Written by Joan Stevenson—
Since we’ve had a great deal of snowfall this winter, a lot of us have been spending a lot of time indoors. How have you been spending that time? I recently cleaned out a folder of TV shows that I’d been hoarding for about a month, which I’d been meaning to watch. I watched them all in an afternoon into evening. I don’t usually spend that much time watching shows, but I had let them pile up for a while, so I had to watch and get rid of them (or archive them if they are shows that I like). I usually watch them the day they run or one or two days after. For some time I had heard of people who binge watch, have mini marathons of their favorite shows. This phenomenon started with the onset of entire seasons of TV shows being released on DVD. I admit my first experience with this was when the DVDs of the first season of Mad Men came out. Once I got my hands on it, I had to get it home and watch it all. And I did!
Since the advent of full DVD seasons and entire series of shows becoming available and the proliferation of DVRs into our homes, the concept of the binge watch has blossomed as has our technology. Maybe you’re one of the many who have a DVR on which you record your shows to watch them later. Depending on how many TV shows you watch a week, that can be a hefty little stockpile of programs to have to catch up on, but there are other ways to get your binge on.
Services like Hulu and Netflix have also changed how we enjoy movies and television. From the beginning Hulu’s plan was to provide streaming network television entertainment to your computer or game console and Netflix was the company that sent DVDs to your door, but now they also specialize in direct streaming of content. Whether you watch on your TV, computer, or phone, this includes entire seasons of TV shows. Since the recent winter snows, how many of you have whiled away the hours watching a season (or more) of a show? Perhaps it’s a show you’ve never seen before and have been curious about. I have been a Breaking Bad fan from the first episode to the last, but since it’s end, I have heard chatter from several people who have started to watch the show because the entire run is on Netflix. Same goes for The Walking Dead. Netflix also has the option of original programing with hit shows Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards. With those shows you don’t have to wait for a weekly episode. Netflix releases the entire season at once so you can watch how much or how little you want. Thousands practically “devoured” season 2 of Cards when it was released this past month. According to TVLine.com, about two percent of Netflix 33.4 million US subscribers (about 670,000 people) binge-watched all 13 episodes of House Of Cards season 2 during it’s first weekend.
So how are you watching when you binge? One or two episodes at a time here and there or a flat out entire season in a day or weekend? That’s a great way to kill a little cabin fever. I admit that I don’t really binge because I watch all my shows relatively within a certain amount of time and rarely let them pile up, but I am likely to binge when it comes to catching up before a new season starts. I did this leading up to the final season of Breaking Bad and I have had one recently in preparation for the second season of my newest obsession, Hannibal. I may binge on the last season of 24 (love!) since there is a new chapter of that coming up this spring. I admit binging is fun. It’s like going down the rabbit hole into another world. You literally immerse yourself into the world of whatever you’re watching for hours, for days, and that can be pretty powerful. If it’s a show you love, binging further feeds your fanaticism. It can also create feelings of nostalgia if it’s a show from your past you may have grown up with. “Hey remember that episode when…?” Just about any TV show past or present can be binged. If it’s not available on Netflix or Hulu, you may have to go “old school” and kick it with some DVDs, but whatever TV show you’re passionate about. I’m sure it’s available somehow, somewhere. With all the choices being made available, I admit it’s all so very tempting.
So the next time you’re stuck inside for a week, or weekend, you might consider a binge or two till the snow melts (which hopefully will be soon). I’m sure there’s a TV show you’ve been curious about or that your friends have been bugging you to watch, so tuck in. Just make sure you have plenty of snacks, but do please take breaks now and then. You don’t want to be a complete zombie. Unless you’re watching The Walking Dead, then maybe it’s appropriate, lol.