Why Binge?

Over the last year, I’ve watched Ozark, The Man in the Green Castle, Bosch, Dear White People, The Keepers–just to name a few. My viewing involves a modicum of guilt. I’m enjoying myself, but I occasionally find myself watching for the purpose of seeing a season through, rather than for the esthetic pleasure of seeing a great story unfold before my eyes, or for great cinematography, or unbelievable acting. I’ve become more adept at finding plot points that will carry over from one episode to the next.

But I worry that my viewing encourages bad behavior–not on my part, of course, but on the part of studios that no longer feel the need to make taut, well-crafted stories. I haven’t seen a series (or an “original,” as they’re being called now) that wouldn’t make for a better movie. Why spend 12 hours watching something that should be boiled down to 90 minutes? What am I getting from spending the additional time? I’d like to say that the depth of characterization has improved, but I don’t think that’s the case. Is the the future of entertainment?

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28 Responses to Why Binge?

  1. Annanesya James says:

    After some research, I’ve discovered that a reason humans enjoy watch television so much is because we are able to recognize emotions that others are feeling, and sympathize with them. A phenomenon identified in 1909 called-dramatic pause- empathy. As for “spending 12 hours watching something that can be boiled down to 90 minutes”, you’re getting more time to build connection with characters involved in the showing. This is why you feel the saudade of an ending show. What’s the cure, you ask? Why another show of course. The profit made from this vicious cycle is the very substance that is needed to fuel it. Another explanation for why these hidden traps are not made as movies as opposed to television shows is because shows cost significantly less than moves. In other words more money for the guy at the top!

  2. Richie Andersen says:

    The appeal to watching shows over movies has to do with what we as consumers prefer. I personally prefer to watch shows and series because they can take their time to build up strong background and to unfold an interesting story and surprising plot twists. Shows also appeal to readers because they would rather see a novel acted through many hours and episodes rather than limited to an hour or two. There is also the image of the ideal “lazy day”. Individuals would rather rest on the couch with some pringles and spend the whole day watching a show than spend just spend an hour and then do something useful. As well as just watching shows because its more appealing, shows and “originals” are trending, such as “13 Reasons Why” or “Stranger Things”. It would sometimes feel required of someone to binge a show just to be able to relate with the public. Series are the future of television entertainment, whether people genuinely enjoy them or not, we will find that people will be pressured to watch anyways.

  3. Sabrina Solomon says:

    I think that series are very much the future of entertainment. It’s much harder to stop in the middle of a movie than stop between shows. Actors have longer contracts, giving the actors more time to go in depth with their character. TV show producers, such as Grey’s Anatomy producer Shonda Rhimes, start with table readings, giving the actors the chance to read the script aloud with the rest of cast before being on set. Sometimes, however, tv shows can last for too long. Movies get straight to the point and only a few movies have follow-ups. More times than not, the first movie is always better. Well produced movies and tv shows are rare these days, but the future of entertainment will for sure lean towards tv shows. Total box office sales have slowly decreased since 1980. And more and more ways to watch anything and most everything are becoming popular.

  4. Lori Feng says:

    TV shows generally draw out a plot, which allows viewers to become more attached to the characters. A movie is only around two hours, and this shorter amount of time makes it less likely for a viewer to become as heavily invested in the characters than in a TV show. The additional screen time that is spent on binge-watching show can be beneficial because it allows an individual to continue watching well-liked characters for a longer amount of time. Many binge-watchers are disappointed after they watch an entire season, and need to wait another year before a new season comes out. Movies have an even shorter run time, exacerbating binge-watchers’ disappointment and impatience for a new season.

    Over time, more aspects of society are becoming commercialized even further. The TV industry’s main goal is to maximize profits, and to do so might require reducing the quality of production. However, as this trend continues, people will likely begin to value more original and higher quality TV shows. For example, since the Industrial Revolution, many goods have been produced on a massive scale, but the value of hand-crafted goods have increased because of the time, effort, and individuality of handmade products. Thus, while TV shows are not considered as well crafted or unique now, the trend will encourage producers to create more original plot-lines and characters.

