It was the summer of 2001. I was doing a summer internship in New York, spending the season in the city with my mom while my parents were fighting an insane divorce battle. Neither of us had watched much of The Sopranos, so we decided to watch it from the very beginning. Every day on my way home from the theater where I was working, I went to our movie rental place and picked up the next 3-4 episodes for us to watch that evening. Over the weekend, we’d push for 7-8 per day. When we finished everything they had of The Sopranos, we moved on and did the same with Sex and the City. It was a fantastic summer.
Years later, I was working a painful marketing job based in Midrand. I was the only one in the office working during December, so I managed to grab season 5 of Dexter, the latest season that I hadn’t watched yet. I binged the whole thing, locked in that office, all alone. It made the atrocities of what Lumen went through, and the brutality of her revenge, incredibly heightened for me. Instead of stretching out the suspense over the week, my adrenaline never stopped pumping as I watched episode after episode, back to back.
More recently, Netflix has made series bingeing the norm. Every year when the latest House of Cards or Orange is the New Black releases, there is someone who finishes the whole season in less than a day, bingeing on the whole season without pausing for more than a bathroom break. The platform caters to it, queueing up the next episode as the credits roll on the current one, letting you continue watching without ever needing to push a button.
But is bingeing really the best? I know plenty of people who burn out on series if watched that way. Maybe they can handle watching one episode an evening, or even an episode every few days; if they watch more than that, they burn out and lose interest in the series all together. It even happens to me, a serial binger, with shows that can’t keep the energy going. I stopped watching Daredevil around episode 6, and also lost interest in The Following when it all became a bit silly and samey. Repetition or lack of momentum becomes glaringly apparent when you’re watching episodes back to back.
Despite the rise of “bingeing” culture on Netflix, the majority of shows still forgo this approach and continue to release one episode at a time. From Homeland to Suits, Blacklist to The Grand Tour, weekly episodes are still the traditional and normal way to release a series.
Do you prefer to sit down and watch hours of entertainment all in a row, or do you like having an episode to look forward to each week? Has bingeing amplified your enjoyment of TV shows, or do you prefer portion control?
Last Updated: November 18, 2016