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  • Binge-Watching

    This article on America's new preference for binge-watching shows rather than waiting for weekly delivery is pretty interesting. It uses House of Cards to make a point on how a binge watcher perceives shows differently:

    A paper swan, made of a $20 bill and tossed at Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) in one episode, turns up repeatedly throughout the back half of the season. It represents her own unknowable quality, a tightly bound mystery that’s contorted and bent.

    A perceptive viewer, watching House of Cards over the course of 13 weeks, might remember the swan when it reappears each time. Watching it over the course of two days, the paper swan becomes hugely symbolic, turning up in multiple episodes and in multiple guises: here a $20 bill, there detritus in Claire’s handbag destined for the trash can. A child’s paper scorpion contains the sting of regret, while a large swan becomes a farewell gesture to a lover as well as a bitter lesson. In viewing these episodes so closely together, the swan, in all of its incarnations, becomes one of a dozen seemingly weighty leitmotifs at play within the narrative.
    What have you binge watched? What shows do you refuse to binge watch, and why?

    Here are my binge watching shows:

    Firefly
    Downton Abbey
    House of Cards

    What I'd like to binge watch but isn't available:

    Justified

  • #2
    I binge watch almost exclusively. There are no shows on tv that I'm willing to wait a week or more between episodes.* I will wait until the season over and then watch it all in a week or two.

    Here's a list of the shows I've binged watched in the last year or so:

    The Newsroom
    Justified Season 3
    Deadwood Season 2
    Homeland Season 2
    Damages Season 3
    Friday Night Lights (all 5 seasons)
    House of Lies Season 1
    Veep
    Game of Thrones Season 1 (*I actually watched Season 2 week-to-week, but only because my wife wanted to watch it together and she was going to start as soon as she could).
    Dexter Season 6
    ..probably a bunch more. Its the only way to watch!
    Ain't it like most people, I'm no different. We love to talk on things we don't know about.

    "The only one of us who is so significant that Jeff owes us something simply because he decided to grace us with his presence is falafel." -- All-American

    GIVE 'EM HELL, BRIGHAM!

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    • #3
      Alias seasons 1-2
      24 seasons 1-5
      Downton Abbey seasons 1-3 (I'm currently very pissed about S3:E9)
      The Booth at the End season 1
      Mad Men seasons 1-4
      Breaking Bad seasons 1-3
      Hell on Wheels season 1
      The Sopranos seasons 1-4
      Dexter seasons 1-4
      The Wire seasons 1-5
      Battlestar Galactica seasons 1-2
      Parks & Recreation seasons 1-4
      Survivors seasons 1-2 (BBC show, not the gameshow)
      Sherlock all of the episodes
      "Yeah, but never trust a Ph.D who has an MBA as well. The PhD symbolizes intelligence and discipline. The MBA symbolizes lust for power." -- Katy Lied

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      • #4
        Dexter Seasons 1-3
        Breaking Bad Seasons 1-4
        Downton Abbey
        Sherlock
        Justified (torrents)

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        • #5
          It would be much easier for me to make a list of the series that I have not watched in binge mode.

          This author makes an interesting case against binge-watching:

          http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/..._to_stop_.html

          I have to admit that I have enjoyed savoring each episode of Breaking Bad for the past two seasons (watched the first few seasons in binge mode).
          "There is no creature more arrogant than a self-righteous libertarian on the web, am I right? Those folks are just intolerable."
          "It's no secret that the great American pastime is no longer baseball. Now it's sanctimony." -- Guy Periwinkle, The Nix.
          "Juilliardk N I ibuprofen Hyu I U unhurt u" - creekster

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Katy Lied View Post

            What I'd like to binge watch but isn't available:

            Justified
            Same here. I have not seen a single episode and I want to see every episode.
            Dyslexics are teople poo...

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            • #7
              The Wire: Seasons 1-5. Twice.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Jeff Lebowski View Post
                It would be much easier for me to make a list of the series that I have not watched in binge mode.

                This author makes an interesting case against binge-watching:

                http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/..._to_stop_.html

                I have to admit that I have enjoyed savoring each episode of Breaking Bad for the past two seasons (watched the first few seasons in binge mode).
                Hmm, I'm not convinced.

