New Black (2013-). The first season establishes Piper Chapman
(Taylor Schilling) in the prison Litchfield. It introduces the
audience to that specific prison, including the guards and, more
importantly, the ensemble of other prisoners, who are much more
lovable than the WASPy Piper. The second season premiere has
Piper board a plane and fly to a new prison where she is given new
roommates, and the audience is introduced to an entirely new
ensemble cast. The characters viewers are accustomed to and love
are not featured; instead, the most divisive character is once again
the only gateway into this world. Sepinwall points out that because
the next episode is only a click away, viewers are able to get back
to the characters they care about after a premiere that focuses
solely on advancing Piper’s storyline (a strategy that may have been
influenced by the fourth season of Arrested Development) (Sepinwall).
For Arrested Development, the change from weekly episodes
to the Binge Model meant the entire season could become a single
story in which each episode takes place simultaneously with the
other episodes. Each episode focuses on a single character rather
than the full, ensemble cast, as the series had in the previous three
seasons. The only character to appear in every episode is Michael,
as his plot involves every family member, while the others are
primarily kept to one to three others. Pragmatically, the structure
can be explained by the availability of the cast because almost the
entire cast became hot commodities after the end of the series.
Even so, the fourth season’s structure fully utilizes Netflix’s model.
If an episode featuring only Maeby (one of the less popular
characters on the series) had aired on FOX, it is likely even fewer
viewers than usual would tune back in the following week. On
Netflix, the next episode is a click away, meaning creator Mitch
Hurwitz was able to try something new, knowing the audience
would keep watching even if he warned viewers not to watch all at
once for fear of fatigue (Sepinwall).
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