We have entered the era of one episode never being enough. We live in a time where we can never be satisfied with not knowing what happens next, but how has this constant yearning for knowledge developed into such an extreme case of binge-watching? Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services have let us into the world of nonstop television. We can watch when we want, how we want and what we want. But what is it about these TV shows that make us watch entire seasons in one sitting?
The easy accessibility of just picking up your laptop, phone, tablet or watch has increased our constant desire for content, now. I always wanted to figure out the answer to things immediately, partially because I’m curious and partially because of the generation I’m a part of. The constant access to search engines has bred an era of “the now,” which seems to have translated into the same concept for TV shows. Just pick up a device of your choice and start watching wherever you are. Not only is it immediate, but it’s also satisfying.
The need for everything to be instantaneous does not end with starting a show. It continues into watching the entire show. I have yet to meet a person with enough self-control to stop a show on Netflix after one episode. So why do we do this? Is it our thirst for knowledge, our investment in these shows or are we just too lazy to keep up with a show on a regular basis? After speaking with my sister, I found out that she binge-watches because she feels like she’s part of the show. For her, binge-watching means being a part of something, and if you stop watching it’s like breaking that connection.
Along these lines, another one of my friends said that he wants to complete the story line. For me, I only have infrequent bursts of free time, which means that the convenience of watching as much as possible on a particular work-free Sunday may be my only option. However, I also hold the belief that I love binge-watching because it makes me feel closer to the story. Binge-watching comes from the need to be satisfied with the amount you have watched and how passionately you feel toward the show.
Binge-watching seems to be woven into the fabric of our generation, but my mom has also become a part of this trend. For her, staying up until 3:00 a.m. comes from her homesickness. She watches Turkish TV shows in binges because it makes her feel closer to her home country of Turkey. Perhaps binge-watching also has an emotional aspect to it as well. When I watch “House,” I keep watching because it reminds me of my childhood. When I was young, I wanted to be a doctor and I watched “House” quite frequently with my family. Restarting the show made me feel connected to my childhood dreams and the fondness I felt for all of the characters on the show. While my dreams have shifted, it’s always nice to be reminded of your past. Sometimes these waves of nostalgia need to go a little past one episode.
Binge-watching may not be the healthiest thing. After all, you’re stationary for an extended period of time watching a screen, but sometimes it’s necessary. Binge-watching seems to be a satisfying and emotional time for almost everybody I spoke to, but it’s important to remember that a little goes a long way. Netflix is great, but not when used in excess. By definition, binge-watching means indulging yourself, but perhaps if we do this less frequently, we can be more productive and still look forward to the occasional binge.