I was having a discussion the other day about my TV viewing habits, and it seems that the cool kids are calling how I do it “binge-watching”. It must be a thing because it has its own Wikipedia page. According to Wiki binge-watching is defined by most as “watching between 2-6 episodes of the same TV show in one sitting”. I’ve been doing this for years, so I find it funny that it’s supposed to be some sort of new thing because of “on demand” streaming services.
In days of yore when VCRs were the in thing I often recorded shows and then watched them in groups of two or three as my schedule allowed. In most cases you could only get six hour long shows on a tape so being careful that I didn’t miss anything I’d make sure I watched them after the fifth one. Most of those shows I recorded were on opposite of another show I was watching so it was easy to have only one program for each tape. So that, apparently, was the beginning of my binge-watching.
To me binge-watching should be way more than just watching a couple of episodes at a time. You get into the four or five neighborhood in one sitting and that’s really binge-watching. It looks like the cool kids set the bar low so they could be part of the group. After all, who wants to be on the outside looking in on something so trendy?
The first time I remember watching more than that four or five episodes at a time was years ago while The West Wing was on the air. I had missed the first few seasons and was catching reruns on Bravo. The problem was they weren’t showing them in order so I was missing a lot of stuff continuity-wise. After watching what was the first couple of episodes of season two (only I didn’t know at the time where they fit into the continuity) I was very confused because they using flashbacks and I had no idea if that was new material they were showing looking back or inserting old footage to remind viewers of what came before.
I mentioned this at work and long time friend Peter–who also worked with my father for years at Thom McAn–said he had the first season on DVD and would lend it to me. He brought it in on a Friday and I took it home to watch when I got the chance. An early morning thunderstorm woke me up on Saturday and when I couldn’t fall back to sleep I went out to the living room to watch a couple of episodes. I was so hooked I watched 12 that first day, stopping only because my wife and I had dinner plans that evening. On Sunday were the last 10 of the first season. The look on Peter’s face when I brought the DVD back and started talking about the episodes was incredible. I wish I’d taken a picture.
I eventually went out and bought all the season, and every other summer still watch them all. The 154 episodes in a handful of days is the absolute definition of binge-watching.
My wife and now regularly watch TV shows on our DVRs like this. There are a couple shows I watch as they air but for the most part I DVR everything (mostly so I can zap the commercials) and we watch them in groups of two or three. The last show I truly binge-watched was the first season of House of Cards, watching all 13 episodes over a two day period. I haven’t watched season two yet because my wife never saw season one and I think she’d like it. We’ll fix that soon.
Looking at it in a broader perspective watching TV shows in batches is also how I like to read books. When I start an older series I usually run through them non-stop until I hit the latest released book. I just seem to get more out of them doing it that way. I’ll bet good money I’m not the only one doing it that way.
Can “binge-reading” be far behind?