This summer, I watched all of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in less than two weeks. That’s over 100 episodes. I’ve done this with numerous shows and it’s an easy way to occupy time and quickly become invested in a show. It’s nice to put it on when you’re getting ready, doing homework, eating dinner, etc. You keep letting Netflix know you’re still watching because, yes, watching eight episodes (or more) in one day is perfectly acceptable. And it is. Whether there are only two seasons or the entire series available somewhere online, it can be nice to establish a quick relationship with a show and become hooked. But sometimes when you binge-watch a show, you can miss out on a lot of things.
Live TV is a dying thing. Let’s face it, when you can find a show online and watch it anytime at your convenience, why would you want to rush to the TV at 8:00 PM on a Wednesday when you could be doing something a lot more productive? I remember before the invention of DVRs that I would actually make a commitment to watching the show at its scheduled time, commercials and all, or (way old school) taping it on VHS. I love DVRs and am not hating on them at all — skipping commercials and watching things online is a blessing.
But the point I’m trying to make is that when you watch a show as it airs, week by week and year by year, you build a true connection with it. And although that month that I binge-watched Buffy on Netflix resonates with a certain part of my freshman year, it wouldn’t be the same if I followed the show for the years it actually aired.
Just like you mature as the years go by, so do the characters. As you may cut your hair right before a new school year starts, your favorite character might also have gotten a makeover. With only one episode a week, you have something to look forward. It gives you time to ruminate on that episode and, most importantly, appreciate it in its singularity. Each series has its dud episodes, but then the week with the truly special episode stands out.
There are so many times when I’ve binge-watched a show, just to keep wanting to find out important plot points. But in saving myself time, I’ve almost lost the essence of the shows. All the episodes blur together and you can’t quite connect the same. Now with the rise of social media, as each episode airs, there are live-tweets, buzzfeed articles, discussion posts, etc. Each weekly episode and the developments that come along with it become way more important than if you had watched an entire series that week. Also, let’s not forget the amount of time and effort that go into making just one episode. Writers and actors want you to take time and appreciate their work, not just mass-consume it.
It’s definitely frustrating to wait each week if something crazy just happened, but that’s just part of the fun! I’m not a part of the show’s journey when I binge-watch and you really miss out on the journey that comes with watching a show as it airs.
I definitely still binge-watch things, especially because if an entire series is online and I know I can watch as many episodes as I want at a time, I’m not going to wait each week to watch one. It’s really tempting and difficult. As much as I love Netflix, the true magic of following a series just isn’t there anymore. Think about that next time you decide to start a new show.