For decades, TV shows had the same structure: an opening montage or story synopsis, typically sung or narrated, so newer viewers could understand the story and characters right away.
Meanwhile, regular viewers had to listen to how The Brady Bunch got together. Every. Goddamn. Episode.
As the internet grew and attention spans shrank, intros got shorter. Scrubs‘ intro was just 20 seconds long. By the fourth season, it was five seconds. And Louis CK’s Louie got right to the point this season with no opening whatsoever.
Modern audiences are story savvy. We’ve become really good at making assumptions, jumping in midway and figuring it out.
When you lose exposition, you focus on now. And that’s where great improv lies.
A Harold traditionally has some kind of opening (the form, after all, was modelled after TV and film) but even that’s changing. More and more long-form shows start with scenes. And dynamic scenes start in the middle.
Even if you just have a fragment of something to begin with, that’s OK. Make assumptions. Decide to know each other. Make bold choices, and you’ll figure it out as you go.
Another way to think of it is like an Oreo cookie.
In Canada there’s a brand called Eat The Middle First. The boring outer layer is like all those scenes that start with “Hey,” “Hi,” and other timid offers. Feel free to ditch that and dive right in to the fun part.
Don’t wait to get to the good stuff.