  5. August Andre says:

    Binging shows allow more opportunities for the creators and the viewers, and this is why they are so prevelant today. With longer times, producers can create longer sequences of suspense and add more detail to specific scenes that would be otherwise cut in a shorter movie version. Having a story told in episodes also creates a more interactive audience and community. As new episodes are released, friends can get together debate the show and watch without the commitment of the next two hours. They can instead watch as slowly or as quickly as they want.

  6. Madison Wypyski says:

    Personally, unless the plot of a television-show changes with every episode (ex: Bull, NCIS, House M.D.), I am probably not watching it. I get bored easily, and have a nasty habit of guessing a “plot twist” before it occurs resulting in a very boring viewing experience for myself and those who happen to be there when I announce the spoiler. Because of this, I have a difficult time binge-watching and do not particularly enjoy it, probably making me a production studio’s worst nightmare. People are not necessarily binge-watching because they are drawn into a titillating plotline, but because they need something to fill the time. In this modern age, we have difficulty not constantly being entertained by something, and therefore, binge-watching is the perfect answer. I think there is in fact a draw to “trash TV”, for lack of better terms, because the lower detail plotline takes less energy to follow along with making it the perfect pastime for those who are looking for a minimal effort activity. This is most definitely the new trend that TV and entertainment are taking. A perfect example is the new Star Trek: Discovery which will air an episode regularly, but then post the remainder of the episodes on CBS’s own version of Netflix or Hulu. This is basically setting the series up to be binge-watched, and I will not be surprised if a larger number of shows follow in this trend.

  7. Taylor Shamblin says:

    Binging is a new fad. It is a form of “filling in the gaps.” People now have a surplus of time on their hands. Because the time surplus is so prevalent in much of the world, this time is spent on many things believed to be meaningless and lethargic. Binging television falls into both of these categories. It exploded with support as many more shows were produced with the backing of multi-million dollar companies, like “Netflix”,”Sony”, “HBO”, and “Hulu.” This backing allows for more and more shows to be pumped out. These new shows being produced lack many of the adored characteristics of the “shows-of-the-past,” but they have many of the basic desires people look for in a show. They contain a basic plot and characters that are either super-realistic or relatable to many of the viewers targeted by the genre of the show. Because these new shows have a plethora of funding, they continue to be made as long as the ratings stay high.

  8. Morgan Emokpae says:

    Binge watching T.V. shows has become a part of our culture; there is no denying this. However, upon an examination of this phenomenon, one may ask “why binge?” The answer to this question is quite simple: because you want to. Watch because you have somehow developed a relationship that, through some immense act of psychic prestidigitation transcends the bonds of space connecting your emotions and thought to that of a fictional character/s. Watch because when Allison Argent (from Teen Wolf but how ever your favorite character is) dies your body gets cold shivers, you cannot help but cry; it feels like you have lost a friend. The act of bingeing while lacking in psychical activity can include some mental activity. Moreover, in watching T.V., many of the literary techniques to analyze a novel can be applied. Because the shows are expanded over a long period of time, the writers can throw-in more unexpected plot twist that challenge the viewer to think critically and hypothesize compared to films. from the prevalence of bingeing, one may ask is this the future of entertainment. I would like to submit that the future is uncertain; 100 years ago, the idea of a television was essentially un-thought of. whether binge watching is the future is unimportant; the present is what matters now.

