at an apple with the naked eye, but you’ll see it differently under the lens of a microscope, or through a window, or in a mirror. This is what episodic television can provide when taken advantage of – completely different approaches to the story and characters, or perhaps even completely different characters!
Yet today the format is ignored by many outside of comedies. For some reason, singular episodes are just fine for providing us laughs, but not for drama. Perhaps this is a result of too many episodic shows resting on their laurels and just repeating what works, or maybe it’s the result of some of the greatest dramas ever created pushing serialization to its finest peaks.
However, I hope the conversation around episodic television changes, and instead of dismissing the format audiences instead begin pushing for series that actually take full advantage of what an episode structure can provide in terms of storytelling. Some of the most inspirational series ever created were episodic (The Twilight Zone, Columbo, The X-Files), and I hope the format lives on, both on its own and within serialized stories, and receives the respect it deserves.
What do you all think of episodic television versus serialized? Am I totally out of touch and all of your friends love episodic TV and hate serialization? Let us know in the comments below!
(As I was editing this article, I came about this quote from an interview on IO9 about Netflix’s live-action Cowboy Bebop remake: “Another reason for making tweaks to Bebop’s story is that the team behind the show wanted to broaden out Spike’s story into a longer narrative in and of itself…”
So it seems as though even the episodic show that inspired this article will be remade to be more serialized. Take that as you will!)
Most Explosive Moments from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Interview with Oprah Including the Sex of the Baby
Oprah sat down with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry for the highly-anticipated tell-all that tackled the demise of the royal fairytale.
How did Meghan go from being the promising princess to the villain in the story?
Prior to the interview, Oprah emphasized that no subject was off limits, Meghan didn’t know what she was going to ask, and she was not getting paid for the interview.
Meghan Said She Went Into the Marriage Naively
Meghan explained that while she was aware of the royals, she went into it blindly and “naively.” She explained that she didn’t know much about the royal family and didn’t follow the family through the years. She also didn’t Google her husband prior to the relationship/marriage because everything she needed to know “he was sharing with her.”
“I didn’t fully understand what the job was,” she said in terms of what it means to be a working royal, she explained. Quickly, she learned that the perception and reality were two different things. “And that’s what was really tricky over those past few years is, is when the perception and reality are two very different things, and you’re being judged based on the perception, but you’re living the reality. There’s a complete misalignment and there’s no way to explain that to people,” she told Oprah.
She explained that the idea, especially for Americans, is that it’s this fairy tale world. However, she didn’t think that the outside world is what happened in person, and quickly learned that this institution takes itself seriously. When she met Harry’s grandmother, she wasn’t just meeting the grandmother, she was meeting the Queen. And she needed to learn how to curtsy immediately!
However, she’s grateful for all that limited knowledge. “Thank god I didn’t know a lot about the family, thank god I haven’t researched,” she said, adding she’d be so much more nervous than she was. Instead, she was as nervous as any other woman meeting her significant others family.
Meghan and Harry Got Married Three Days Before the Televised Wedding
Meghan revealed that she and Harry tied the knot a few days prior to the wedding at Windsor Castle. She explained she wanted the union to be special for them and not just about the worldly spectacle that was televised in 2018.
Kate Made Meghan Cry
About flower girl dresses! The story about Meghan making Kate cry was actually the opposite – Kate made her cry! Meghan said she didn’t want to get into the details cause it wouldn’t be fair to Kate as she apologized, however, she was upset at the way the media painted her as the villain especially when everyone in the “Institution” knew it wasn’t the truth.
“So why didn’t somebody just say that?” Oprah asked about clearing up the rumors. “That’s a good question,” Meghan responded.
Meghan said Kate is a good person and she believes she would’ve wanted to clear it up if the Palace allowed it.
It’s a Girl!
Meghan and Harry told Oprah exclusively that they are welcoming a baby girl in the summer!
Meghan Was Silenced
When Oprah asked her if she was “silent or silenced,” Meghan said that it was “the latter.”
In terms of how the family silenced her, Meghan said that they initially told her and her loved ones to always say “no comment” to the media. “And we did,” she explained, adding that she assumed the Palace would protect her. “I believed that,” she said of their promise, which she later regretted believing.
But all of that changed once they were married and it was made abundantly clear that they weren’t protecting her. “They were willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband,” she said.
Meghan Loves the Queen
Meghan emphasized that there’s two separate pieces to the family business — the family and the people running the Institution. She explained that she always loved being with the Queen and “being in her company.” During their first royal engagement, the duo had breakfast and even shared a blanket to stay warm when it was chilly.
