It’s the best time of the year and all my favorite shows have returned over the past few weeks (or soon will be in the coming days). I’m delighted and thrilled, yet simultaneously, not as inclined to watch right away as I typically am.
I prefer to live a very spoiler free life, and thereby try to watch shows the night they air, or the following morning. I like to be current on such things, and I like to always be in the know. (Don’t we all?) But this fall season I haven’t felt that need, in fact, I’ve been just the opposite. Feeling more along the lines of, ‘eh, I’ll binge watch and catch up for the mid-season finale’ or ‘I’ll save 4 episodes and watch them all at once.’ This is a dramatic change from my usual stance, and I can’t help but blame Netflex, Hulu, etc., and the trend of binge watching.
I’ve become so conditioned to hit next episode (or merely let it keep playing to the delight of the truly lazy), to know that I don’t have to suffer through the cliff hanger I just witnessed, to power through each storyline, to be able to see as much as I want to see at a time. No longer am I use to being told when the cut off will come.
There is pros and cons to both. The week long delay (or more) between each episode is effective and dramatic. Binge watching can be an overload, and storylines that are meant to feel long are seen as only one evening of viewing. Yet, regular TV can be difficult to retain details and embrace the characters week to week (even with a brief recap at the beginning). With binge watching, characters become apart of my life (as I spend 4 hours* each night with them, they become more familiar to me than the average person in my real life). When it comes to regular TV, I know I’m invested in these characters of seasons past, but right now I can’t always recall why.
Is there a difference in commitment to each style of watching? Are the more “true fans” the ones that start from the beginning and wait with each week and season break? Are you just as loyal if you watch a show over the course of 5 years than those who take 5 weeks? Is our TV viewing experience forever changed?