Discussion: The Pros and Cons of Binge Watching

Binge-watching is the most common pastime nowadays. With the rise in popularity of Netflix and Amazon Prime, TV Shows and films are instantaneously accessible to everyone. Now, I have binge-watched in the past and it’s a great way to unwind. However, there are also some downsides to this binge-watching culture we’ve developed. Here is a summary of some of the pros and cons of binge-watching.

Pros

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A Fully Immersive Experience

The best thing about binge-watching is the fact that you can throw yourself into the show without having to agonise over the long wait between episodes. It makes it easier to really get sucked into the show without worrying about the confusion between characters or remembering plot points that turned up at the beginning but end up being resolved at the end when you’ve forgotten all about it. Binge-watching gives you the chance to dive head first into a show and just escape. You can forget about all the stresses and worries of life and fully immerse yourself into the show.

No Room for Cliffhangers

You either love, hate, or love to hate cliffhangers. I tend to lean towards the love to hate category, but there are some cliffhangers that are pure evil, especially when you have to wait weeks or even months for it to be resolved. In those waiting periods a lot can happen that could also affect the lasting impact of the cliffhanger. Some shows do a phenomenal job at carrying the suspense over until the next episode or season, but others don’t, and in this day and age, it becomes increasingly more difficult to keep spoilers a secret. When these spoilers leak, you’re basically given the answers you seek before the episode airs, fundamentally taking out that sense of anticipation that came with not knowing. By binge-watching, you basically guarantee that you’ll find the resolution to those cliffhangers as soon as possible and avoid those spoilers.

Cons

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Time Consuming

Let’s be real, binge-watching is the most time-consuming activity. As much as I would love to spend the week binge-watching, life has other plans. On my days off I’m so busy trying to catch up with everything else that needs doing that I can’t even begin to justify using the entire day to binge-watch the show. If I did that I feel like I would have just wasted the day away. I would rather be proactive and get the jobs that need to be done out of the way so I can then enjoy and watch a couple of episodes as a reward.

A clash with mood-watching

A lot of the time trying to gauge what you want to watch is the hardest challenge, especially when your mood often dictates the final choice. Therefore, if you binge-watch and find yourself in the mood to watch something else, do you stop watching immediately, or do you push through until the end? Personally, I have been known to just stop watching, it’s partly the reason I have so many shows that are incomplete because if I’m not in the mood to watch it, then forcing myself to continue on with the show takes the fun out of it. Having that break in between episodes means that you have the chance to follow the other TV shows or films you want to watch.

Losing the sense of anticipation

To me, this is the biggest con of binge-watching because it takes away all sense of anticipation. If you follow a show on a weekly basis, that break between episodes is a great way to embrace the anticipation and heighten that excitement to find out what happens next. It also gives you a chance to really process what happened in the previous episodes instead of just throwing yourself into the next one. Waiting between episodes gives you a chance to take everything in and really appreciate the intricacy of the show. Also, I find that having to wait helps build that sense of community between viewers. Live tweeting is a great way to generate conversation while you watch the show, but then you have that waiting period where fans can further communicate with each other through discussion and setting predictions of things to come. That community interaction is a great way to heighten your excitement for a show.

Is there a Middle Ground?

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Personally, I am not someone that can binge-watch an entire show in the space of a week. I like to pace myself and take my time. My binge-watching routine is tamer than the stay up all night to finish philosophy. Instead, I tend to watch one or two episodes a day. That way I can still finish other tasks that need doing and I get to prolong the experience without worrying about the major gap between seasons. I tend to watch box sets and the worst feeling is when you finish it too quickly. Therefore, I do tend to find that middle ground in binge-watching so I can enjoy aspects from the intense binge-watching and the weekly waiting experience.

Do you enjoy binge-watching?
What was the last show you binge-watched?

15 thoughts on “Discussion: The Pros and Cons of Binge Watching

    • That is a very fair point and I do find that the show has an influence on whether or not I binge watch it. With comedies, there is a sense of freedom to come and go in bouts with watching the show, but with more plot heavy shows I tend to binge watch them.

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    • I think these mini-series shows make it a lot easier to binge-watch and there’s a greater sense of consistency when it comes to those 13 episode series. With sitcoms, I tend to watch them when I want to and not because I desperately need to finish it.

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  1. I am not sure I really see the cons for myself, except the time thing obviously. I won’t attempt binge-watching anything if I am not in the mood for it and if I am already immersed then that IS my mood haha also, I have no quarrels with not having any anticipation or discussion between episodes, you can still do that after a season and you still have to wait for that new season anyway, so I really, really do not mind that I get all the episodes at once. I think that is part of why I adore Netflix as much as I do. With weekly shows, I just stop watching a lot of the things because I don’t want to check in every week. For me, that’s where the mood escapes more often than not.
    But this was still a great post and I loved hearing your take on it πŸ˜€

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    • That is actually a very valid point. I found with Poldark that sense of anticipation diminished as we got further into the season, to the point where it took an entire month to watch the finale and even then it was more out of a sense of needing closure than anything. I think the TV shows in question have a big part to play. Some shows are so addictive you can’t help but binge it, but I find with some other programs I need to go at that 3 episode a day pace instead of the daily binge sesh.

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      • I notice it most of all with Animal Kingdom. Whenever the new season starts, I am usually very interested and excited, but forget about it two weeks later. However, when there’s then like a season and a half released, because I didn’t catch up, everything that felt boring on a week to week basis is now golden.

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  2. I think the no-cliffhanger point is the most compelling reason why I enjoy binge-watching, though there are certain shows where I feel like the cliffhangers act to my enjoyment. Very rarely though! You know me and cliffhangers.

    It definitely is very time-consuming. I’ve also noticed that sometimes if I binge-watch a show, I grow to get tired of it more easily. Especially if it’s one of those shows with 40+ minutes of episodes.

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    • I have a love to hate relationship with cliffhangers. On the one hand, I hate them for all the questions they leave unanswered and the shock factor is sometimes too much for me to handle, but I also love the sense of anticipation that comes with them.

      I think mini-series have become a favourite of mine. With a 13 episode series I find it a lot easier to get invested in the show as they have that sense of consistency plot and character wise and don’t have to deal with too many filler episodes. It’s harder for me to invest in a 20+ episode season with episodes that are over 40 minutes long.

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  3. Oh this is such an interesting discussion! I don’t think I am a big binge-watcher, given that I’d never binge-watch an entire season of a tv show all at once, mainly because I don’t have the time to do so and, if I ever do, I don’t really take the time to do so. I like to change things up and do other things in the meantime and I LOVE that feeling of anticipation, to get back to my favorite show soon, for instance, that’s such a good feeling to have πŸ™‚ even if sometimes it is VERY frustrating as well to wait hahaha.

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    • It’s interesting to see all the ways people prefer watching their favourite program. Some days I wish I could have a day where I just binge-watch, but I know that by the end of the season I need a break from that show just so I can get a breather. For me, the best way to keep that sense of anticipation is to complete a task before allowing myself to indulge. That way I feel like I’ve earned the right to watch and relax haha.

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      • YES exactly, that’s what I do, more often than not – watch an episode, do something else that I need to do, then reward myself with another episode haha πŸ˜›

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