Back at the top of the year I wrote an article on the growing popularity over the past few years for TV shows that play with the conventional use of time (Playing with time ...). It prompted a nice discussion in the comments with Tom suggesting reading "Everything Bad is Good For You" by Steven Johnston.
Just a week after posting that article I ended up being pointed towards “Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television” by Jason Mittell. This essay is the answer that I was so desperately trying to grasp at in that article. It's not that long and totally worth the read if you are at all interested in why TV shows are being written the way that they are today.