She described Queen Elizabeth as warm, inviting, and welcoming.
Meghan Said It Became Lonely
If you’ve seen The Crown or any documentary about Princess Diana, the idea that the Palace is a lonely place isn’t a novel concept. Meghan explained that since she came from “freedom” and a lived a very full and busy life prior to becoming the Duchess of Sussex, she didn’t take well to being told that she couldn’t go out or do anything. “There was very little that I was allowed to do, so of course that breeds loneliness,” she explained. She related it to what we have all been feeling and experiencing during the coronavirus lockdown.
Archie Wasn’t Going to be Given Security, a Title, and They Were Concerned About His Skin Color
Meghan revealed that while she was pregnant, the Palace explained that since her unborn child wasn’t going to hold the title of “prince or princess” upon birth, the child wouldn’t need protection, which didn’t sit well with the mom-t0-be mainly because she blamed the Institution for allowing this monster tabloid machine to put them in danger in the first place, but then failed to provide the necessary protection.
When Oprah pressed for an explanation, Meghan said “there’s no explanation.”
“The idea of our son not being safe, and the idea of the first member of color in this family not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be,” didn’t sit well with her, especially due to a convention that explains that if Prince Charles were to become king, it automatically gives Prince Harry’s children the royal title.
She shut down rumors that it was her and Prince Harry’s decision not to give her child the title: “It’s not our decision to make,” adding that it’s her child’s “birth right.”
Additionally, she explained that the reason they didn’t step out for the iconic after-birth photo was because of the lack of security provided.
Meghan explained that Harry relayed that the family was also having conversations about how dark Archie’s skin would be upon birth in tandem with conversations about his title/security.
When Oprah asked who was having the conversations, Meghan declined to answer, noting: “I think that would be very damaging to them.”
Prince Harry added that he would never share anything pertaining to the conversation about Archie’s skin tone.
Mental Health Is Not Acknowledged by the Palace
“I just didn’t see a solution,” Meghan said explained of the “unsurvivable” situation she was in.
She explained that with all the negative media attention on her, she “didn’t want to be alive anymore.” She explains she was so scared of her thoughts, she shared them with Harry.
She also revealed she asked the Institution for help and was told it “wouldn’t be good” a good look for them. Meghan clarified that she was trapped and couldn’t get help despite the suicidal thoughts.
When she went to HR, she explained that they told her: “my heart goes out to you because we see how bad it is, but there’s nothing we can do because you’re not a paid employee of the Institution.”
However, she did find comfort in one of Diana’s best friends who understood what Meghan was going through.
“You have no idea what’s going on behind closed doors,” she noted when Oprah brought up Meghan looking happy and joyful in photos.
Is Meghan Afraid of Palace Backlash?
“I don’t know how they could expect that after all this time, we would still just be silent if there is an active role that The Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” Meghan said.
She explained her truth is worth it even if it comes with the “risk of losing things” because she “lost a lot already.”
She hopes the takeaway for people watching is that “there’s another side” and “life is worth living.”
What Triggered Megxit?
When pressed about why they stepped down as senior members of the family, Prince Harry admitted that he asked for help numerous times and exhausted all of his options, but was given no support. He added that he grew concerned as he saw “history repeating itself.”
The situation with the press and the family was happening in the same kind of way as it did with his late mother, Diana, but he explained it was “far more dangerous” with the addition of social media.
He explained that the very reason they left was a “lack of support and lack of understanding.”
However, they clarified that the intention was never to leave the family. They simply wanted to step down as senior members and live in the Commonwealth as many other royal family members continue to do, which they quickly learned wasn’t an option for them.
Upon leaving, Meghan said she felt like she “got her voice back.”
Prince Harry Did Not Blindside the Queen with Megxit
“I’ve never blindsided my grandmother. I have too much respect for her,” Harry said shooting down rumors that the couple’s decision to step down blindsided members of the family.
Harry guessed that the rumors painting them in a negative light may have come from within the Institution.
Harry even explained that they were very transparent about their intentions and had three calls with the Queen and two with his father, Prince Charles, “before he stopped taking my calls” about their decision to step down. They even put it in writing including when they would put out the announcement to the public.
As for his reason — he did it for his family and for their mental health.
Harry Did Not Ask the Family for Help When Meghan Was Suicidal
When Oprah asked why Harry didn’t ask the family for help when Meghan admitted she was having suicidal thoughts, he explained that he was “ashamed of admitting it to them.”
