Just Binge It?


Photograph courtesy of Giang Nguyen

Binge-watching is a new phenomenon that rose up with the creation of the Internet. At first, streaming services for TV shows were very hard to come by, to say the least. People might remember being able to watch their favorite show on YouTube split into 4 parts (if lucky), or on lesser known streaming sites where one could only watch a certain number of hours using its service before having to purchase a membership. In general, though, streaming your favorite anime or reality tv show was almost impossible to get for free (or even inexpensively) back then. Now we’re able to binge-watch things thanks to Netflix, Hulu, HBOGo and other streaming services.

“Binge culture” has made it hard to watch TV shows once a week like we did before. Netflix has embraced binge culture by releasing whole seasons of their original series instead of a slow stream of episodes. More recently, Cartoon Network has begun “Steven Bombs” where they release one episode of Steven Universe once a day for five days, typically on the weekday.

People almost have to watch these series in one go just to avoid spoilers. This way, viewers have more time to catch up on their favorite show before the final episode drops. It is almost expected to watch the entire series in one sitting on the day it released, otherwise you’re not a real fan or you risk encountering spoilers courtesy of people who did binge it.

When you’re forced to watch everything all at once you’re not thinking too much about what is happening. With a week’s buffer time, it’s easier to speculate about the plot or come to your own conclusions about the story. But in watching everything on the same day, the viewer usually just takes in the story for the sake of it.

There’s no chance to think about the plot unless you are a dedicated fan that over analyzes everything. I am guilty of binge-watching shows, as I watched all of Law and Order SVU in the span of a few months. Admittedly I did not really watch it. Rather I just played it in the background, and whenever an episode interested me, I’d watch it. I don’t really remember much of the plot for other shows that I’ve binge-watched in the past. Of course I know the general plot of Castlevania, but I cannot recall many of the character names.

Binge culture is killing shows. Had I watched the show in week intervals, I probably would have retained more of the story.

The next time you binge watch something, try to take a step back and think about how you’re watching the show now, versus how you would watch it if you did so on a weekly basis.