                1. Episodes have their own integrity, which is blurred by watching several in a row.

                TV series must constantly sustain two narrative arcs at once: that of the individual episode—which has its own beginning, middle, and end—and that of the season as a whole. (Some shows, like Breaking Bad and The Wire, operate on a third: that of the entire series.) To fully appreciate a show, you must pay attention to each of these arcs. This is one of the defining features of television as a medium and one of the things that makes it great. A TV show is not “an imagistic tone poem,” and it shouldn’t be viewed as one.
                I've watched lots of tv, both over the course of a season and via binge-watching. I haven't noticed a sharp decline in my ability to recognize and appreciate each of the arcs he talks about. If anything, if a single episode's arc blurs a bit due to binge watching, that only corresponds to the enhancement of my understanding of the whole season's arc based on watching the episodes closely together.

                2. Cliffhangers and suspense need time to breathe.

                Taking the time to ponder which Oceanic flight 815 member the Dharma Initiative brought back to the island or why Peggy decided to tell Pete she had his baby are an essential part of the experience of a series. Take the first season of Homeland: Much of the pleasure it provided came from wracking one’s brain each week—and changing one’s mind multiple times—trying to decide whether or not Brody was a double agent. That pleasure evaporates when you simply click “play” on the next episode.
                I binged-watched both seasons of Homeland, and I still experienced the back-and-forths he describes. And at any rate, IMO cliff-hangers to me are designed to drag you back next week. Even better if they drag me bag in immediately.

                3. Episode recaps and online communities provide key analysis and insight.

                Contra David Simon, TV recaps really do enhance one’s experience of a TV show. Even if you're catching up on DVD or Netflix, you can still take the time to read recaps of nearly any episode on the A.V. Club, Hitfix, and here on Slate. They all provide great perspectives that you likely wouldn't have picked up on your own.
                I will agree with this, but I can't imagine the number of people that read recaps is anywhere near the total number of people that watch any given show. But even so, if there are recaps available, I generally read them before starting a new episode anyway, so what's the problem? The only place where this presents a problem is in new binge-only shows like House of Cards, where Sepinwall can't get to the whole series right out of the gate.

                4. TV characters should be a regular part of our lives, not someone we hang out with 24/7 for a few days and then never see again.

                Our best friends are the ones we see every so often for years, and TV characters should be the same way. I feel like I grew up with Michael Scott, because I spent 22 minutes a week with him every Thursday night for seven years. A friend of mine who recently cranked through all eight seasons of The Office in two weeks (really) probably thinks of Carrell's character like someone he hung out with at an intensive two-week corporate seminar and never saw again. Binge-watching reduces the potential for such deep, Draper-like relationships. While the Grantland piece argues that binges are the only way to forge “deep emotional connections,” in fact, the opposite is true.
                This just sounds crazy/stupid.

                5. Taking breaks maintains the timeline of the TV universe.

                There are many exceptions to this rule, but TV series tend to place a few diegetic days between episodes and a few months between seasons. Thus, its rhythms match our own—when we watch them on their schedule. Watch an episode of Party Down a few days after finishing the last one, for instance, and notice how all the caterers have also had a few days off since their last gig. Or return to a new season of 30 Rock after a summer away, and see how the TGS writers are also returning from their vacation.
                Also stupid. My mind is advanced enough that I can appreciate that time has passed for characters without requiring that a similar amount of time have passed in my own life since the last episode.
                Ain't it like most people, I'm no different. We love to talk on things we don't know about.

                "The only one of us who is so significant that Jeff owes us something simply because he decided to grace us with his presence is falafel." -- All-American

                GIVE 'EM HELL, BRIGHAM!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I binged watched Lost and it definitely impacted my relationship with the characters. At the end of the series, I really didn't care about any of them at all. Part of that was because some of them were just kind of flimsy characters, and the other part is that I just didn't have enough time with them. I contrast that with Friday Night Lights, which I was watching week by week at the same time, and I was just so much more invested in those characters because it felt like I spent more time with them (even though based on sheer hours I spent a lot more time with some of the Lost characters). Week by week, season by season, I thought about those characters a lot and wondered and speculated what would happen to them. It sounds dumb to say you form a relationship with the characters on a TV show, but I think to a certain extent you do. And I think some of that is cutoff when you binge watch. At least that's been my experience.
                  So Russell...what do you love about music? To begin with, everything.

