Can Relationships Be More Like a Limited Series?


I’ve got a confession to make. No, I’m not confessing to a crime, just an addiction. And it’s not a criminal addiction, not in a legal sense. I’m addicted to limited series shows.


For those of you who don’t binge watch streaming television (or even know what those words mean), a limited series is a television show with a clear endpoint. The writers have scripted four to ten episodes coming in hot at forty minutes apiece, and they’ve wrapped up all the storylines by the last show. They didn’t create ridiculous little side stories to fill time, or throw in boring monologues that give us a chance to go to the bathroom (although that could be a flaw.) The show isn’t up for renewal every year, with the risk of being canceled. Instead, viewers can breathe a heavy sigh of relief and move on with their lives, instead of pulling up chairs and hanging out by the cliffs waiting for a resolution. 


Did that comparison to cliffs make sense? Often writers create the last show of the season by sprinkling cliff hangers all over the scenes like glitter, blissfully unaware the show is about to be canceled. Viewers are left to ponder deep questions such as, did Jeff and Sabrina get back together? Did Uncle Beau really die, or did he survive the fiery car crash? Did Marjorie figure out her new haircut looks hideous and go back to her original style?


We recently watched “The Night Agent” on Netflix, ten episodes of glorious escape from reality. During the last moments the writers answered all our questions. We watched the credits flash on the screen with a sense of satisfaction. Oh sure, those clever men and women included a hint of future quality time with Peter Sutherland and his new job at the FBI. But we are content with the show as it ended. 


Wouldn’t that be wonderful if life unfolded like a limited series? We meet the characters, some heroic and noble, others striking us as less than honorable, downright criminal. We count down the minutes together knowing exactly how much time we’re committing to these people. If life gets in the way, we can simply pause or even stop the story altogether. We can tell ourselves, “No, not tonight. I just can’t handle Peter and Rose and wondering if they’re going to be okay. No, I’ll read a book instead, or listen to some music.” 


Eventually the drama and the action are over, and we process the resolution. On Netflix we even get to rate the show! Netflix asks me, “What did you think?” and I get to choose, “Not for me”, “I like this”, or “Love this!” And the streaming service chooses options for me based on my response. Yes, wouldn’t it be wonderful if life was like a limited series? Maybe not the explosions and wrongly accused innocents. But I’d love knowing exactly how much time I’m committing to a person or a situation, with the ability to stop when I’ve had enough. 

No, life will never be like a limited series, but with good reason. We’re called to go all in with life and the people who are living it with us. We can step back when people are hurting us, but we can’t change to an easier or more enjoyable show. We’ve got to buckle up, grab some popcorn and an oversized soda, and keep going.


But if noble and heroic Peter Sutherland from “The Night Agent” walks into my life, I’ll buy him a cup of coffee and ask him to stay as long as he wants, explosions and assassins and all.


Jann Goar Franklin graduated Russellville High School in 1989. You can reach her at