As our society moves towards a new way of absorbing media, the average viewer is still learning to adjust to the idea of binge-watching. As it is now, binge watching can be a serious drain on productivity, it can destroy your social life, and it can lessen the experience of watching the show over time. Netflix even released a series of tongue-in-cheek advertisements with the slogan “Watch Responsibly.” It might be useful to hear some tips and tricks for how to watch a long show really fast. But before I get into that, let me first discuss some of the pros and cons of binge-watching.
The “full” experience:
Many diehard fans of certain TV shows will tell you that it’s not an authentic viewing experience if it isn’t watched all at once. Whether or not this is true, watching a show in a few days can certainly give you a great deal of fan swag within those communities
When you watch the entirety of a show at once, you start to pick up on the references they make to other episodes. You get to see for yourself exactly when jokes were first introduced and when they become running gags.
One of the reasons people binge-watch suspenseful shows like Breaking Bad is because everybody loves a good cliffhanger. We love to not know what’s about to happen next, especially when life and death stakes are involved. We do, however, hate waiting for the conclusion. One of the benefits of binge-watching a show is that any given cliffhanger only lasts until you hit “watch next episode.”
Time Passes Differently:
The world of a TV show is often designed to be shown week to week with time moving slowly to match the viewer’s life. When we binge-watch, we condense the amount of time we get to spend with each of the characters. Watching a character develop over the course of a few days is very different from watching their story unfold over several years.
Loss of Self-Control:
It’s obvious that binge-watching is unhealthy. The name literally equates it with absorbing so much media it makes you puke. While that may not be an accurate description, binge-watching certainly makes people more lazy, less sociable, more needy of instant gratification, and less productive in general. That doesn’t mean anyone is likely to stop, but at least we can be aware of it.
Maybe the worst part of watching a show in just a few days is that it is over too quickly. Like eating a bag of potato chips, finishing a TV show all at once just isn’t filling. We always crave one more episode, even though we know that no more exist. Perhaps it’s a testament to the power of fiction to keep us wanting more, but more likely it’s because we simply shoveled the media down our throats instead of chewing and dissecting it slowly.
And now we come to the meat of this article. Here I will discuss ways that you can improve your binge-watching experience. These are some of the tips and tricks I use to make sure to not abuse the privilege of watching an entire TV show in just a few days.
1. Where to watch
There are more opportunities to stream media than ever before, which makes choosing where to watch a show challenging. Netflix almost goes without saying, as it provides all the episodes of many shows, even with an automatic player so that you don’t have to click on the next episode. For Anime, there’s no better place than Crunchyroll, which provides viewers with legal access to high quality streams of dozens of anime, including simulcasts. For some nice alternatives, Hulu and Funimation represent similar services to the previous two respectively.
2. When to watch
Though I know self-control does not come naturally to the average binge-watcher, it is important that viewers choose times to watch their shows when they can really enjoy them. The all-night marathon is extremely tempting, but because you are tired and worrying about what might happen the next day, it will never truly be a satisfying experience. Instead, try to watch shows in the early evening when you can be relaxed but still awake enough to enjoy the program.
3. Don’t Watch Alone
Much like drinking alone, watching an entire TV show by yourself is not nearly as fun. Try to step out of your comfort zone and marathon a show with someone else who wants to watch. You will appreciate the show better because you can talk to the friend about it, and you will appreciate the friend better after having a shared experience together.
4. Don’t Procrastinate
Not to sound like a nagging parent, but you should never have work to do while watching a show. I don’t care that you get your work done, but your enjoyment of the show will be significantly reduced by the anxiety of having unfinished work. No one likes the feeling that you aren’t going to finish your work in time, frantically checking the clock to make sure there is time for one more episode.
5. Make the Show a Reward
If you have already ignored all of my previous advice and are watching a show illegally, alone, during the middle of the night before an assignment is due, there is still a way to salvage your experience. Set a goal for yourself to finish some portion of your work. It can either be a little or a lot depending on how dire it is that you finish. Then, when you complete that goal, you watch an episode, the episode will be that much more rewarding knowing that you’ve made progress in your work.
I hope these tips help to make your experience shotgunning every episode of Pokemon on Netflix more enjoyable. The habit of binge-watching TV shows is not going away, so we all have to try and find a way to make it fit into out daily lives without hurting us. Essentially, we have to do what Netflix says and watch responsibly.