Binging shows versus watching it weekly. It is an age-old conundrum that I have never been able to resolve. Many people I know do not like watching shows on a weekly basis. The wait is too painful and most of the episodes do not reveal any radical turn in the story. The story meanders slowly, building suspense and anticipation for a big fallout later in the season. In such a case following such a show over a six/seven-week period can be painful. Nevertheless, I can’t firmly identify with the binge-watching group.
Binge watching a show is like rushing a story. We finish an episode and immediately move to the next episode. We get hooked to the story and want to reach the big reveal as soon as possible. Every episode has small nuances and subtle hints about the world and its characters. In the rush to reach the big finale we miss these small important scenes.
When we watch seven or eight episodes in a single sitting, we also forget the content of those episodes. We only remember the overarching storyline. I feel that binge watching more than 4-5 hours can result in information overload. In the rush to reach the end we do not savour every scene.
Yet following a show weekly can be so much less satisfying than binging it. If we watch a disappointing episode, we will have to wait a week for the next one. If this episode is just building up to something bigger it only increases our feeling of restlessness. Most of the times, when I watch a show weekly my opinion about the show is a lot more negative than my opinion if I were to binge it.
After binging a show, the high remains with me for a day or so. Over the subsequent weeks I may re-watch the episodes and I slowly see a lot of moments that I missed. Moments that I did not savour enough. Moments that I missed in the rush to complete the season. There have been shows that I disliked when I binged them but saw them in a different light after talking with friends, reading analysis and re-watching them from a different frame of mind. Months after the show has ended there are new scenes that I greatly appreciate as works of art because I see them differently.
When I watch a show weekly, I often re-watch the episode released that week to ensure that I did not miss any hint or detail. That agonizing wait forces me to dissect the current episode as deeply as possible. There has been one season where I looked for the future episode spoilers and that is something that only ruined the rest of the season for me. Yet that agonizing wait inevitably makes me rate the show more poorly that I usually would have. Then there are shows that I follow weekly that die slow painful deaths (ex: Game of Thrones season 8). I have to watch every episode under the cloud of slowly creeping darkness as I watch the show kill itself and all the ideas it stands for. In such a case I would much rather binge the show and see a sword cleanly take off the victims head rather than stretch out it’s agony.
I would love to binge a show but a show that I watch weekly feels more real and deep. It’s a real conundrum.