Flashbacks in Netflix Original TV Series (2013–2017): Predominant Categories, Formal Features, and Semantic Effects

José Antonio Planes, Alberto N. García, Ernesto Pérez-Morán


This article presents a quantitative and qualitative analysis of formal and semantic trends of the flashback in Netflix original drama series between 2013 and 2017. The purpose is to determine whether such temporal digressions are commonplace to develop a better understanding of the evolution of television storytelling in the streaming era. The method applied involves a scene-by-scene quantitative analysis of temporality in 33 pilot episodes, an original methodology in television narratology. This is followed by a theoretical definition of the five categories of flashback: delimited, expository, undefined, independent, and oneiric. Tables displaying the data support the results of the study. The subsequent discussion combines the data with a qualitative analysis to identify patterns in how Netflix dramas juxtapose the five categories of flashbacks. Three conclusions are offered: the prevalence of temporal disruptions; the wide variety of flashback categories appearing in Netflix drama series; and the formal simplicity using these tropes.


narrative, Netflix, narratology, flashback, television, serial

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