Ali Wong and Steven Yuen in Netflix's short hit Beef Credit: Netflix
The long and the downside is that television today is often too long and sometimes too short. We are in an imperial phase of overblown drinking. Netflix, for example, has perfected the art of the documentary, which typically takes over six hours to tell a story that could be made and cleared in just one.
Elsewhere, the third season of previously diner Ted Lasso goes all-in with a 60-minute runtime. Meanwhile, last year's Stranger Things 4 broke through the attention barrier with multiple episodes totaling over 90 minutes.
In other words, the streaming wars convinced Netflix, Disney and their peers that more is better. Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the scale, there have been attempts to create a new genre of super-short television. This had its most infamous manifestation in the failed Quibi, a shortcast platform founded by Hollywood mover and shaker Jeffrey Katzenberg that promised a new genre of “quick bite” entertainment.
It certainly was fast. Despite starring stars like Sophie Turner, Joe Jonas, and Jennifer Lopez on the show, the service collapsed and burned in six months, earning $1.7 billion.
In other words, on TV, length matters. That's why more and more shows are escaping the extremes of Netflix and Quibi's documentary department and finding happy ground with 30-minute runs. The attraction can be seen in the current popularity of Netflix's new revenge hit “Beef,” in which Ali Wong and Steven Yeun excel as disillusioned LA residents who become sworn enemies after a road incident too far away. But beef isn't the only favorite that lasts roughly half an hour or less…
Russian Doll (Netflix)
In this surreal sci-fi series, reality is turned inside out and upside down. Lyonne is incredibly unflappable as she negotiates time and space, while Harry Nilsson's song's prominence in the first of two series means you'll never listen to the seventies crooner in the same vein again. Season 2 features an extended role as independent film queen Chloe Sevigny.
Ordinary People (iPlayer/Hulu)
The hot and tense adaptation of the best-selling novel by Sally Rooney made Paul Mescal and Daisy Edger-Jones stars. This tale of unhappy lovers in the small town of Sligo and Trinity College Dublin also proves that you don't need to delay your appointment, as each episode ends in (about) half an hour.
Only Murders in the Building (Hulu/Disney +)
Selena Gomez, Steve Martin and Martin Short are a trio made in screwball heaven as they star in a detective novel about hapless podcasters trying to solve a series of murders in their trendy New York apartment building.
Homecoming (Prime Video)
In the first season of this disturbing and intriguing series, Julia Roberts, adapted from the creepy podcast, stars as a social worker at a medical center where soldiers are allegedly “transitioning” to civilian life. But there is more to the site than meets the eye. Janelle Monáe becomes the main star of the second season when her character wakes up in a rowboat and is determined to put her broken personality back together.
Julia Roberts in Homecoming By Amazon Derry Girls (Netflix/All4)
A nostalgic comedy about Troubleshooting sounds like the worst idea ever. But writer Lisa McGee pulled it off by diving back into her high school years to tell this tale of love and friendship in 1990s Derry.
Barry (Sky/Now TV/HBO)
Bill Hader's super-fun drama about a depressed hitman who wants to be an actor is without a doubt one of the greatest TV shows of the last decade. Its fourth and final season has just begun, and its combination of superbly executed action, poignant tension and intricate gags deserves a much larger audience.
Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin and Kate Nash are part of the ensemble cast in this period piece about a real-life women's wrestling league in 1980s Los Angeles. The period details are fantastic, and podcaster Marc Maron excels as Svengali trying to put on an unlikely show on the road.
Cast of Glow Search Party (iPlayer/HBO Max)
In this iconic dark comedy, Alia Shawkat plays a snarky New Yorker investigating the disappearance of an old university friend she believes is in danger. She is joined by a ragtag group that includes her shy boyfriend, a dumb-brained actress, and a flamboyant hipster.
Dead To Me (Netflix)
Great drama starring Christina Applegate as grieving widow Jen, who turns her on friendship with the mysterious Judy (Linda Cardellini). But Judy has secrets tied directly to the hit-and-run that killed Jen's husband, and her obnoxious boyfriend Ben (James Marsden) has his own plans.
Donald Glover is the surreal ringmaster in this stunningly quirky sitcom, ostensibly about an Atlanta rapper (Brian Tyree Henry) and his disillusioned manager (Glover), but which quickly veers into all sorts of surreal directions. In the most recent season, Liam Neeson appeared as himself and discussed the black outburst that almost got him cancelled. This is just the 10th weirdest thing in this particular episode, not to mention the series as a whole.
Forever (Prime Video)
June (Maya Rudolph) and Oscar (Fred Armisen) are happily married when an unexpected event happens to them and they find they have to spend all eternity together. It forces the couple to rethink their relationship and what they want from the world and from each other – with hilarious but also dark and thought-provoking consequences.
I don't like this (Netflix)
Sophia Lillis plays a grumpy teenager with telekinetic powers in a quick adaptation of the iconic comic book that has an indie movie feel to it. A second season was planned but canceled due to the pandemic.
