Recently, The New York Times ran an article about the phenomenon of "marathoning" or "binge-watching" television. And while the article initially starts out talking about House of Cards, the first series created specifically for Netflix, I found the later part to be the most fascinating…
In the article, the author discusses how access to DVD box sets and Netflix subscriptions has changed how we watch television series, and that when no longer captive to network programming, many viewers choose to watch hit series in large chunks, rather than in weekly installments. Which raises the question, how does marathoning change your experience of a series?
Personally, I've always been a fan of series entertainment. Growing up, it was Nancy Drew books. As a teenager, it was soap operas. And as an adult, it's been high-quality television series. For me, binge-watching started as a way to catch up on series I originally missed. Intially, it was The Office. This was followed by Mad Men, watching the first season on Netflix and finishing just in time to start the second season live. Soon this behavior became serial in its own right, and I began plowing through Parenthood, How I Met Your Mother (never could have predicted how addictive that one would become!), The Hour, Downton Abbey and most recently, Homeland. And somewhere along the line, marathoning viewing became less about playing catch-up, and more about enjoying the immersive quality of intense, concentrated viewing. I was, in a word, hooked.
Yet, until House of Cards, none of these series were designed to be watched this way. Instead, they were intended to be watched one at a time, week to week. Which brings me back to my original question — how does viewing episode after episode in tight succession change your experience of a series? Does it make a series more addictive? Do you become more aware of its flaws? Do you recognize themes and intricacies that you might have otherwise missed?
And what about repeat viewing? What happens when you revisit a beloved series, but now in marathon form? Does your experience of it change? Or does binge-viewing merely solidify your initial enjoyment? (Due to the show's long hiatus, I'm about to test this myself with Vulture's guide to Mad Men.)
What do you think? Are you a marathon viewer? And if so, why? What do you watch? And why do you like watching it this way?
Read More: The New York Times
via A Cup of Jo
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(Images: A. Olly Moss via Heckadude+Design, B. Kelsey Garrity-Riley Illustration, C. Mattson Creative, D. Matt Needle via VH1.com)