This is the second part of my “To Binge or Not to Binge” series – You can find Part 1 [HERE]. I am not sure how coherent this entry will be, because I love talking about television shows and am a binge-aholic. However, I will try to put it all together in some kind of organized way.
I have found that there are a few ways that binge watching has improved my viewing and increased the enjoyment I get from watching television shows.
1. Most people can relate to the fact that having full seasons at your disposal, to watch at your own pace, alleviates much of the anxiety and frustration that comes with having to wait 7 days for a new episode (whether that episode has a cliffhanger or not). Though I think that having a week to think about what happened in the show and make some predictions can be a good thing, I often feel disconnected from the larger picture of the show. This definitely applies more to serialized shows rather than procedurals. I think it is harder to binge watch procedurals, though I have done it, because they are all set up exactly the same way. Without a larger picture or story arc that covers multiple episodes (or seasons), I become tired of them more quickly. Shows like House, CSI, or Law & Order are usually shows that I will catch on TV and watch an episode or two when I just want to chill out for an hour or so. Because they are procedurals, it doesn’t usually matter if you watch them out of order, so they are great for catching in syndication. Anyway, back to watching shows at your pace…When I am able to watch multiple episodes in a row, I remember pieces from previous episodes that connect to the later episodes. You see the whole story unfold before you instead of only little pieces at a time. The one show that really stands out in my mind is Prison Break. That is definitely one show where I WOULD NOT want to have to wait for more parts of the story – it really is like a four season long movie. Binge watching in this case is almost required.
2. If your friends keep telling you that there is this great show that you have to watch, bingeing is a great way to quickly get caught up. Especially if you are like me and can’t just jump into the middle of a show. I was introduced to Doctor Who in 2011, but only managed to get through the first episode (you have to admit that murderous mannequins are a hard sell for a new viewer). I was urged by my cousin to keep at it so about a year later I got through another two episodes. It wasn’t until 2013 when another friend of mine mentioned it that I finally realized how incredible the show really was. I don’t know if it was that I finally “got” the show or not, but whatever it was, “Daleks” was the episode that grabbed me and there was no going back from there. That was July of 2013 and I really wanted to catch up so that I could watch the Thanksgiving Special with my friend. I made it through all seven seasons in 20 days. Looking back I don’t remember how I did it, but my Netflix and Amazon viewing history is proof that I did – with PLENTY of time to spare before the Special! I even had time to go back and rewatch some of those very first episodes that I didn’t appreciate during the first viewing. Doctor Who isn’t the only show that I have been able to quickly catch up on for whatever reason. Because I watch so much television on Netflix, I sometimes miss what new shows are coming out. So when someone mentions a really good show, it is very convenient to be able to find the missed season(s) on Netflix to catch up before the new season begins. Plus, I get to see if it really is as “good” as they say.
3. After a hectic day, it really is nice to be able to unwind with some good television. Despite the fact that we live in a world full of quick fixes, 140 character tweets, and 6 second vines, it seems that viewers enjoy the serialized, long-form drama. And viewers are demanding more quality television shows. Even after a tough day, we still want a show that is complex and emotionally-charged – it helps us escape the stresses of our own life. The really great thing about a well-written show is that it is not only entertaining the first time, but as many times as you want to watch it. There always seems to be something to pick apart or dissect, and it is just as emotionally and intellectually engaging the second or third time. The same way that I get lost in the story of the book I am reading, I can get lost in the fictional world of the characters who have become friends. Usually, weeknights call for some bingeing on an old favorite instead of getting into a new show. I usually gravitate toward some X-Files, Stargate SG-1, or The West Wing. After a couple episodes, I am relaxed and ready to go to bed.
4. Honestly, nothing is better on a snowy day or when you are home sick than sitting down and bingeing a show that you have been saving for just such an occasion. I seriously thought that I was the only one who did this! I have been wanting to do a Sanctuary rewatch for a couple months now, but hadn’t had the right time to do it. I have several shows that I binge and it doesn’t matter if I am distracted – I watch them while I am cleaning or getting ready in the morning. However, Sanctuary is one of my all time favorite shows, so it deserves my full attention. I knew I had February break off and was saving the four seasons of this SyFy show for that occasion. I was so excited to know I would have plenty of time to watch the whole show without any interruption. I was not disappointed. As much as I loved the show as it was airing, it is so much cooler when binge watched, and even better when you have been anticipating viewing it.
What are your thoughts on binge-watching? Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts. I love conversation, so please feel free to comment!