  9. Samantha Anderson says:

    Binging on a tv show, in my opinion, like most things human’s due these days, is done out of boredom. Personally, if I could find something exhilarating to do with my time, Youtube and Netflix would become more neglected. Even now, my overwhelming amount of work and extracurriculars have caused me to enjoy less and less of the videos I watched before. However, actual entertainment and enjoyment of shows is another reason I still watch the things I enjoy. Although I will admit I have continued to watch shows that ruin the plots by adding random drama every episode simply because of the fact that I feel I have invested s much time into them. Examples of these include prrimetime programs like Scandal and Once Upon a Time. These shows have ultimately become just something to watch instead of a show worth watching, but I no longer necessarily binge on these though. If I do binge, I make sure they are binge-worthy shows with reasonable and intriguing plots that are well executed, and there are still shows like this. If people decide to engage themselves sparingly into things worth engagement, television production can continue to rise in quality.

  10. Jacob Lee says:

    First of all, while similar, TV shows and movies are different is several ways such as the approach to the story by the viewer and the writer, the viewers personal connection with the characters and story, and so much more. Look at Ozark, I suppose it is possible to compress it down in to a movie, but so much would be lost. The little instances that allow the view to connect with the character would significantly decrease and the viewer’s attachment and ability to relate to the characters would dissipate quite a bit. This is not to say that every story requires an extended series to have these qualities; there are movies that have similar characteristics as those I mentioned in Ozark, but it is ultimately dependent on the story being presented. Neither of these have an edge on one another in the future of entertainment, both have their place in the industry and both will continue to have their place in the industry.

  11. Indu Nandula says:

    From spending additional time in front of a monitor binge watching a TV series, the viewer experiences absolutely no personal gain whatever, except for the contentment of sitting lazily on a couch. However, gains are made elsewhere. The show itself and the provider end up actually making something. More screen time equals more money for televisers, but in the end, it’s the viewer who ends up turning into a couch squash. This most likely is the future of entertainment due to the fact that viewing services have now found a way to garner more customers, and thus more people watching something on a screen for longer margins of time. By splitting a storyline into longer time periods, the viewer is left at a “cliff-hanger,” and becomes thirsty for more pointless bull that essentially ends up leading away from the central part of the story. Take my mother, for example. She began watching Turkish soap operas over the summer so she could work and have some white-noise simultaneously. Now, she is addicted. The plot twists and turns every episode, extending the actual plot into a maze. And with every episode, a respective cliff-hanger follows. That said, I am in no way calling my mother a couch squash, but this shows you just how expanded TV showings can affect people, even those who work the hardest. Not only are you wasting time, you are losing it. Instead of enjoying the little things in their own likfe, the viewer ends up finding pleasure in witnessing another peron’s life through a piece of glass powered by wires.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Personally, I categorize myself as a professional binger, tv shows and netflix series are so addicting. I binge, because it’s fun. It’s something to do when there is nothing to do. I find comfort through the lives of characters on the screen. I feel as if I’m evolved in another world, I place myself inside the shows and series and become something new. I get more thrill watching the stories unfold over seasons. It builds up the tension and leaves you always wanting more, but with a film you’re getting it all bundled together in 90 minutes. It could also lead to the film being so pushed together, it may seem like bad quality or the ending could be absolutely terrible compared to the rest of the film. Binging is the new way.

  13. Arin Kelly says:

    From a viewer’s stand point, television shows do tend to drag out their plot much more than necessary, but one of the joys of a television show is you develop a connection with the characters and story line. With a television series, you feel like it is more realistic because you are following along a long period of time.
    From a financial stand point, it builds anticipation and suspense, which will cause people to watch more, which will make more money.
    I do feel this is the future of television and sometimes it makes the show terrible, and occasionally it can result in a fantastic show.