“It’s a very trapping environment,” he said of being a royal adding that he didn’t have anyone to turn to for help and that the family has adopted a mentality that “this is just how it is.”
Harry Was Heartbroken When His Family Didn’t Defend Meghan
Harry noted that over 72 members of Parliament stood up against colonial undertones in media headlines about Meghan, but the royal family never supported her.
“That hurts,” he said of his family’s silence over the two years. However, he also noted that he’s “acutely aware of where my family stand and how scared they are of the tabloids turning on them.”
Harry Says the Palace Needs the Tabloids and Vice-Versa
Harry went on to say that there needs to be a level of compassion for his family because they basically have to wine and dine the media if they want better coverage. He calls it the “invisible contract” and notes that Palace’s relationship with the tabloids is very much front of mind.
Harry Explains The Moment His Family “Turned” on Meghan
While he acknowledges that his family was very welcoming of Meghan at first, he said it all changed after their “south Pacific tour.”
“It was the first time the family got to see how incredible she is at the job, and that brought back memories,” he said referring to how much positive press and love the late Diana once received following the Australian tour.
When Oprah asked if there were hints of jealousy, Harry said “I wish we would all learn for the past” explaining that the “effortless” way she connected with the public triggered some members.
Harry Would Never Have Stepped Back If It Wasn’t for Meghan
“No, I wouldn’t have been able to,” Harry explained. “I, myself, was trapped,” he said, adding that he didn’t have a way out. When Oprah pushed back saying this has been his whole life, he acknowledged that he was “trapped but didn’t know he was trapped.”
Oprah continued pressing asking how a privileged prince born into this world could feel trapped, but he explained that he was “trapped within a system.” He added that Prince Charles and Prince William are both trapped in a sense because of their birthright duties to the crown.
He added that looks can be deceiving as ultimately, the job is to put on a smile and pretend to be happy no matter what’s going on in your personal life.
What Would Princess Diana Think About Megxit?
“I think she would feel very angry with how this has banned out and very sad, but ultimately, all she’d ever want is for us to be happy,” Harry said.
He said he’s grateful to have Meghan by his side and acknowledged how lonely it must have been for his mother to go through by herself.
What Is Prince Harry’s Relationship With His Family?
Harry said his relationship with Queen Elizabeth is really solid and they’ve talked more this year than they ever have. However, things with his father are not as peachy. He explained that he feels “really let down” and there’s a lot to work through.
“I will always love him, but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened,” he said, adding that he would prioritize trying to heal that relationship. “They only know what they know or what they’re told,” he said offering sympathy to those within the Palace walls.
As for his brother, he loves him to bits but he explained they “are on different paths.” At the moment, there’s a space between them, but he believes “time heals all.”
What About All Those Lucrative Deals?
Oprah mentioned the Netflix and Spotify deals have made some people think they are money grabbing royals, but Prince Harry explained that was never in the plan and “never the intention.” Prince Harry explained his motivation to make money is to get security and keep his family safe. After leaving the royal family, he noted the only money he had was whatever his mother left him.
The bottom line, both Prince Harry and Meghan say that if they had the support, they would still be part of the family, but they also add that they’re proud of how they handled the situation. Harry said they did everything they could to maintain the relationship and protect the royal family in the process.
“We did what we had to do,” Prince Harry added.
As Oprah put it – Meghan’s story with the Prince does have a happy ending and it involves freedom and an identity for her family.
It’s a happy ending “greater than I could have imagined,” Meghan added.
13 Steamiest Moments Between Rio and Beth on ‘Good Girls’
When Good Girls season 1 premiered in 2018, a relationship between Beth and Rio wasn’t even on our radar.
However, over time, the chemistry between Christina Hendricks and Manny Montana was too hard to ignore.
Rio could make your heart skip a beat simply by the way he looked at Beth. Their connection and bond strengthened until it culminated in one of the hottest hook-up scenes on prime-time television.
Since then, the writers have struggled to keep that passion alive even as fans clamor for more #Brio moments – anything to prove that the spark is still alive between them.
We’re taking a walk down memory lane ahead of the new season to remember just how steamy and sensual things between these two used to be!
1.When They Became Equal Partners
That was one intense scene, especially as Rio tried to throw Beth off of her game by saying “you look good behind that desk, but you’d look so much better on top of it.” Did anyone else fully expect her to throw herself at him?
