Since we are experiencing a world pandemic where social distancing and isolation have become the “norm”, I wanted to write on the topic of binge-watching versus anticipating a new episode every week. I don’t know about you, but A LOT of my time has been spent on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+. Last Saturday I binge-watched the entirety of #blackAF on Netflix in the span of the afternoon only stopping to get snacks. But you know what? I’m not even mad because what I needed on Saturday afternoon was what I needed, and that’s the tea.
I’m not writing this to judge my viewing habits, I just want to explore the concept of bingeing which probably started to become a widespread viewing habit since streaming services started to become popular. Matt and I have binge-watched so many shows, it’s not even funny. To be fair we’ve been together and living together for a while. Everything from The Office (twice), Bob’s Burgers, The Blacklist, Mad Men, Friends, Community, Titans, The Boys, Parks and Rec, etc. You get the point. It’s just so accessible and easy to get drawn in. Don’t want to pick a movie? Keep watching the show.
Binge-watching, in my opinion, is not negative, rather I participate, and I enjoy it (hence the numerous shows we’ve watched in this manner, listed and not listed). I guess for me the aspect of it that I’m trying to explore is the lack of anticipation of waiting for the new episode. With binge-watching you don’t really have the anticipation aspect, unless you’re waiting for a new season to be released (*ahem* Sex Education *ahem*).
Even reality shows like Love is Blind and Too Hot to Handle are easy to access and become quick fan favourites. They don’t even need the commercials that promote the anticipation of the new episode being released the following week. The social media buzz promotes the shows itself. I mean Too Hot to Handle just came out on Friday and Matt and I have one more episode left as I write this post. Also, Tiger King anyone?
All of this is great, don’t get me wrong. But let us just for a moment reminisce on the times when we used to anticipate new episodes weekly and then wait entire seasons for a new season of a show (omg is this why they’re called seasons???? Probably, I’m just a little slow). The show that got me thinking about this was, believe it or not (but you most likely will), The Bachelor. I’ve watched The Bachelor before, but Matt had not (on a side note, I’m sorry his first season had to be Peter Weber’s).
Anyways, the anticipation week after week was exciting and reminded me of when I used to watch Vampire Diaries, Grey’s Anatomy, and The Originals with my mum and how Thursday (?) nights were our mum and daughter time. The commercials allowed us to take breaks, get snacks, and discuss while the weekly releases of the episodes allowed us to set aside time to spend together, even if it was watching TV. We were busy people.
I find with anticipation that it also gives me a fake sense of self control. The TV guide is controlling what and when I’m watching so I believe that I’m not watching a lot of TV. Whereas, with streaming services there’s no such checks in place. I have quickly learned that I have no willpower with TV shows and the “Are you still watching?” question does not jar me out of my binge-watching stupor whatsoever. But mainly, I guess the anticipation I’ve been thinking about has been linked to nostalgia. There’s been a lot of change ever since I was a kid: VHS to DVD; I used to listen to tapes whereas now I pay for Spotify; I had a Walkman but now my phone is basically one; only one person in my house could use internet at a time due to the limits of the ethernet cable but Wi-Fi is oh so handy now; and finally, we used to watch cable and anticipate shows whereas now we have streaming services and can watch as much as we like, wherever and whenever we want.
I like either to be honest, but I do miss cable mainly for the commercials. Though, with my binge-watching I could set some more limits on exactly how much TV I’m watching. Both have their perks and downfalls but it’s kind of cool to see the transition. What do you prefer? The anticipation of the new episodes being released weekly or the ability to binge-watch? Let me know in the comments!