The New Way of Watching TV
By: Connor Lenahan
I have almost abandoned trying to watch television when it actually airs. I follow only a few shows when they are on weekly. I watch The Newsroom, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers, The League and The Walking Dead regularly, and that is it.
The rest of my time is spent on television from outside sources. Mainly binge watching.
Binge watching is possibly the most American way of watching television. We enjoy getting what we want when we want it. I have found it exponentially more rewarding to watch multiple seasons of a show at my leisure, rather than to wait weeks at a time for a new hour of News Night with Will McAvoy.
I just recently watched the entirety of Entourage again after going to Los Angeles. It was much more fun to follow the roller coaster career of Vincent Chase from Queens Boulevard to Aquaman to Medellin to Smoke Jumpers to Gatsby to Air Walker in one fell swoop rather than to let his career be left in disarray for multiple years of real world time. Seriously, Vince had multiple seasons where he was off from shooting a movie, meaning that in real time you were just hanging around with him rather than trying to become the biggest star in Hollywood.
This creates a more rewarding narrative in which annoying portions of the story will only remain for a few hours as opposed to a few weeks and months at a time. For example, Friday Night Lights started with one of the most dynamic and impressive seasons in television history, including a pilot episode that left me damn near breathless. However, due to unfortunate timing with the writers strike in 2007, the second season was a complete mess. Spoilers for all those who have not caught up (it was six years ago, so it’s not exactly the hottest news right now) but Landry ends up killing a guy, Jason Street knocks up a waitress, things are just off.
It is widely believed that the second season of the show is a misfire, and could most likely be skipped if binge watching. Being a completionist, I watched the season as fast as possible and got back to it being the most underrated show on TV.
Lost is one of my all time favorite shows and one that makes for a fantastic binge watch. It is both incredible and engaging. Questions will arise about mythology from the show from every episode. The questions are answered in a matter of weeks in watching as opposed to years in real life. Want to know the deal with the numbers? You can both figure out what they are and what they mean in a relatively short period of time.
Binge watching has given me a few of my favorite shows in the past couple of years, and now, I think it will be giving me even more. I have a few shows that I am looking forward to making my way through in their entirety.
There is a group of shows widely considered to be the greatest dramas in television history. The Wire, The Sopranos, Mad Men and Breaking Bad are almost universally agreed upon as the four best programs to ever appear on screen, and I have seen maybe two hours combined of all four shows. I’m looking forward to The Sopranos because James Gandolfini is a terrific actor, and there are many people I like from other shows (IE: Jamie-Lynn Sigler on Entourage) got their beginnings on The Sopranos. Plus, even though I have no idea about the context of the scene, I am still a fan of the final scene for being simultaneously not rewarding and perfect. I’m not sure there has ever been a more perfect cliffhanger in history. If that is what David Chase wanted, I fully approve.
The Wire is about the drug culture of Baltimore starring Idris Elba, Michael K. Williams and Michael B. Jordan. Enough said, I’m in 100%.
Mad Men has Jon Hamm in a suit. I’m sold at that. Including John Slattery, who I like a ton, and other awesome cast members, and the infamous scene from “The Suitcase” and I will be plowing out the entire series once it wraps up next year.
Finally Breaking Bad just started up its final season last night and my Twitter exploded in excitement over the past week. Bryan Cranston is incredible, and the show looks equally amazing, so I am in for a full series run once the final season ends this fall.
The fifth show is basically me caving in to peer pressure from my friends Mo, Alex, Kait, Serena and Elyse. I will be attempting to watch Doctor Who sometime very soon, because it appears, at least from Tumblr posts, that I would absolutely love the show.
Side note, I have never seen an episode, but I immediately get the sense that I will enjoy Matt Smith. He just looks like a fun guy and a great actor. Is it completely odd that I would think this? Yeah. Do I care? No. I’m starting soon, so allow me to apologize if you start to see Doctor Who references popping up over the next few days. It’s what I do.
We are never going to entirely move away from live television. That would be impossible. However, with the rise of Netflix and their new, successful shows House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, along with the revival of Arrested Development, all released as full seasons at one time, it appears as though binge watching is becoming more or less embraced by large sections of culture.
I encourage binge watching for all those that have not, and continuation of binge watching for all those already partaking. Now if you will excuse me, I have some British science fiction to being attempting to understand.
Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is the founder and editor-in-chief of Connorlenahan.com. He is a freshman at Boston University, majoring in journalism.