2. When Rio believed in her
During a 10 a.m. bar meetup, Rio informed Beth that he was giving her the keys to the kingdom. When she questioned his motives, he informed her: “I think you could be something.” Rio may have had ulterior motives, but it was one of the first times that someone actually saw and acknowledged Beth’s potential as a woman, something Dean hadn’t done in years.
Every time Beth questioned her abilities, he promised to “teach her” how to be like him and supported her every step of the way.
3. When He Called Beth Beautiful
Rio has a way with words, but when he subtly complimented Beth, we were swooning!
4. When They Hooked Up in the Bathroom
Beth was always intrigued by Rio and she gave into temptation; she allowed herself to give into her deepest desires and embrace a wild side. Rio gave her the freedom that Dean never did. We see how fed up she is with Dean as he assumes everything about her and doesn’t actually value her. Not to mention he cheated on her so she wanted revenge.
However, what makes this scene so hot is that Rio takes her lead and lets her control the narrative and what happens. They both wanted it, but Beth had the power.
5. When He Told Beth to Tell the FBI They Were Making Love
We were all just as flustered as Beth when Rio suggested she tell the FBI the reason they were hanging out is cause they were making love. “Make me sound good, yeah?” Rio added as Beth couldn’t help but blush at the thought.
6. When Their Hands Touched While Exchanging the Money
Rio and Beth embraced any chance to tease each other. He hand gently caressed her hand under the table as Annie echoed what we were all thinking: “oh my god.”
7. When Rio Gave Her Some Solid Advice
To calm Beth’s nerves, Rio suggested that she “picture everybody naked.” And we all know what he meant by that. In the scene, they also talked about not labeling their relationship, and while they were talking about their professional relationship on the surface, we all know the subtext was about something a bit more intimate.
8. When Beth Got Jealous
While we never got an explanation as to who this woman was, Beth was green with envy seeing Rio feeling up on some other woman.
9. When They Made Love
A quickie hookup in the bathroom is one thing, but when she invited hin over to have sex in her bedroom, it became a lot more intimate.
Beth needed to get it out of her system as a way of saying “goodbye” as she planned to get out of the drug dealing business. She knew the optics weren’t in their favor — he’s a drug dealer, she’s a suburban housewife who needs to prioritize her family — but she couldn’t shake the attraction. The scene didn’t show much aside from their kiss, but that was enough to give audiences chills.
These two aren’t always in-sync when it comes to the business, but they are so in-sync non-verbally.
10. Anytime He Pushed the Hair Out of Her Face
He may be a dangerous criminal, but brushing her hair out of her face and stroking her cheek is such a gentl and personal act. And he usually does it when she’s at her most vulnerable with him.
11. Whenever He Calls Her Elizabeth
No one else calls her by her full name, but when he does it, it just flows off the tongue. He demands her attention and shows her that no one else sees her in the way that he does.
12. Whenever Beth Challenges Him
It takes a lot of bravado to challenge a drug dealer who is all too comfortable with putting a gun to your head, but Beth does it several times to keep Rio in check. By allowing it, he’s clearly telling her that he respects and values her opinion. Not everyone would be able to get away with it. And while their relationship is toxic and dysfunctional on many levels, they’ve both taught each other some pretty valuable lessons.
13. When Rio Listens to Beth
This goes hand-in-hand with #12, but in Good Girls Season 3, Beth has the ability to stop Rio in his tracks. As she hands over Boomer, she says “stop,” and you can hear Rio’s screech as he comes to a halt. Rio may have the upperhand, but Beth has her fair share of power over him.
The cat-and-mouse game between these two continues into Good Girls Season 4, but as Beth hires a hitman to kill Rio, they’re not exactly on the same page anymore. Will they find their way back?
Will the respect and tension once again resurface? A bond this intense doesn’t just fizzle out no matter how many times they’ve betrayed each other!
TV Shows and Movies to Watch During Women’s History Month
March is not only Women’s History Month, but March 8 is also International Women’s Day.
To celebrate, Philo put together a curated collection titled “Celebrating Women ” to honor the fearless, passionate, and hardworking women in your life.
Per the release, the collection will include “movies and shows that magnify female experiences, explore narratives centered around women, and commemorate their vital role in today’s society.”
Here are some titles to check out:
Liza Miller is a forty-something-year-old who pretends to be half her age to rejoin the world of publishing. She never expects that lying about her age could open up a world of possibilities not only in her career but also in love!
Tyler Perry’s comedy-drama follows a group of single black women as they navigate the ins-and-outs of life like careers, friendship, and more.
You can find the full collection at philo.tv/celebratingwomen.
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