When Between, a new sci-fi drama starring iCarly's Jennette McCurdy, premieres this Thursday night, it will be the fifth Netflix original program to roll out in as many months. It's only May, and 2015 has already seen the debuts of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Bloodline, Marvel's Daredevil, and Grace And Frankie. But Between is unlike any of those shows; in fact, it's unlike any original program ever before on Netflix. Just when subscribers are settling into the familiar rhythms of the service's trademark marathon-ready model, the episode model for Between comes along to shake everything up.
A co-production between Netflix and Canadian TV network City, Between tells the story of a fictional town called Pretty Lake, which is hit by a mysterious disease that wipes out everyone over the age of 21. McCurdy stars as Wiley Day, a pregnant teenager who must learn to cope with the apocalyptic aftermath of a society with no adult supervision. The first season will consist of a relatively brief six 44-minute episodes. But what makes the show unique in the pantheon of Netflix original programming isn't its plot or its genre or its episode count... it's the fact that you can't marathon it. (Not yet, at least.)
This will surely be a shocking adjustment to those Netflix fans who are used to sitting down and watching half a season of Daredevil in one sitting. Instead of releasing all six episodes at once, Netflix will unveil one new episode every Thursday night at 9 p.m. for six weeks, while City airs them in Canada one hour earlier. This is bound to be a controversial decision — Netflix is synonymous with marathon, after all — but subscribers shouldn't get too worried. This change in approach probably had more to do with the service's affiliation with City TV than with any sort of decision to abandon their traditional model.
So breathe a sigh of relief, marathon viewers. And if you MUST watch Between all at once... hey, at least you only have to wait six short weeks before the whole season is available and you can stream to your heart's content.
(For the record, this is also how foreign Netflix subscribers watch American series. Shows like The 100, Better Call Saul, and Penny Dreadful are rolled out one episode at a time to viewers in places like Canada, the UK, and Belgium. It's only fair that we Americans take our turn suffering the horrible indignity of being forced to watch a TV show only one hour per week.)
Images: Ken Woroner/Netflix