To binge, or not to binge…

Posted on February 20, 2014 9:00 am

BingeWatchingFor some reason, it’s now news to talk about binge watching.

Binge watching, if you don’t know, is watching a whole bunch of shows at once. And it’s not really a new phenomenon.

Back in the days when you recorded stuff on your VCR — Does anyone still do that? Other than Harvey, perhaps? — you could keep all the episodes together and watch them. I had a wife that did that for her stories. (That’s soap opera, for you kids.) She’d set up the VCR to record her favorite show, then watch them all. She would sometimes watch one or two, then have to fast forward back to where the tape was so that she wouldn’t record over the next episode or two before she watched it. So, binge watching was NOT the best way with VHS tapes.

TiVo solved the whole issue of only watching one or two and having to make sure you didn’t record over an episode you hadn’t watched. Then, you didn’t have to binge watch. But, it also made it easier to record a bunch of other shows. But you didn’t have time to watch them until the weekend, so that actually made for more binge watching.

Shows would come out on VHS and later on DVD, and you could buy whole seasons of shows and sit and watch them. Still can. Well, DVDs anyway.

Then came streaming. You could get Netflix and that catalog of online content. You can also get Hulu/Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime/Instant Video, Crackle, or any of hundreds of other online services and Websites.

So, binge watching isn’t new. But it’s apparently news.

In the last 24 hours, there have been a series of news stories talking about how bad binge watching is. Except for the stories that talk about how good binge watching is.

At The Daily Beast, Roland Martin has his panties in a wad over binge watching. Apparently, that’s important to him.

Then, there’s a story by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang in The Independent that says binge watching is good for you.

So, who are you going to believe?

I binge watch. I’ll watch several episodes at once, whether from a streaming service, or something recorded from the TiVo. And, I’ll watch other shows as soon as they come out. It really depends on the show.

For instance, I watched every episode of Breaking Bad as soon as I could. I do the same thing with Justified. I don’t wait to watch the next episode.

Of course, after the Breaking Bad finale, I binge watched the whole series from start to finish. It gave it a little different perspective, and I enjoyed it just as much. I tried that with The Shield one time, and had to stop and go take a bath, just to get the grittiness of the show off me. I never finished binge watching The Shield, though I did watch each episode. Just one at a time.

How about you? Is this a big enough deal for you to even care about? And which way do you go?

Do you binge watch? If so, what? If not, do you think that binge watchers a bunch of sad, lonely, pathetic excuses for human beings? Or are they simply fans enjoying their pastimes in the best way possible?

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19 Responses to “To binge, or not to binge…”

  1. Fred Key says:

    I don’t spend my life pathetically binge watching TV shows. I spend it pathetically yelling at the news and reading stoopid books and playing games on the laptop.

  2. Harvey says:

    For the record, I have all 120 episodes of Babylon 5 on VHS.

    I also have them all on a 64GB USB thumb drive.

    Which is what I watched last time I rewatched the series, because – no commercials.

    Which is the real reason we binge-watch.

  3. Veeshir says:

    So does binge watching kill or hurt anybody?

    No?

    Then what’s the problem??

    People need to relearn the difference between what’s their business and what’s not.

  4. Iowa Jim says:

    At The Daily Beast, Roland Martin has his panties in a wad over binge watching. Apparently, that’s important to him.

    Then, there’s a story by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang in The Independent that says binge watching is good for you.

    So, who are you going to believe?

    This is a real dilemma. My general rule is to believe the one who doesn’t have a hyphen in his name, but I have another rule not to believe anybody who writes for The Daily Beast.

  5. James says:

    Back in the day when The Sopranos was showing, we didn’t have HBO and I didn’t have time to rent individual episodes from BlockBuster (remember them?). Ah, but Christmas was a time where I could sit on my butt for a few days straight and watch an entire season back to back which, given the numerous characters that come and go, was a more effective use of my limited spare time.

    Now that I have IMAO to read I have no spare time.

  6. Jimmy says:

    It’s amazing how much time we have for binging now that Frank doesn’t write for his own blog anymore. Why, it might just be time for another Twilight Zone marathon!

  7. jw says:

    @6 Jimmy-

    remember when it was “marathon” with the party implication, rather than “binge” with the sickness implication?

    (of course if you are watching “Friends” it truly is a sickness…)

  8. Harvey says:

    @7 – Huh… when I hear “marathon”, I always think of dentists asking “is it safe?”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzw1_2b-I7A

  9. Jimmy says:

    @7: I do! But I hate Friends. It’s why I don’t have any Friends around here. I also hate Frank.

  10. jw says:

    @8

    but Harvey, you aren’t a well man. :)

    swing by and let me have a look at that second molar sometime…

  11. Peregrine John says:

    Nope. I watch what I can when I can, and sometimes that means 3 episodes of the same thing on the big screen while I edit stuff on my laptop. But if I have more time than that, there is no way I could sit still for it, let alone performing passive intake. Unless I was horribly sick or something and couldn’t do anything else anyway.

    Still not sure why it’s newsworthy, though. Sure, it’s a sign of too much time and not enough interesting things to do, but for once it’s something all the kids are doing that I’m not the least envious of.

  12. Gendaibushi says:

    Fixing for a Vikings marathon in preperation for the new season…

  13. Clay Aiken says:

    Vikings marathon? Wasn’t that superbowly thingie just on? Oh well, go Niners! That guy with all those tats who stands in the middle of the line and commands all those big men to move is so butch!

  14. Dohtimes says:

    I binge watch. I even binged out on Lark Rise to Candleford and won’t get my man card back until I give up my dream of marriage to Dorcas Lane. Never!!! But having no cable I mostly watch Brit shows and old movies and new dreck from Hollywood on DVD from the library. For anyone interested The Hour 2 was just in and I found both the first and second (very) short series examples of great writing, acting and production.

  15. Oppo says:

    I second both Basil’s comment and James’.

    It depends on the show.

    “The Sopranos” is best watched in marathon form. You don’t have to be reminded who’s who, and there are cliffhangers you want to see resolved.

    Series with self-contained episodes, like “Seinfeld” or “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” can give you videoverdose ™ if you overindulge in one sitting.

  16. Basil says:

    Oppo:

    Is that “Sherlock” the one with Benedict Cumberbatch that sister keeps telling me to watch? Of course, you probably don’t know my sister, so that might not be a fair question.

  17. Oppo says:

    @Basil: I was referring to my personal favorite, the Jeremy Brett incarnation.

    And I forgot to add under “The Sopranos” that having the previous episodes in your mind (fresh) helps you not just know and remember, but emotionally feel, why someone is acting the way they are.

  18. Denise says:

    I love binge watching. I make up my own binges. Like last Christmas, I went through all our movies and set out all that had a Christmas scene. That took about two weeks. We’ll have John Wayne night or WWII or, you get the idea. Tonight we’ll be starting season 8 of Stargate.

  19. 4of7 says:

    When I ‘binge’ it had nothing to do with videos.

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