  14. Alexz Carpenter says:

    I definitely believe that this is the future of entertainment. I believe that this is not good for humans to watch hours upon hours of a show that provides no education or value to them. I do understand, however, why TV shows are so alluring to people rather than watching a 90 minute movie. First, people can get lost and escape reality for very long periods of time. They do not have to think about anything else but the story of that show, so it is a diversion from real life and its challenges. TV series are not always quality throughout, but in a way it becomes an obsession until you finally finish it, such as never knowing the ending to a book. I do not think that the movie industry is going to fall because of this, I just think that there will be many more TV series put in production compared to the past. There are pros and cons to series and movies. Movies are a way for people to get out of the house and do something, while TV series you can stay at home and snuggle up on the couch. Depending on your mood, you might want to do one or the other. Movies also usually have a much bigger budget and are allowed to have better graphics, setting, etc. than a show that has just started out and has so many more hours to film for. If a movie or a series is a remake of a book I definitely think that the TV series would always do much better because they would be able to add every detail and not have such a limited time to tell what happened. I think there are definitely pros and cons to movies vs. series, but I think TV series will become a much bigger industry in the future. Personally, I do not think there is one that is better than the other, but both of them for sure are not the best way for humans to spend their time.

  15. Kiera Monroe says:

    It’s tit for tat with me. Sometimes I prefer series over movies, but sometimes it depends on the quality . There are some movies that I felt that should DEFIENTLY have more subparts to it and an extensive plot line because it was just that GOOD, yet series do have an effect of downgrading the quality of something that could’ve been a potentially incredible movie. Although I do see why you would prefer 90 minutes versus 12 hours that extend into weeks. Sometimes I run out of time for series and miss certain parts that leave me confused in the end because that was a piece of the plot. Movies can consume some time too, especially ones like Titanic. Since being here, though, I do like movies more than series, but cartoons are ALWAYS number one!

  16. Tyra L. says:

    Some movies, with the jaw dropping endings that leave questionable thoughts, would make a great series, but is it worth it to elongate a movie that would be better off in 90 minutes? The making of series that originate from movies may be pointless considering the fact that consistent plots ruin the originality. One example that I’ve witnessed would be Shadow Hunters. Considerably, the movie was great. Upon finding out about the upcoming series, I was very happy until after 3 episodes. With the build up of plots, I could not keep up with the storyline. I personally prefer TV shows. If I had the time to watch my favorite series for 24 hours, I would. My enjoyment comes from the characters that I’ve gained a certain interest for. On one show I grew attached to, One Tree Hill, my favorite character disappeared for the entire last season. My interest level instantly dropped. If One Tree Hill was originally a movie, I would have been very heartbroken.

  17. Erin Davis says:

    Personally, before I came to MSMS I preferred TV shows/ series all day over movies because I had the time to get invested into the actually series and I enjoyed following the life or story of each character. But now at MSMS I don’t have the time to do any of that so I will probably watch more movies than series just because I would only have to commit 90 minutes and the story will be done, but with a show if I watch 90 minutes of it I will want to watch more. So, watching series vs. movies all depends on how much time a person has and their personal opinion. If I had to choose though I would prefer a series because a show like the office is an amazing series and a movie just wouldn’t do it justice just because you follow the life of each character and develops over the hours of episodes watched. Also watching a series save the time of figuring out what movie to watch that night if you are already in the middle of it you can just continue. But whether it could make a better movie or series kind of depends on the content. Movie series that have 3 or more probably should have been TV type series just so each movie could have had more content rather than cramming it into 90 minutes they could have added more detail and made it a series because 3 movies can about makes a season especially if things were added.

  18. Khytavia Fleming says:

    I, for one, love to binge watch TV series. Yes, for some series it has gotten to the point where I watch episodes back to back just to see what happens next, but there are a select few that I watch for the joy of it because they stand out to me. Why would you want something condensed into 90 minutes if it could be expanded into numerous hours that show every detail of the show. Yes, it takes a lot of time out of ones day to binge watch a TV series, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. As my mother would say, “Stop rushing and take your time “, and I think that’s just what the writers of these innumerous TV series are doing. Besides I would have a heart attack and die if Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, Being Mary Jane, Super Girl, The Flash, Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D, Young and Hungry, etc were condensed down to 90 minutes. Plus, when you binge watch a TV series, you don’t have to worry about finding another show to watch 90 minutes later.

