Binge-watching is killing us and/or making us smarter and/or making us depressed and/or is totally normal and nothing to worry about, depending on which group of scientists and researchers you choose to believe. It is also changing the way we consume television. After decades of being faced with watching a show live or praying for a rerun months later, and another decade where you had the option of buying shows on DVD season-by-season for like $30-40 a pop, we now have thousands of episodes of hundreds of shows available every minute of every day. It’s not just old shows, either. Streaming outlets like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are now in the original content business, and making those shows all available at once, too. It’s really quite a lot.
And so, with all that in mind, two of our resident television experts, Josh Kurp and Danger Guerrero, attempted to wrap their heads around all things binge-watching in another edition of the Uproxx Chat Room.
Josh Kurp: It’s been a banner year for original Netflix programming. Season two of BoJack Horseman. Season one of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp and Master of None and, most recently, W/ Bob & David. And those are just the comedies. But outside of the weekends they premiered, it seems like the only time they came up in conversation was in reference to silly controversies. Think about that: We essentially have four new episodes of Mr. Show in our lives, but because of the Netflix model, every discussion about the show begins with, “How far along are you?” This is both the best and worst.
Danger Guerrero: Agreed. There’s two things going on here. The first thing is awesome, because Netflix is just like “Here you go! Go nuts!” and then you get to decide when and how much of the show you want to watch. It’s freeing and liberating because you can just mainline a show you like over a slow weekend, without having to wait the seven days between episodes that developed as the standard one million years ago before technology made mass gluttony possible. It’s maybe not great if you have zero self control and spend 10 hours on a beautiful Saturday in May watching Bloodline in your dark bedroom, but hey, your life!
The second thing, however, is less awesome. One of the things that makes shows like Game of Thrones so much fun is the conversation that develops in that week between episodes, and over the course of the season. The theories, the lunatic ideas, the recaps, the precaps, etc. With everyone watching on their own schedule, that goes away. The end result is that the Netflix original series become more of an individual experience than a community one.
JK: It’s disappointing how few quotes have caught on. That’s part of the fun of watching comedies, guessing which lines you’ll be repeating for the next month until some guy in marketing starts saying it, too, then you’ll never mention it again. The Borat Effect, as it were. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, in particular, should be the year’s most GIF’d sitcom, but outside of “Peeno Noir,” nothing really caught on. What would you say is your favorite moment from any Netflix series to come out this year that failed to become the next “tread lightly?”