Chewing Gum (All4)
Adapted by Mikaela Coel from her play Chewing Gum Dreams, a smart, subversive series in which Coel plays a saleswoman who wants lose your virginity, give up your strict religious beliefs and see more of the world.
Colin From Accounts (iPlayer)
Patrick Brummol and Harriet Dyer, the husband-and-wife team, offer a provocative twist on the romantic comedy Meet the Darling in this hilarious tale of two lonely people who collide in a car crash. .
Canceled (Prime Video)
An animated psychedelic detective starring Rosa Salazar from Alita: Battle Angel as a Mexican-American woman who develops the ability to manipulate time after a car accident. The trippy series uses the old “rotoscope” technique to track live footage – with mind-blowing results.
Darren Star follows Emily in Paris in Neil Patrick Harris's car about a middle-aged gay man from Manhattan who is dumped out of the blue by his longtime partner. Wrinkled and heartbroken, he tries to get back into dating, with mixed success. The show itself also received mixed reviews in terms of ratings and was canceled after just one season.
Steve Carell plays a therapist kidnapped by a psychopath who hopes to cure his bloodlust in this drama from the makers of The Americans. Essentially, the two-handed fight between Carrell and Donall Gleason is appallingly good as a patient, it's as lean and mean as TV. “/>Domhnall Gleason and Steve Carell in The Patient. Credit: Landmark Media/Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Stock Photo Trying (Apple TV+)
Tender sitcom starring Rafe Spall and Esther Smith as a London couple in desperate need of a baby. Imelda Staunton and Xian Brook of Blue Light also play in a surprisingly quirky ensemble.
Cardiac Arrest (Netflix)
Alice Osman has adapted her own graphic novel about a gay student who falls in love with her new classmate. Sweet and sticky, it's the perfect 30-minute mood booster.
Dickinson (Apple TV+)
Emily Dickinson's life, time and poetry are celebrated in an insightful drama that chronicles her life. growing up years. Hailee Steinfeld admirably portrays the young Dickinson as a woman ahead of her time.
End of the F***ing World (Netflix)
A modest hit on Channel 4, the eight-part comedy-drama became a global hit when it hit Netflix. James (Alex Lawther) is 17 years old and considers himself a psychopath (he kills animals as a hobby). Alyssa (Jessica Barden) is his brash and rebellious classmate. As they run away together, a series of funny and terrifying adventures awaits them together.
If you're too busy to spare 30 minutes to watch TV, how about State of the Union, Nick Hornby and Stephen Frears' dramedy about couples trying to find a way out of their relationship? The first series starred Rosamund Pike and Chris O'Dowd as husband and wife meeting before weekly marital therapy. Meanwhile, the skippable second season featured Patricia Clarkson and Brendan Gleason (and Gleason's dubious American accent). The episodes are about 10 minutes long and it's a heavy drama to swallow on the go.
Rosamund Pike and Chris O& #39 ;Dowd in State of the Union Credit: BBC/Parisatag Hizadeh She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (Disney+)
The Hulk's green effects were horrendous, and the joking dialogue outraged many Marvel fans. But the fresh tone of the Disney spin-off The Incredible Hulk is sympathetic, and Tatiana Maslany shines as an up-and-coming lawyer whose career is derailed when she accidentally becomes a superhero. Look out for a hilarious cameo by Tim Roth, who returns as the Hulk's nemesis who traded his villainous ways for a conscious life.
Community (Prime Video/ITVX/Hulu)
Comedy stars of the future (Donald Glover) and the past (Chevy Chase) cross paths in an infectiously goofy, ridiculously inventive sitcom about a group of underachievers attending a local college.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Netflix/Hulu)
Robb McElhenney and Charlie Day have created a cult following with their raunchy comedy about a group of misfits who run an Irish bar in South Philadelphia. This is Seinfeld for immoral, garrulous drunks.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Peacock/Netflix)
An old-fashioned sitcom about a group of cops in a seedy New York City neighborhood who must adjust to a new commander's eccentricity. With Andy Samberg, Stephanie Beatrice and Terry Crews.
Bojack Horseman (Netflix)
Existential despair disguised as a bright and fresh cartoon. Will Arnett voices the eponymous Bojack, a human-horse hybrid who lives off the steam of the hit sitcom he starred in 30 years ago.
Bojack Rider Credit: Netflix Rami (Prime Video)
Comedian Rami Youssef plays a slightly disguised version of himself. Rami is an American Muslim trying to reconcile his faith with the difficulties of living in the modern world – with all the awkwardness and filth that comes with it.
Big Door Prize (Apple TV+)
Chris O. “Dowd – a boring dad and teacher whose marriage is thrown into question when a mysterious device in a corner store promises to show people their “real” destiny. He's content with his lot, but his wife Cass (Gabrielle Dennis) suddenly realizes she's destined for so much more.
Arrested Development (Netflix/Disney+/Hulu)
Before Arrested Development virtually ceased to exist due to allegations of bullying by Jessica Walter against co-star Jeffrey Tambor, it was the most bizarre comedy on streaming. We joined the dysfunctional Bluth family as they negotiated jail time for allegedly cheating their rich dad (Tambora) and influencing their pampered lifestyle.