This is going to be a short one, so call me a fraud for this not being a diatribe.
It’s been a few weeks now, probably longer, that I started mentioning to people the kinds of shows I watch at the moment. Shows like Taboo, Girlboss, and a handful of other shows that air weekly like Designated Survivor and American Gods.
Ever since Netflix came into existence with the idea of binging, only enhanced by their original programming, we have had a cultural love-hate relationship with the concept of binge watching a television show. I often thought it would be a good thing, watching a show in a day or two, then being completely caught up and able to converse about it.
As I get older and have more things to do in my life, I started realizing that I didn’t watch the shows for the sake of experiencing a good show or being entertained, I simply did it to get it over with. I didn’t enjoy the stories anymore.
I think the love-hate relationship part comes in when you realize that there are many shows that are designed to be watched as a big serial, usually miniseries, shorter seasons, usually cable shows, and shows that are not designed to be watched like this. The latter are purely episodic shows and those with a myth arc packaged in self-contained stories. A show like Deadwood, The Wire, or Breaking Bad is designed to be binged. They feature shorter seasonal lengths and are often designed as the chapters of a book. A recent show I have been watching that is like this are Taboo and American Gods, two great shows, but I haven’t binged on them yet either. It’s an experiment.
The other concept is that of a more traditional television show with a season arc, something that weaves and weans throughout the season without ever having precedent. Recent shows I’ve been talking about on here that are like it include Girlboss, and Arrow, the notorious Friday night hate and shame hook-up of my existence. While they tell a full story over the course of 13 or 23 episodes, they do also tell stand-alone stories or at least ones that can be watched independently.
What differs between these shows is often pace, we would say over the past few years since the concept came into existence. I don’t think that’s particularly true. Whether its 13 episodes or 23, there are many a show I have seen recently which are not paced very well at all, the likes of Jessica Jones and Iron Fist come to mind.
Overall it’s more an individual issue and I welcome the fact that we can now choose. I love the idea of taking a break every once in a while for a few weeks. Doesn’t mean I don’t like the show anymore, just that I need a break. Jessica Jones was a good example of a show that I should have stopped watching six episodes in and then resumed a couple of days or weeks later. Some shows can just crush you with their atmosphere. You also lack the time to fully absorb what has happened. This can often be the case with endings, where you rush yourself to the point of being done at 3 AM and then staring at a wall or feeling completely drained, rather than happy.
Like anything, the question should rather be if you are in the right mindset at the moment to watch a big show. If you are not, then console yourself with the fact, that you do not need to be first, you do not need to have it finished. Discussions, if they are meaningful, will be there ready to be had once you are done.