Why TV Shows Are Superior to Movies

Image by Abby Lass

By Eu Ro Wang

Opinions Contributor

From Breaking Bad to Game of Thrones, television shows are a cherished millennial pastime.

However, movies have controlled the media for decades. People have continuously debated whether or not TV shows are better than movies. This debate has divided friends, classmates, and loved ones. So, which is the better one?

Let me put it simply: TV shows are most definitely better than movies.

First, TV shows allow for deeper story development. Storytelling and general plot are some of the most important elements in a movie or a TV show. While some movies have excellent plots, movies need to carry all of the elements a TV show has but in much less time, which usually means a sacrifice in plot development. This becomes highly evident in adaptations of books, which often feel like pale shadows when compared to the source material simply because they don’t have the time to provide the same level of detail.

So, movies often have shallow story development, while TV shows have plenty of time to create the story over the course of several episodes within multiple seasons. TV shows have to have a story every episode, which builds on one big story. Ultimately, the complexity of the plot in a TV show makes for better watching, and this is why TV shows are superior over movies.  

Secondly, TV shows allow for further character development and allow for the audience to have greater intimacy with the characters.

Similar to the lack of story development, movies also lack character development due to the shortened time. In contrast, with TV shows, the audience has the time to cultivate a sense of intimacy towards the characters as they get to learn about them more and more with each new episode. This is nearly impossible in movies, where time is limited and there are lots of characters to go through.

Movies need to make a tradeoff, to either develop few characters deeply or incorporate many minimally developed characters. However, movies often want more characters instead of fewer– take the recent Marvel features– so deep development of character rarely happens in movies.

For instance, movies such as Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity have few characters but are developed deeply. However, movies such as Guardians of Galaxy feature many characters but fail to flush them out as genuine personalities. In contrast, TV shows like The Walking Dead have many characters but still develop each character deeply because they have many episodes in a season and sometimes carry on for multiple seasons.

Finally, TV shows do a better job of building consistent anticipation while movies do not. Episodes of TV shows often have a week in between each episode, unless you are binge watching on Netflix, and this leads to anticipation of the next episode. The wait is also heightened because each episode usually ends with suspense, leading the audience to tune in to the next episode. This sense of anticipation makes TV shows more enjoyable.

Movies, however, lack anticipation. The problem is often resolved in the span of 2-3 hours and throughout the entire time, the movie keeps playing, leaving no time for audience to have anticipation. Even with series films, it’s often difficult for a franchise to maintain consistent hype over the course of the many years that it takes to actually produce all the films. With more anticipation, TV shows are more enjoyable than movies, ultimately making them better than movies.

Movies have always been the go-to media platform, but it seems that TV shows are taking over, and for very good reason.