Binge Watching

Netflix has given rise to the term binge watching. It happens when viewers have the choice to watch full seasons of a TV series available online, rental or for purchase. Not only does the definition include TV series, but it also includes movies. Some folks, including me, call these binge watching sessions marathons. I know of a couple of friends who have gone a weekend watching full seasons of 24.

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II

Today, for Freedom Friday, I would like to talk about my binge watching sessions and tell you a bit of what I’ve learned from the experience.

For me, it all started with The Godfather. One Christmas, many years ago, I received The Godfather collection on DVD. It’s a gift I’d always wanted, since I’d eaten through my VHS tape copies and needed a replacement for the films. Way back in the distant past, the only way to enjoy this series was through TV. Like everyone else, I had to wait until the next movie in the series would air to find out what happened with Michael Corleone. I eventually purchased the VHS tapes, but sometimes my VCR mangled the tapes and it left me with a free night to do nothing other than stare at a blank television screen.

Anyway, once I had The Godfather series on DVD that fateful Christmas morning, a day later I took to my TV and gorged on all that is mob-related. Watching the movies in context with one another is an experience. Gone is the delay of waiting to see what happens. The other benefit was not having to remember what the character’s names were because they were still fresh in my mind. With subsequent marathons, I also could connect the various events that happened in the movies with each other and determine how they related with one another. I find it’s something I can’t do when I watch something once a week or every few years or so.

Breaking Bad's Jesse and Heisenberg

Breaking Bad’s Jesse and Heisenberg

Recently, my binge watching has included The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Trailer Park Boys, Breaking Bad and, just a few weeks ago, The Walking Dead.

In particular with Breaking Bad, I found the show more enjoyable without the interruptions between episodes. Walt, the cancer-stricken meth producer became more real as did his addict assistant Jesse. I could feel the adrenaline rush as they attempted to escape death from every turn.

In the case of The Walking Dead, when watching the last episode of Season 4 and the first episode of Season 5 back-to-back, my stomach tightened from one scene to another as I wondered what will happen next. I couldn’t stop from watching the protagonist unravel. Rick had me from the opening and wouldn’t let go.

Experiences like that provide for an awesome event to remember. And I also think the stories and characters become more meaningful. I know as a writer, I appreciate the plot beats to the point where they are now something to spot, “Ah, there should be a twist right about now!” Things like that make binge watching a treat.

My recommendation? If you haven’t done it, try it. It truly is something everyone should appreciate.

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What shows or movies have you dedicated to binge watching either in the past or recently?

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24 Comments

  1. The other thing I notice with binge watching is how little time some series give stories to develop. If a show was filmed to be watched over weeks rather than hours, a relationship feels like it’s built over time but can be rushed within three episodes. This is more obvious nowadays and is sometimes quite jarring.

    Reply
  2. My husband downloaded all four past seasons of Game of Thrones a little while ago and we flew through the whole bit in less than two weeks. Not sure if that counts as a binge but was definitely a mini marathon at points. Of course with my crappy memory, we’ll have to do the binge/marathon again before the new season starts in April. 😛

    Reply
  3. You raised my blood pressure through the roof when I saw the picture of the spiders in the corner of the ceiling. I’ll be lying there, eyes wide open all night tonight.

    Reply
  4. I’m a big fan of binge watching, with some shows its a must do if you want to get the full story without the interruptions. Recently I have been binge watching Doctor Who from the 9th Doctor to the 12th. My daughter who is 9 showed an interest and because I encourage anything geeky of course I had to watch it with her to explain the hard bits lol. Other favourite binge shows include The Walking Dead (of course) Dexter, Torchwood, and Sherlock. Sometimes you just need down time with old friends right?
    I haven’t watched Breaking Bad before but it sounds like a show I may need to look into.

    Reply
    • Binge watching works great with Breaking Bad. I never once lost the context of the final season, had I watched it every week instead!

