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How Many Episodes Is 'Bonding'? Netflix's Bite-Sized BDSM Series Is Experimenting With Format

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The trope of the quirky dominatrix is having a bit of a ~moment~ in pop culture right now, and specifically in web series. IFC comedy Neurotica serves up an OCD-suffering dominatrix, while the darker, Margaret Cho-backed YouTube series Mercy Mistress follows the exploits of a queer Asian dominatrix. Now, Netflix is getting in on the genre, too, with Bonding, a similarly bite-sized format. Given its shortform episodes, viewers may be wondering how many episodes are in Bonding. The first season, which is currently available on Netflix, is seven episodes long. But since the series is presented in vignettes, a followup order could probably get made pretty quickly if the show does well.

Bonding follows Tiff, a psychiatry grad student who moonlights as a dominatrix, but finds herself in need of a bodyguard to help her manage clients. She enlists the help of Pete, her high-school-sweetheart-turned-gay-best-friend, who juggles a job waiting tables with stand-up comedy aspirations and perennially late rent payments. Unfortunately, he's petrified of actually getting in front of a mic, so the stand-up thing isn't going so well, and, as the late rent payments imply, neither is waiting tables. Extremely dubious about becoming Tiff's personal secret service (but equally broke and desperate for cash), Pete reluctantly agrees to the gig when he gets a whiff of exactly how much money he could make.

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Of course, along the way, Pete evolves from being kind of freaked out by Tiff's clients, to fascinated by their sex-positivity, openness, and apparent lack of shame about their proclivities. Eventually, he starts to see that the shame he's projecting onto them is his own and perhaps the real issue behind his stage fright.

The series is loosely based on the personal experiences of Rightor Doyle, who serves as writer, director, executive producer, and showrunner, according to Deadline. Bonding first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in April of 2018, and went on to screen at Outfest in Los Angeles later that summer. There, it won the LGBTQ-oriented festival's award for Best Episodic Series.

With each episode running 12-18 minutes long, the entire first season is watchable in a little under three hours. And while web series like High Maintenance have certainly set a precedent for getting picked up by major networks and converted to traditional half-hour comedies, Bonding seems to benefit from its format, rather than feel hamstrung by it. This could be an instance in which "leveling up" to a half-hour format might hinder the series.

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As The Guardian notes in its review of Bonding, this is one of the few instances in which Netflix has actually followed through on experimenting with running times (even though it's anecdotally known that they welcome series pitches which buck those norms). "This liberation is long overdue," writes Lucy Mangan. "Instances of shows that have been shrunk or stretched to fit what are basically advertisers’ needs have abounded throughout televisual history." Whether the series stays in its lane or not remains to be seen but Bonding's first seven episodes are currently streaming on Netflix.