  19. Jackie Ward says:

    Originals ,as they are now called, are sometimes today taken for granted by the studios. They just throw them together in an effort to keep people watching the mindless gull that they’ve been perpetuating to us for so long. They think they can make another quick buck off a movie so they take a good series, Death Note, for instance, and turn it into a completely trash movie that does no justice to the original work. If this voice is not heard then yes, this is the future of television and entertainment. This is not a future I want to see.

  20. Michelle L says:

    Sitcoms, crime dramas, and reality shows might be highly popular, but Netflix Originals, often considered high quality and unique, seem to be affronting that trend of brainless popular television. Netflix Originals and the like are not superseding movies, but are a just a newer method for profit. Shows take an ample budget and time investment from the producers, but have a high profit if the show takes off. With a loyal, established, and engaged viewer base, Netflix has a big advantage for its Originals that have been branded for presumed quality. Netflix is unique in releasing a whole season of a new show all at once. This allows for binge-watching, which is good for the viewer who becomes engaged in their shows and generating media buzz, but it offers no advantage to those with no interest. I have never watched a Netflix Original show and have no interest nor time to do so. But I know if I wish to, I can watch as many as I like and get hooked on the next addictive show they release.
    If a twelve hour show would be better off compressed into 90-minutes, then watching the whole twelve hours is a convenient way to waste time. Not all television shows would make good movies however. I would not make Breaking Bad into a movie. Character development and story building in the show is well distributed and paced despite its five season long run. Compressing the show into a movie would reduce its quality, unless its scope were narrowed. Both movies and television have their niches, constraints, and rules in storytelling. Both are becoming more geared toward maximizing return on investment, sometimes at the cost of storytelling quality. If an exciting, yet familiar and trite premise with mediocre execution still gets people watching, then executives will make more, min-maxing for profit. Viewership is the most important factor in the life of a television show. Freaks and Geeks was canceled after one season, but it was arguably not a poor quality show. Well-crafted stories will never go away, even if executives are not leaping for new, untested ideas. Maybe we’ll see a rise in small-time filmmakers making well-crafted stories despite their constraints.

  21. Loveish Sarolia says:

    The reasoning behind the over 12 hours of footage being partially posted over the course of months rather than two 90 minute shows being posted in a week is the factor of a “cliff-hanger.” This effect is known in the Psychology world as The Zeigarnik Effect. In Zeigarnik’s experiment he noticed waiters only remembered orders that were not fully created after they received the rest of the order, the orders evaporated from their minds. After sixty years, a researcher named Kenneth McGraw carried out a test in which participants were asked to complete a puzzle but in the middle of the puzzle the participants were told the experiment was over. Even though the experiment was over 90% of the participants continued to complete the puzzles. Charles Dickens also used the same type of effect when he initially released books. He created such a demand for his books through the cliffhangers that people would wait at docks for the new releases of the series. This technique is commonly used by companies hoping to receive more viewership in turn receiving an influx of cash. The point of posting shows in longer sessions is to provide the creators of the show with popularity and creating a demand for new seasons of a series.

    Source:
    http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/02/the-zeigarnik-effect.php

  22. The old TV shows were better. You use to get a lesson out of it. Now, you just get a thriller that lifts everybody off their seats. Part of that is true because of the perception of the viewers. As people become more easier to enthrall, there is not much needed to throw at them for eye-candy.

    Old shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air show the progression of Will Smith from a street boy to a well-behaved young man. While he had his up and downs throughout the show, he still progressed to this stage. TV shows nowadays just give you something to look at and nothing more. That is why I miss the old shows; they gave you something to watch, learn, and model yourself after

  23. Tija J. says:

    Some shows are better as movies while some aren’t. For example, Law and Order: SVU could not be made into a single movie. There are too many different scenarios to be made into a movie hence a series. Episodes like these are about 45 minutes each. Some episodes are independent while other episodes feed off each other. In the “feeding episodes,” it still isn’t enough to be made into a movie. The entire purpose is to leave the audience wanting more. By ending a episode on a climax, it allows writers to continue the series. ABC Family’s “The Fosters” is another series that would not make a good movie. The complex characters and possibilities make a juicy timeline that leaves the audience wanting more. Some shows are completely crap so they could be made into a movie. I do feel that writers are going to continue to try to prolong shows by making them a series instead of a movie.

