If you watched The Irishman, at some point during the course of its three-and-a-half hour runtime, you may have thought that its epic, decades-spanning story could have been adapted into a TV series. The tale of mobster Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran and his friendships with mafia boss Russell Bufalino and Teamsters head Jimmy Hoffa is just that dense and rich. But in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the director shot down the idea—so don’t expect a Hateful Eight-style miniseries coming to Netflix soon.
“You could say, ‘This is a long story, you can play it out over two seasons’—I saw somebody mention that,” Scorsese told EW. “Absolutely no. I’ve never even thought of it. Because the point of this picture is the accumulation of detail. It’s an accumulated cumulative effect by the end of the movie—which means you get to see from beginning to end [in one sitting] if you’re so inclined.”
The film’s length has sparked debate on social media, particularly in the wake of a viral tweet offering a guide to watching the film as a four-part mini-series. (I guess with Scorsese having pretty thoroughly bodied critics of his now-infamous take on Marvel films with that elegant New York Times op-ed, it was time for movie fans to find a new argument.) Some fans responded that the film should be watched in one sitting, as its creator intended.
Scorsese has worked in television, and was a co-creator of HBO’s Vinyl. “A series is great, it’s wonderful, you can develop character and plot lines and worlds are recreated,” he said to EW. “But [The Irishman] wasn’t right for that.”
But, for anyone who’d love to sit on the couch for nearly four hours but just can’t make the time, it’s hard to imagine there’s any reason to feel bad for watching the film in shifts. If preventing people from hitting the pause button was anywhere near his top priority for this particular project, Scorsese probably wouldn’t have made it for the world’s most famous in-home movie streaming platform.