'Sorry for Your Loss' creator Kit Steinkellner on why Facebook Watch as a medium helped her storytelling
When 'Sorry For Your Loss' premiered on Facebook Watch in 2018, it was a critical darling. Its official Facebook fan page was also filled with comments by people from across the world talking about how the series helped them find their own way through the grief that follows the loss of a loved one. Its episodes followed a "semi-binge" model that married the suspense of cliffhangers in traditional TV shows to the "binge-watching" satisfaction that audiences, used to streaming platforms, have come to crave. Facebook Watch released season one's first four episodes together, and then released two episodes each in the subsequent weeks.
After season 2's premiere (with three episodes released back to back), the show's creator and showrunner, Kit Steinkellner, spoke with MEA Worldwide (MEAWW) in an exclusive interview. "It was a grand experiment. In Season 1, we thought some episodes really paired well together. Episode one to four was like a really nice chunk so we released them together. And then we had the paired episodes, which were 5-6, 7-8 and 9-10. The episodes that were released together really spoke to each other in terms of their storylines and were a nice 40-55 minute watch." This season, 'Sorry For Your Loss' will follow yet another pattern. "We released the first three episodes because they were like the first act of the second season. After this, we'll be releasing one episode a week - that feels like the right way to go this season. After every episode ends, there is just enough for the audiences to really chew on. To sleep on it, think about it, discuss it. While there are no cliffhangers, audiences will want to know what happens next. As TV watchers, we all love that sweet torture of the week in between episodes wondering what is going to happen next."
Talking about the interactive nature of the medium, Steinkellner said the platform gave her the audience response that every creator dreams about. "I remember when I had written the pilot and I was trying to get it made, all I heard from producers was will people want to watch episode after episode about grief and pain. My response to that would be that sometimes shows like this is what makes me feel seen and known. It is not depressing. It is cathartic and validating. So it was gratifying to see the comments section under each of the show's episodes about how our show had been a lesson, a tool, a gift. People in pain felt less alone and other people who saw someone in pain felt they were able to respond with more compassion and empathy. There is nothing more gratifying for a show's creator than making a show that makes people feel seen and known and enable people to better see and know each other. It was a powerful experience."
Since anyone with a Facebook account can watch the show, it has a potential audience of approximately 2 billion people across the world. Steinkellner said that while the show is very specific in its setting and location (Los Angeles), it has found audiences across the world. "My favorite thing to do is to go on Twitter and look up our [show's] hashtag and use the 'Google translate' tool on Twitter to read tweets in Korean, or Russsian. To see that someone in Ecuador or Italy is moved by our show like someone in Arizona or Arkansas or LA, where it is actually set, is gratifying."
'Sorry For Your Loss' Season 2 will air new episodes on Facebook Watch every Tuesday at 12 p.m. PT and 3 p.m. ET.