A Vice We Like: Binge Watching Television

GeekMom TV and Movies
what we're binge-watching, Victorian era relates to binge-watching,
Binge-watching means feast time. (Being Human image: BBC)

Binge on a series you missed, go ahead. It’s a satisfying indulgence that’s cheaper and easier than ever before. And we have recommendations.

Yet there’s something about the term “binge” that elicits an extreme reaction from some people. They seem to assume that streaming Game of Thrones night after night in order to catch up with an acclaimed series is as excessive as binge eating, binge shopping, or binge drinking. Or maybe it’s not the term, maybe they’re alarmed by the freedom viewers have to watch as much as they want when they want. And especially with the advent of Netflix and Hulu, as media consumers, we don’t have to wait another week or another season for new episodes and we don’t have to lay out bucks for a boxed set. That’s downright liberating.

But not to those who are sure binging ruins all that’s good about television. An article over at Slate shrieks that binge-watching is a “pandemic” among our nation’s “unprincipled youth” (the rest of us too) and likens the practice to gambling away all your money upon arrival in Vegas. The author is so hissy that I initially assumed he was trying to write satire, thus, kept waiting for his comments to get wittier. They didn’t.

That article is similar to one of the earliest pieces I could find about binge-watching, which ran a few years ago in Flow. It managed to skip the histrionics. Still, both authors make a point:  Binging changes the viewing experience and may alter the way future shows are made.

Yes, change happens. After all, in the nineteenth century many novels were published as serials. Eager readers had to wait until the next issue of a periodical to catch up on the latest installment. Perhaps we ruin the integrity of  serialized fiction by Charles Dickens, Herman Melville, and Harriet Beecher Stowe when we read it in (gasp) book form. Oh the dangers of change.

I suspect many of us binge-read a book series or find an author we like, then page our way through his or her entire oeuvre. Many of us binge-listen too, exploring all the works of a certain musician or genre. These methods immerse us in what we find fascinating. (I’ve noticed that deeply exploring any particular passion is the way my kids learn. Surprise, it’s the way our attention is more naturally oriented.)

Here’s the good stuff we’re gulping down as we choose.

  • Ariane Coffin recommends Sherlock. She loves “the witty banter, the actors, Sherlock’s wild outbursts. Genuinely a good quality show.”
  • Sarah Pinault enjoyed Pushing Up Daisies and what she called “the phenomena that is Downton Abbey.”
  • Patricia Vollmer’s family have started Doctor Who with the 2005 reboot version. She says, “It’s a creative, (relatively) family friendly show and watching it has been a great beat-the-heat activity with the kids. My youngest son (age 7 1/2) and I are the ones most enthusiastic about it.”
  • Cindy Ortiz says, “I feel like probably the only geek who wasn’t watching but I just discovered The Big Bang Theory a few months back!”
  • Kelly Knox is hoping to fit Arrested Development and Avatar: The Last Airbender into what’s left of her summer.
  • Melissa Wiley has been catching up on BBC period dramas like Garrow’s Law and Lark Rise, plus the first original Netflix series Lillyhammer.
  • Helene McLaughlin recommends Warehouse 13. She says, “I love how each story/artifact is based on real historical people and places. The artifacts that are found mix magic with science.”
  • Sophie Brown binged on Castle last year. She says, “this year I’ve been trying to get into How I Met Your Mother.”
  • Amy Kraft recommends The Wire, Breaking Bad, Lost, and Weeds.
  • Ruth Suehle just finished Eureka.
  • Mandy Horetski admitted she had never seen the new Battlestar Galactica. Binge now over.
  • Kay Moore says she likes to do marathons of on old shows that “the kids need to be exposed to for normal cultural development.” Their potential binge list includes Twilight Zone, Secret Agent, Original Star Trek, Monty Python, Little Rascals, Firefly + Serenity. Lately she’s been summertime-glomming a few series such as Mushishi and the Larry Sanders Show.
  • Marziah Karch is watching the BBC version of Being Human. She says, “The premise sounds cheesy, but the story (which is not safe for young viewers) is very well done. We’re all fighting temptation and demons and past actions in some way, aren’t we?”
  • Corrina Lawson says, “My eldest son (16) is binge-watching Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League & Justice League Unlimited, and Superman: The Animated series with his little sister (13). I call that geeky binge watching.”
  • Natania has to find shows her husband won’t want to watch while she’s at home with her little one. She’s so far binge-consumed Drop Dead Diva (meh) and The Vampire Diaries. A better suggestion includes her Community obsession as well as the new Sherlock BBC series.
  • I recently binged on Flash Forward, a wonderfully tangled drama that has to do with future visions and quantum entanglement. I’m hoping to get in a catch-up binge on Mad Men, then maybe get started on Boardwalk Empire.

None of us can keep up with all the great viewing opportunities when there’s so much to feast upon. Tell us, what have you binged on? What are you planning to binge-watch next?

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