TV history is littered with series that suffer from not knowing how many episodes they need to tell their story. The one I always come back to is LOST. If producers and the network could have just mapped out the series in advance and established reasonable arcs for the relevant characters, they would have avoided what I’ve always called “filler episodes” (or perhaps even “filler seasons”). You know the ones, the episodes where nothing really happens and whatever cliffhanger they manufacture is far from satisfying.

Two people who have figured this out are Danny McBride and Jody Hill, the co-creators of the upcoming HBO series Vice Principals. McBride, who has previously worked with Hill on Eastbound & Down and The Foot Fist Way, explained exactly why the series will be limited to only 18 episodes.

“We just wanted to make a really long movie. It’s one school year and a complete story,” McBride told Variety at the show’s premiere. “This was an old screenplay that Jody [Hill] and I wrote back in 2006. But we needed it to be longer, so we added and reworked it and broke it up into 18 segments.”

McBride was later asked by the publication if they’d change their mind should Vice Principals become an overwhelming hit. He offered a very brief response.

“No,” he said. “We already shot the 18 episodes and that’s it.”

Maybe others will follow their lead?

Vice Principals premieres on HBO on July 17.

David Eckstein is a writer living in Los Angeles.