In recent years the average length of a feature film has increased to seemingly indulgent levels. When Peter Jackson dropped 9-hours of hobbits and orcs on us we sat watching in awe but also while crossing our legs, desperate for the toilet... and that was just the standard editions!
Martin Scorsese gave us 3-hours and 26-minutes of Killers of the Flower Moon and despite it being a wonderful film, many cinemas, much to his disgust, broke it into two parts with an intermission.
The fact is, no matter how much we love a movie or TV show, sometimes it's just too long and our attention cannot keep up. And it can take forever to get through a long film or series when you only watch during commuting.
That's why there's a lot to be said for old-fashioned 30 minute shows, episodes that can be enjoyed on a streaming service while travelling, at home, or while hiding in the toilet at work... c'mon, we all do it.
Here then are three Netflix shows with episodes under 30 minutes that you can fit into a busy schedule.
- Stars: Ron Livingston, Will Sasso, Anja Savci
- Created by: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Mort
Hugely overlooked by many at the time of its release, and now only getting a sort of revival due to clips going viral online, Loudermilk is a prime example of a TV show largely failing due to almost zero marketing at the time of its release.
It follows recovering alcoholic and substance abuse counsellor, Sam Loudermilk, who despite having his own drinking under control finds himself at odds with the world. The show was gritty for its time, mature in its themes and language, and as such didn't really fit in with the 30 minute sitcom expectations of the time.
Now in 2023 with numerous shows following the same example, the existing three seasons are great additions to a watch list and perfect for short form bingeing. The script work by Peter Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About Mary) and Bobby Mort (The Colbert Report) is sharp and aimed in the right direction, while the central performance from Ron Livingston is fantastic and really sets the show apart from others of its kind.
Will Loudermilk be remembered in 30 years like sitcoms such as Friends? Not really… but it does work as a funny and relevant 30 minute comedy that has edge and some genuine laughs.
- Stars: Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland, Tara Lynne O’Neill, Nicola Coughlan, Kathy Kiera Clarke
- Created by: Lisa McGee
Ernest Hemmingway once said, "A writer should create living people, not characters. A character is a caricature." But then, Hemingway was also well known for being a terrible human being, so what does he know? The point is, a character can also be a caricature and this can work when done well and by a great writer.
Lisa McGee is a great writer.
Set during the troubles in Northern Ireland and originally aired on Channel 4 in the UK, Derry Girls follows the misadventures of a group of friends through their school years and beyond. And while it's backdrop is a time of social and political upheaval for the region, they seem oblivious and uninterested in it – instead concerned merely by drinking, school, religion and boys, much like any other teenager.
Derry Girls came from out of nowhere, from a writer with a solid history but no real standout show and stars a cast of unknowns. In many ways, that made it all the more amazing. It is funny, heartfelt, relevant and despite being a comedy with obvious tropes, painfully real. The show since catapulted both writer and cast to levels of stardom that was no doubt completely unexpected.
If you find yourself in a situation where time is limited but you need to have a bloody good laugh, we simply cannot recommend this enough. Just make sure you have headphones on if in public as the language used might get you thrown off the bus.
- Stars: Andy Samberg, Terry Crews, Stephanie Beatriz, Melissa Fumero, Joe LO Truglio, Andre Braugher, Chelsea Peretti
- Created by: Dan Goor, MIchael Schur
Nine-Nine is a show regularly hailed as one of the best sitcoms of the last decade. It has spawned the careers of so many actors working today, and is so beloved that it has become part of a modern cultural zeitgeist.
Based on the misadventures of a US police unit based at New York’s 99th Police Precinct, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is what short-form comedy should be. It's well written, inventive, relevant and, most importantly, very very funny. With memorable and quotable characters, a simple premise and its ability to stay timeless, the show has proved to be a modern sitcom that will stay in people's minds long after it stops running.
With episodes running at the all-important sub 30 minutes, it is a fantastic show for casual viewing and, as there is no real through-line story, you can simply drop in and out without missing out. Very much like Friends in the 90s, you can easily just watch a couple of episodes, enjoy and not feel like you are missing the point or being left out of a joke. Characters are well defined and always feel individual, direction is always sharp and snappy, and the sheer volume of jokes per episode sets it aside from those who would either compete or imitate.
With the recent death of the simply amazing Andre Braugher, Nine-Nine has had a bit of a revival and as such there is no better time to jump in.