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                  • #10
                    The other thing I'd add is that sometimes character arcs feel less natural when you binge. There have been certain series that I've watched in real time, and the changes to the characters felt pretty natural over the period of time that had elapsed. Then I'd rewatch that same section of a show, and all of sudden it didn't seem as well realized as the time before. It's different to see a character change watching 2-3 hours of consecutive TV than it is over a three week period.
                    So Russell...what do you love about music? To begin with, everything.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MarkGrace View Post
                      I binged watched Lost and it definitely impacted my relationship with the characters. At the end of the series, I really didn't care about any of them at all. Part of that was because some of them were just kind of flimsy characters, and the other part is that I just didn't have enough time with them. I contrast that with Friday Night Lights, which I was watching week by week at the same time, and I was just so much more invested in those characters because it felt like I spent more time with them (even though based on sheer hours I spent a lot more time with some of the Lost characters). Week by week, season by season, I thought about those characters a lot and wondered and speculated what would happen to them. It sounds dumb to say you form a relationship with the characters on a TV show, but I think to a certain extent you do. And I think some of that is cutoff when you binge watch. At least that's been my experience.
                      I binge-watched both of those shows (with the exception of a season or two of Lost). I connected with the FNL characters on a much deeper level too. IMO, that was due to the characters themselves, and not the method of watching. For me anyway.
                      Ain't it like most people, I'm no different. We love to talk on things we don't know about.

                      "The only one of us who is so significant that Jeff owes us something simply because he decided to grace us with his presence is falafel." -- All-American

                      GIVE 'EM HELL, BRIGHAM!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by falafel View Post
                        I binge-watched both of those shows (with the exception of a season or two of Lost). I connected with the FNL characters on a much deeper level too. IMO, that was due to the characters themselves, and not the method of watching. For me anyway.
                        That's undoubtedly a part of it. The FNL characters were just more relatable and likable to me. But I do think there were other factors. The same friend turned me on to both shows, and he just had all this nostalgia for the characters because he had been on a six year journey with them. He had speculated about why there were there, where they were going, etc., for such a prolonged period that he just had a different relationship with them than I did because I watched six full seasons in two months or whatever. I didn't get on message boards to talk about characters, or read reviews about them, or whatever. My thoughts on them were limited to blasting through the next episode and just trying to churn it out. however, I did do all those things while watching FNL, and I definitely think it impacted how much I felt for those characters by the end.
                        So Russell...what do you love about music? To begin with, everything.

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                        • #13
                          Round one (Thur. and Fri.) of March Madness.

                          Does that count?
                          "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy; its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." - Winston Churchill


                          "I only know what I hear on the news." - Dear Leader

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by falafel View Post
                            I binge-watched both of those shows (with the exception of a season or two of Lost). I connected with the FNL characters on a much deeper level too. IMO, that was due to the characters themselves, and not the method of watching. For me anyway.
                            I binged on the first season or two of Lost. I was much more connected early on than in later seasons watching it over time. I think it was more a function of the quality of the writing/acting than the frequency of delivery. It just got worse and worse over time.
                            "I think it was King Benjamin who said 'you sorry ass shitbags who have no skills that the market values also have an obligation to have the attitude that if one day you do in fact win the PowerBall Lottery that you will then impart of your substance to those without.'"
                            - Goatnapper'96

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pelado View Post
                              I binged on the first season or two of Lost. I was much more connected early on than in later seasons watching it over time. I think it was more a function of the quality of the writing/acting than the frequency of delivery. It just got worse and worse over time.
                              I binge watched season 1, watched season 2 one or two episodes at a time, then binge-watched each subsequent season after it was complete. So kind of a hybrid in that I actually spent 6 years with the characters, but only for about 2 weeks out of the year. I would describe my connection with the LOST characters in the same way you have.
                              Ain't it like most people, I'm no different. We love to talk on things we don't know about.

                              "The only one of us who is so significant that Jeff owes us something simply because he decided to grace us with his presence is falafel." -- All-American

                              GIVE 'EM HELL, BRIGHAM!

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