  24. Kaelon McNeece says:

    There are a multitude of reasons for media executives to create 12+ hours of episodic content instead of a condensed film. Firstly, having many short-length episodes allows viewers to become much more attached to characters within the series which then strengthens the desire in the audience to keep watching. While the plot may dullen, the audience becomes invested with the characters and the overall atmosphere of the show to the point that they become “hooked” on the show. Media executives take advantage of this and start to produce shorter, more plentiful episodes of content that don’t take nearly as long to produce as a full-length film. The pursuit of maximum profit drives the course of modern media; if the production of multiple 30/45-minute episodes is more profitable while also being faster to produce when compared to modern cinema, it will become the more popular form of video entertainment.

  25. Thu-Hash-Slangin-Poodler says:

    Is this the future of entertainment? Yes. Making movies is a market, and if cranking out vacuous slop can more effectively satisfy that market than well crafted masterpieces, then vacuous slop is what will be marketed. A more profound question might be “Is there a solution?”. Yes, actually, there is an answer. We just need to find new things to do with our time. If the trend drifts from consuming any material set down on a reel to only making time for genuinely good pieces, then the market will be more inclined to produce genuinely good pieces,

  26. Reagan Conner says:

    The idea of a “Netflix Binge” has become many people’s idea of heaven. TV shows occupy people for longer periods of time than movies do. In addition, TV shows develop a more loyal audience than movies do. Some people make parties out of watching TV shows on a weekly basis with their friends. For example, I know of many people who get together to watch the Bachelor/Bachelorette or Game of Thrones. Movies are more of a quick fix for entertainment and they prevent people from spending hours in front of the TV. People tend to get more invested in TV series though. They fall in love with the characters and are enticed by the cliff-hangers at the end of each episode. They feel more personal in a way because they aren’t as formal as a Hollywood production.

  27. Lane Hughes says:

    Humans have become more easily entertained. Case in point, we’ve been slowly but surely increasing our 1 and a half hour movies to to 24 hour+ seasons of just pure crap. Sure, it starts off well to hook viewers, but beyond the first few episodes of a season, the plotline slowly begins to degenerate until it turns into something completely different from what you originally started. If television continues in this fashion, then we’ll eventually all turn into the dazed citizens of the Bradbury novel “Fahrenheit 451,” and we all know how that book turned out. Simply put, television is turning our minds into mush, and going back to normal movies, or shying away from TV in general will help alleviate this problem.

  28. Kendra Bradley says:

    I believe that there are different purposes for films versus series. In a film, there is more artistry involved. Since there is only 90 minutes in a movie, the directors are forced to create a masterpiece in the first sitting rather than shooting in the dark and creating 12 hours of progressively better plot. In my opinion, TV shows almost always work best without a running story line, such as shows like House and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Shows that try to keep multiple plots and create the 12-24 hours of content exactly, such as True Detective, would be much better quality as a movie. A prominent downfall of TV shows is the re-using of plots and continuing on past their obvious expiration date, like Supernatural. There are certain shows, such as American Horror Story, that would be wonderful movies compared to their series, but there are already many horror movie chains that American Horror Story can pull it off. If TV shows were held to the same expectations as movies, I think movies such as Harry Potter and Hunger Games would be better served as TV shows to flesh out the characters better and involve the viewer more. Movies are best as short periods of time with one main plot and few main characters. Logan Lucky is a good example of this. If directors didn’t try so hard to create masterpiece plots with several twists and turns, I think TV shows would be much better.

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