The Edmond Sun

Arts & Entertainment

February 21, 2014

OPINION: Why binge-watching old shows is more fun than binge-watching new ones

It's been four days, more than 100 hours, and I still haven't finished Season 2 of "House of Cards."

I've gotten past the big Episode 1 spoiler. And I've made it through a few more predictably "shocking" chapters. But I haven't finished. And it's not because I think binge-watching is bad — I don't buy any of those arguments. I've binged on many shows in the past year alone. "Six Feet Under" I completed in a month this summer. I devoured all three seasons of "Borgen" in the final weeks of 2013, and I relished every minute. I started watching TV in earnest in college, so if a show ran before 2006, chances are I binged on it while putting off a paper on Kant or possibly an assignment for Slate. "Veronica Mars"? Binged that during finals freshman year. then again in anticipation of the movie.

But Netflix has tarnished binge-watching's good name.

Much has been written about the joys of binge-watching. Slate's TV critic, Willa Paskin, described it as "the classy way of watching too much TV, the rebranding of a previously disdained activity that makes the sedentary life palatable to those people — say New York Review of Books readers! - who would once have foresworn it." Less than 24 hours before Season 2 of "House of Cards," Alex Soojung-Kim Pang wrote in Slate in praise of the practice, calling it "restorative," and highlighting how "it's a way [for people] to reclaim their time and attention in a rushing, distracting world." He goes on to explain that for many, it's a reward.

Binging on "Six Feet Under," "Borgen," "Veronica Mars" — those shows felt like rewards, little presents I got to open whenever I felt like it. They offered a way to relax, and yes, reclaim my time. After all, I was on my own time. I'm sure others were binging on "Borgen" at the same moment, but we were not trying to keep pace with each other — no one was dictating a time period for us to finish so we could then chat about it. The show had run its course, and people who came well before us wrote the think pieces that we could now happily devour. There was no race to finish because no one cared when we finished. No one cared when we started.

And then there's "House of Cards." In many ways I can't stop watching "House of Cards." But binge-watching "House of Cards" the weekend it comes out does not feel like a relaxing reward. It has nothing to do with reclaiming time and everything to do with time being dictated to you.

Sure, in theory, you can watch whenever you want. But if you're on Twitter, you're surrounded by people tweeting spoilers and bragging about finishing. Magazines and blogs publish pieces that will only make sense if you've "caught up." What was once the most enjoyable way to consume seasons of TV becomes a social obligation.

No one has explored this as well as "Portlandia" (also streaming on Netflix, if you want to binge). Think of the sketch in which a man and woman start watching "Battlestar Galactica" before going to a party, only to get sucked in so deep they abandon all sanity, calling in sick to work, forgetting to pay for electricity, chanting "next one, next one." This sort of behavior is crazy — but it's a fun, personal sort of crazy. Now think of that other "Portlandia" sketch, in which friends sit down for coffee, but instead of discussing what they've read, they try to one-up each other by asking if the other has read as much as they have, until they're literally eating the pages of a magazine. The Netflix push to "watch it now" makes TV feel like a race, one that I have no interest in running.

 

1
Text Only
Arts & Entertainment
  • garner4.jpg Family, friends remember Garner’s Norman roots

    Flowers started arriving at the James Garner statue at Main Street and Jones Avenue Sunday morning after residents learned of the famed actor and Norman native’s death Saturday night in California.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Banjo 1 American Banjo Museum offers look at past

    What do you call perfect pitch?  If you can throw a banjo through the window and onto the garbage truck!  My brother-in-law, a musician, told me this joke.  Boy, the banjo is the Rodney Dangerfield of instruments — it gets no respect.  Well, get ready to appreciate the banjo for its history and heritage — at the American Banjo Museum in OKC’s Bricktown. This cool museum takes you through 370 years of banjo history in eight minutes, then settles down to give you details which will keep you interested for many more.

    July 19, 2014 6 Photos

  • Enjoy affordable romance in Dahlonega, Ga.

    Nestled in the mountains of northern Georgia against the Chattahoochee National Forest lies a tiny town that offers an authentic peek at a time long past. The charm of yesteryear combined with the calm of nature, friendly locals and the fun of back country roads dotted with vineyards and tasting rooms results in the perfect getaway for couples in search of a romantic escape or honeymoon destination. Those headed to Dahlonega for an intimate weekend will want to consider the following itinerary items.

    July 19, 2014

  • Kyle_Dillingham_cutout useBH.jpg Dillingham in benefit concert Monday at Symphony Center

    Musician Kyle Dillingham will perform a concert at 7:30 p.m. Monday to raise funds for a local man in need of a liver transplant.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Book to be launched at Uptown Grocery Co.

    A book focusing on support for children with autism will be launched at Uptown Grocery Co. from 2-5 p.m. July 19. “New Frontiers in Sensory Integration” is the most recent work of internationally acclaimed educator Stephanie Mines. Although based in Colorado, the neuropsychologist has gained experience in various parts of the world. Edmond was chosen as the launching place in honor of the local physical therapists who influenced Dr. Mines during her clinical trials.

    July 17, 2014

  • City Council approves $114,500 for statues

    City Council members have approved a $114,500 supplemental appropriation for public art.
    During the previous fiscal year, private contributions covered costs of a couple of larger art pieces that exceeded the city’s matching contribution limit of $35,000, causing the city to run short of budget authority as year-end activity approached, according to background provided by the council.

    July 17, 2014

  • line of girls 2877.jpg Summer camp enriches children

    Edmond's Historical Society 1889 summer camps were held in the historic one-room Territorial Schoolhouse on Second Street in Edmond. The children learned what their counterparts used 125 years ago to clean, cook and play with and experienced what a school day in the life of a child in 1889 was like.

    July 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • seamstresses.jpg Sewing camps helps girls hone in skills

    Anna Paladini (foreground) and her twin sister Alex Paladini work on their patchwork purses during the Sewing Camp held at the Parks and Recreation department in Mitch Park. The girls planned their summer vacation to see their grandparents, Kay and Mark Mades, around the camp Jeanine Smith teaches each summer.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • FAI camp 4 SLIDESHOW: Fine Arts Institute camp Campers learned how to apply stage make-up, do magic tricks and clown around this week at the Fine Arts Institute of Edmond's Theatre Escape Camp. This annual summer camp offering combines a number of hands-on exercises and fun for students interested in drama and the arts.

    July 16, 2014

  • Peanut Butter and Jellyfish 7-15 Good Reads

    NOTE: Email dpeery@edmondsun.com to have your name entered into a drawing for the following titles: “Peanut Butter and Jellyfish” and/or “Bad Luck Girl.” Deadline is 10 a.m. July 21. Winner will be notified by return email. Winner is responsible for picking up the book at The Edmond Sun at 123 S. Broadway. All entrants must be 18 or older to win.

    July 15, 2014 2 Photos