It’s no secret that we watch television differently than our parents did when they were our age. Not only that, but we watch it differently than we did 10 years ago. Rather than watching shows on a television in the family room, we watch them on our computers in our bedrooms. Rather than watching a show ‘live,’ we wait until it is on Hulu the next day or until the new season is available on Netflix or HBO GO.
Season three of the Netflix original series House of Cards was released a couple of days ago. What is unique about Netflix originals is that they are released solely online and all at once. The entire season is released at one time, so you can watch it in one sitting in what is referred to as binge-watching. However, binge-watching That 70s Show is completely different than binging on House of Cards. If you are really into House of Cards, you have to binge-watch it with everyone else so they cant spoil the ending.
Binge-watching spawned from the on-demand capabilities with instant streaming with limited to no commercials. Feeling like a lazy Sunday? No need to flip through the channels all day, just watch two seasons of Mad Men or Modern Family. If you thought you were just going to watch one episode, you are sadly mistaken. Convenience overtakes any productivity you may have had.
BuzzFeed, per usual, brilliantly sums up the struggles of binge-watching, describing the 22 stages one encounters. Stages 21 and 22 are spot on (to an extent), “You finish the last episode and are worried you don’t remember how to function in the real world; so you search for the next show to fill the void.”
When the binge comes to an end, it can be a little sad. It makes you nostalgic about your favorite episodes and characters; after all, you just invested 11 or so hours into the show. It can also be sad because there are no more episodes left to distract you from the fact that you wasted an entire day watching Netflix.
I think binge-watching can be both a good an bad thing. On one hand, you waste an entire day or two in front of the computer screen. On the other, you get it out of your system quickly and can go about the rest of your life shortly after. Sometimes I find myself thinking, “I just have to get season 4 over with so I can get back to my school work.” Is that pathetic? Maybe so. But I’d rather spend a day or two watching a show than having to plan around it every week.