The Super Bowl remains the biggest event on TV every year by several orders of magnitude, and so it stands to reason that most other programs would want to stay away from it, lest no one view them.
As such, it’s tradition for some series to shift their air dates to avoid getting flattened by the Super Bowl, and in 2020, that means HBO is doing exactly that for one highly watched series in particular, its new mystery, The Outsider.
The fifth episode of The Outsider, Tear-Drinker (ew) actually went live yesterday, but I only figured that out now, so I figured I would share it with you here. HBO also has its episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Avenue 5 live now too, if that’s more your speed.
Given that The Outsider is a limited series, I thought it was only going to be maybe six episodes to finish out the Stephen King book. Though now looking it up, I can see that it’s supposed to run a full ten episodes instead, which will mean it will be airing all the way through March 8, if it doesn’t take any breaks.
The Outsider is turning into a pretty solid success story for HBO, with solid enough critic scores (74% on Rotten Tomatoes), very high viewer scores (94%) and ratings that have increased from the premiere, rather than gone down. That’s a sign of people hearing about the show through word of mouth, catching up, and then tuning in. Oftentimes you see big premieres and then numbers go down as people lose interest, but the opposite is happening here.
The Outsider stands out from a sea of similar mysteries due to its supernatural elements, courtesy of King’s original story. This isn’t Sharp Objects or Big Little Lies, this is something else entirely, a murder mystery but also a horror story, a very long film told over the course of ten hours. A decade ago this probably would have just been condensed into a movie, but more and more in this age of streaming and premium content, stories like this are being turned into limited run series instead, probably to everyone’s benefit.
Netflix recently debuted a very similar sounded series from their own big author contact, Harlan Corben’s The Stranger. I binged that on day one and found it somewhat underwhelming, but I am still deeply hooked on The Outsider, and given HBO’s release model, it’s something we’re all going to be talking about for most of the next two months every Sunday.
I have not yet watched this early release episode as I’m about to get on the road for a trek to an out of state Super Bowl party, but I will probably watch it tonight. Expect ratings to dip this week for obvious reasons, but by the end of the series I would not be surprised to see further increases.