Binge Culture

On Friday, Season 2 of Daredevil was released on Netflix and if you’re anything like me, then you’d watched all 13 episodes within 24 hours (I watched them in 12). There was a time where statements like that would have been met with shock but streaming services like Netflix are making the binge a regular part of life.

There’s something about the word ‘binge’ that brings with it negative connotations that I don’t think ought to be there anymore. The word literally means: a period of excessive indulgence in an activity, and so the question becomes what counts as excessive?

If you have access to a 22-episode season, do you watch it in 3 months? 1 month? A week? A day? I honestly don’t what’s too short a time period anymore and I can’t seem to get a straight answer. Personally, I think that once you can feel your body getting gradually but steadily unhealthier then it’s time to get up, maybe open a window, drink a glass of water.

We all know what binge-watching is but why do we do it? The obvious answer is that the show in question is really good and you want to find out what happens next but that doesn’t explain why I watched all of Pretty Little Liars in a month – the more I watched it, the more I despised it but that didn’t stop me. Perhaps that’s just my own deep self-loathing but I know I’m not the only person who hate-watches shows.

I think that with Netflix series where an entire season is released at once, watching them all immediately and in one chunk is the best way to avoid spoilers. The release of Daredevil is a perfect example of this: the great unspoken rule of the internet is no spoilers but there are some people, excuse me – asshats, who gain real joy from ruining TV for other people. Sure you can avoid social media or block certain tags but the only 100% effective way of not getting spoiled is to watch it first.

Netflix certainly didn’t create binge culture but streaming services like it are probably the biggest reason for the rise in binge culture. You don’t have to change DVDs or even press a button, they’ll just play the next episode automatically: it is simultaneously the best and worst thing about these services.

Honestly, I feel like a lot of older people shake their heads at the idea of binge-watching and talk about things like time-wasting and doing something useful etc. but I disagree. If anything, we have more control than ever over when we want to watch something as opposed to following a TV guide.

What are you watching at the moment? Do you remember the first series you ever binged? What are your thoughts on binge culture? Let me know in the comments.

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