TV

For The Sake Of Our Fraying Society, Please Start Releasing The Streaming Shows At A Normal Time

The problem, as I see it, is that television is kind of broken. It didn’t used to be broken. It was all very regimented and orderly and it kind of stunk, if we’re being honest about it. Shows were on certain channels at certain times and you had to be in front of your television with that channel on at that time and if you weren’t you just never got to see them. But then some people invented some technology and other people got some ideas and now shows are everywhere, all over the place, at your fingertips all day long, sometimes at a website where you can also order, like, coffee tables or soup. It’s weird. And broken. Just a mess.

But we are making progress, I think. We’re taking baby steps in the right direction. Some of the newer streaming services are moving away from the “dump a whole season of episodes at once” thing, which is good, as we’ve discussed, because that model just makes for a very siloed and isolating viewing experience. Television is more fun when you experience it with other people, whether that’s in-person or online, talking at the water cooler about a recent episode or reading borderline unhinged blogs filled with theories about what might happen next. It’s good that weekly episodes are making a comeback. I support it wholeheartedly.

But now, I’m going to need us all to take this one step further: We have to start releasing these episodes at a normal hour.

Here’s what happens right now: The streaming services that release one episode per week — your Disney and Apple Pluses, your HBO Maxes, etc. — drop them on their sites at midnight Pacific time, 3 a.m. Eastern time, usually on a Thursday into Friday. That’s fine for a fun comedy like a Hacks or a Ted Lasso, where you’ll probably just watch it over the weekend at your leisure and do not generally have to worry about avoiding spoilers. It’s another thing entirely when it’s some huge deal show that websites and excited social media users want to discuss in granular detail as soon as possible. Because now you are navigating a minefield.

You really only have two options, if you’re the type of person who enjoys those shows and the discussions that form around them.

OPTION ONE: You can wake up a full hour early in the morning and watch the show as the sun rises, with little crusties still in your eyes, just angry and groggy and miserable and waiting for the caffeine to get into your bloodstream, hoping that no one else in your house wakes up to distract you in the small window you have before work or class or other obligations kick in, at which point you could find yourself shouting things like “NOT NOW, BRENDAN, BABY YODA IS FLYING A SPACESHIP” at 6:45 a.m. on a Friday morning like a freaking lunatic.

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OPTION TWO: You can behave like a normal human and plan to watch the episode at a regular television-viewing time, after dinner or on a lazy weekend afternoon, and spend every second of your life between when you wake up that day and when you finally finish the episode bobbing and weaving to avoid having it spoiled for you by a tweet or an Instagram comment or Brendan, and if you let your guard down at any point you might find yourself shouting something like “DAMMIT, THE TWIST ABOUT BABY YODA FLYING THE SPACESHIP IS RUINED” inside a Panera at lunchtime like a freaking lunatic.

It’s not ideal. That’s what I’m getting at. Releasing an episode at a time of day when no reasonable person can be expected to watch it and then kicking off this kind of free-for-all is madness. It’s borderline supervillain behavior. Do we have bigger problems? Yes, sure, fine. Should we all try to chill out a bit, just in general? Also yes, as soon as possible. But does “pushing an already on-edge society over that edge through the seemingly innocent policy of releasing its favorite shows in a way that will leave people either sleep-deprived or hyper-vigilant or both throughout their Friday until they tear each other apart because PEOPLE LIKE BRENDAN DON’T RESPECT BOUNDARIES” sound like a slow-burning plan that the Joker would come up with to turn Gotham against itself? I mean…

I’m being dramatic here. I know I’m being dramatic. I’m doing it to make a point. But still, we don’t have to do it this way. We don’t have to release episodes in the middle of the night and spend our days with our hands over our eyes and ears in a futile attempt to make sure that the people who watched the show at the crack of dawn like maniacs or bloggers (not exclusive groups) don’t go and ruin it for the rest of us, even by accident. Things were definitely not perfect the old way, as discussed already, but there was at least some order and structure there. I don’t see why we can’t adopt the good parts of that (episodes premiering in the evening at a set time) and heave out the parts that stunk (not being able to watch them at any other time). It seems so simple.

And so, for the sake of our vulnerable and fried society, I simply ask that streaming services start releasing their individual episodes at a reasonable hour when a larger number of people can watch them right away. I know there’s no perfect solution. Some people work second shift or have plans or are members of popular rock bands that have concerts to perform when primetime television typically airs. But this will help a lot of people. Like me, and some of you, and even freaking Brendan, who will GET THIS ENTIRE HOAGIE WHIZZED AT HIS HEAD IF HE SAYS ONE MORE WORD ABOUT BABY YODA OR THE SPACESHIP, I SWEAR TO GOD.

I think 9 p.m. Eastern will work. Then we can all watch the shows at night and discuss them in the morning like civilized people. Thank you.

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