      Reply
  5. sonea scissorhands

     /  February 7, 2015

    With the time I have had (due to my illness), I guess ‘binge’ should be my middle name as I have sat through a couple of shows in a month or so although I am currently not as attached yet. My favourite shows so far have been Dexter, Breaking Bad (though hard to watch at times), Boardwalk Empire, Revenge, Prison Break and Supernatural.

    I’m sure the list will only grow longer :p

    Reply
  6. Three episodes in a row is probably my limit. (Season two of Defiance I think.) But a binge session sounds like a good idea with the right food and drink at hand. Five seasons of the Wire should have me set up and ready for a Monday morning!
    Chris

    Reply
  7. Heh. I was that way about the X-Files, except that it was before we had Netflix and when DVD rental was still a thing…so I wound up renting (or buying, since I have some seasons of the show) every season and movie for the franchise…spent many Friday nights in college binge-watching X-Files, and then feeling sad that I spent my only day that wasn’t devoted to classes and papers watching television. >.<"

    Reply
  8. Last year my wife and i binge watched Breaking Bad just before the second half of the final season. We would watch three or four episodes a night until we were finally caught up. Waiting for each new episode was agony — a week at a time! It was, and probably will remain, my favorite television program ever. Incredible writing, acting, everything. Certainly one-of-a-kind. Now we devour (no pun intended) Walking Dead. It’s in a different league, but we turn off the lights, settle in, and enjoy.

    Reply
  9. Blue290

     /  February 6, 2015

    Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Enterprise, Game of Thrones…and House of Cards! What a roller coaster these shows take you on. Sometimes I feel hollowed out after an episode.

    Reply
  10. My first binge watch was Twin Peaks on VHS. It probably deserves a rewatch by now.

    Reply
  11. I just love Bubbles! 🙂

    Reply
  12. The first series I ever binge watched was the Twin Peaks tv series, with the Twin Peaks movie, “Fire Walk With Me” as the crazy cherry-on-top finale…had watched the series before, but the immersion gave it a whole new meaning for me. And the movie…that was a weird week! Cheers, Jack, and Sunday cometh…

    Reply
  13. When ‘House of Cards’ came out on Netflix I wanted to watch to see how badly the Americans could once again screw up a British program I loved Ian Richardson in the original. Wow! I binge watched Kevin Spacey and thought the series was brilliant!

    Reply
  14. zathra

     /  February 6, 2015

    I watch documentaries on Youtube.
    & I might start ” binge watching ” that new detective series with Rainn Wilson on Fox ( If I can remember the name….. Ach ! )
    I watch Law & Order, NCIS & Modern Family a lot. Love some Twilight Zone.

    There are only a few series that I invest a lot of time & interest in, the rest of time, the TV is just an extra light source in the room that also generates white noise.

    Reply
  15. I’ve been guilty of this since I first bought my Netflix subscription and cancelled the cable service. House, M.D., Supernatural, Law and Order, Friends… If my computer is within reach and not occupied, something is playing on loop.
    But it is interesting to note the callbacks and references (and repeated guest stars, in some cases) that you catch when watching this way, that would otherwise go unnoticed if it was watched weekly and with a two or three month gap between seasons. TV scriptwriters have it a lot more together than you’d think, sometimes. 😄

    Reply
  16. Binge-watching. My elder son and I were discussing this phenomenon just this week, actually. I have binge-watched some fantastic Korean television shows (historicals, usually, that I just got hooked on in a big way), the entire first season of House of Cards, etc. I’ve heard M*A*S*H is heading to Netflix soon, and I am for sure going to binge-watch that, too. I loved that show.

    I love the immersion, the immediacy. And then I feel a bit guilty, because there were so many OTHER things I could have been doing. But. Becoming immersed in another world is a good thing for writers. 🙂

    At least, that’s what I tell myself. lol

    Reply
  17. I usually have a TV show or anime one when I’m doing anything other than first draft writing. Not sure if this counts as binge watching since it’s typically stuff I already watched and I’m not really paying attention. I just don’t have it in me to sit for longer than a movie and not do anything else.

    Reply

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