There is no doubt about it: we are at the heart of a major change in the world of entertainment. Since the mid-2010s, streaming has completely invaded the media landscape. For many years, however, this didn’t change the way the content was actually structured. Scrolling down the “Popular on Netflix” bar a few years ago, you’d see mostly long-running movies and TV shows. But this is no longer the case. Independent consumption of online media is making another form of entertainment more and more popular. From the ashes of cinema and television, a mixture of the two was born: the mini-series.
To be clear, the miniseries is nothing new. According to the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences (which manages the annual Emmy Awards), a limited series or miniseries “must tell a full, non-recurring story, and not have an ongoing storyline or characters. main in the following seasons ”. The term “miniseries” was coined in the United States about 50 years ago, in the early 1970s, and the first Emmy Award for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series was awarded in 1973. This decade also spawned some of the most iconic mini-series of all time. : “Roots”, “Jesus of Nazareth” and “Rich man, poor man”. But never has the miniseries been so predominant as it is now. What was once a casual and special entertainment event is now a standard fare.
At a time when the monoculture favored by radio and television is disappearing, or according to some, already dead, the miniseries has shown its ability to appeal to the masses.
“Tiger King” turned out to be a huge hit last year, having been watched by 34.3 million people in its first ten days of release. Much of this is due to its March 20, 2020 release date, which means most Americans were locked out directly after the first wave of COVID-19 in the United States. In the end, “Tiger King” racked up 64 million views.
“The Queen’s Gambit” was another major miniseries of the COVID era, which garnered 62 million views. Its impact on society has even extended beyond its audience. “The Queen’s Gambit,” which follows fictional 1960s prodigy Beth Harmon as she weaves her way through the world of chess, has led to a massive increase in the popularity of chess nationwide.
Indeed, 2020 has really been a turning point for the miniseries. But 2021 could already be an even bigger year for the format. Earlier this year, most successful film franchise giant of all time, Marvel Studios, took to the miniseries format with its releases of “WandaVision” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier “on Disney +. “WandaVision” was an immediate hit, garnering widespread praise for its recreation of sitcom history from the 1950s to the present day, through its set design, costumes, acting and more. “WandaVision” received 23 Emmy nominations, the highest total of any limited series, and marked Marvel’s first-ever Emmy win. “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” released in March, also received significant accolades.
Other major players in the miniseries game recently, besides Netflix and Disney +, have been FX, Hulu, and HBO.
FX currently broadcasts two major limited series of anthologies: “American Crime Story” and “American Horror Story”. “American Crime Story” follows a different true crime story with each season. Following its Season 1 subject “The People v. OJ Simpson” and the Season 2 subject “The Assassination of Gianni Versace”, this year brings us Season 3: “Impeachment”, which covers the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal . Meanwhile, “American Horror Story” follows a different fictional horror story with each season. This year is the show’s tenth season, titled “Double Feature”. The shows began airing this year on September 7 and August 25, respectively, and both will end later this fall.
Hulu is currently releasing new weekly episodes of its new “Nine Perfect Strangers” miniseries. This miniseries, filled with stars like Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy and Michael Shannon, follows nine strangers on a 10-day retreat to a health and wellness center, as their stay takes wild and unexpected turns. . The first episode was released on August 28, and the series is scheduled to end on Wednesday, September 22.
In a moment of pride for the University, an HBO miniseries that garnered attention in April was “Mare of Easttown,” written by Villanova graduate Brad Ingelsby. The show was set in Chester County, Pennsylvania, a few miles from campus.
Ingelsby spoke to The Villanovan in April about “Mare of Easttown” and the rise of the miniseries in general.
“I think for the kind of stories that I love to tell, which are character driven stories, I think it’s a wonderful time, because there are so many streamers who need content, and I agree with a story like ‘Mare of Easttown’ being told on television, ”Ingelsby said. “I don’t think, you know, whether it’s a story that has to be a movie or that has to be on the big screen… As a storyteller, my goal is to get my stories told and seen. I think now is a really good time for creators. I’m excited about it.
The 2021 Emmy Awards will air on CBS on Monday, September 20. Perhaps the most anticipated award of the year will be the Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series award. The nominees this year are “The Queen’s Gambit”, “WandaVision”, “Mare of Easttown”, “The Underground Railroad” and “I May Destroy You”.
This year, the University has already seen a former student win an Oscar, Villanova graduate Anthony Giacchino winning the 2021 Oscar for best documentary short. If “Mare of Easttown” succeeds next Monday, we could see that pattern continue at the Emmys.
Whatever the outcome of the Emmys next week, we already know that this year’s big winner in the entertainment world is – you guessed it – the miniseries.