Claremore Daily Progress

Community News Network

February 20, 2014

Why binge-watching old shows is more fun than binge-watching new ones

It's been four days, more than 100 hours, and I still haven't finished Season 2 of "House of Cards."

I've gotten past the big Episode 1 spoiler. And I've made it through a few more predictably "shocking" chapters. But I haven't finished. And it's not because I think binge-watching is bad - I don't buy any of those arguments. I've binged on many shows in the past year alone. "Six Feet Under" I completed in a month this summer. I devoured all three seasons of "Borgen" in the final weeks of 2013, and I relished every minute. I started watching TV in earnest in college, so if a show ran before 2006, chances are I binged on it while putting off a paper on Kant or possibly an assignment for Slate. "Veronica Mars"? Binged that during finals freshman year. then again in anticipation of the movie.

But Netflix has tarnished binge-watching's good name.

Much has been written about the joys of binge-watching. Slate's TV critic, Willa Paskin, described it as "the classy way of watching too much TV, the rebranding of a previously disdained activity that makes the sedentary life palatable to those people - say New York Review of Books readers! - who would once have foresworn it." Less than 24 hours before Season 2 of "House of Cards," Alex Soojung-Kim Pang wrote in Slate in praise of the practice, calling it "restorative," and highlighting how "it's a way [for people] to reclaim their time and attention in a rushing, distracting world." He goes on to explain that for many, it's a reward.

Binging on "Six Feet Under," "Borgen," "Veronica Mars" - those shows felt like rewards, little presents I got to open whenever I felt like it. They offered a way to relax, and yes, reclaim my time. After all, I was on my own time. I'm sure others were binging on "Borgen" at the same moment, but we were not trying to keep pace with each other - no one was dictating a time period for us to finish so we could then chat about it. The show had run its course, and people who came well before us wrote the think pieces that we could now happily devour. There was no race to finish because no one cared when we finished. No one cared when we started.

And then there's "House of Cards." In many ways I can't stop watching "House of Cards." But binge-watching "House of Cards" the weekend it comes out does not feel like a relaxing reward. It has nothing to do with reclaiming time and everything to do with time being dictated to you.

Sure, in theory, you can watch whenever you want. But if you're on Twitter, you're surrounded by people tweeting spoilers and bragging about finishing. Magazines and blogs publish pieces that will only make sense if you've "caught up." What was once the most enjoyable way to consume seasons of TV becomes a social obligation.

No one has explored this as well as "Portlandia" (also streaming on Netflix, if you want to binge). Think of the sketch in which a man and woman start watching "Battlestar Galactica" before going to a party, only to get sucked in so deep they abandon all sanity, calling in sick to work, forgetting to pay for electricity, chanting "next one, next one."* This sort of behavior is crazy - but it's a fun, personal sort of crazy. Now think of that other "Portlandia" sketch, in which friends sit down for coffee, but instead of discussing what they've read, they try to one-up each other by asking if the other has read as much as they have, until they're literally eating the pages of a magazine. The Netflix push to "watch it now" makes TV feel like a race, one that I have no interest in running.

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

  • E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say

    The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.

    April 14, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014