For many, today isn’t just any Saturday. Today is day 2 of your “House of Cards” season 4 binge weekend…unless you’ve already made it through all 13 episodes. In which case, I give you a slightly judgmental salute.
On a slightly more serious note, “House of Cards,” did release its fourth season this weekend, and many will dedicate their weekend to binge viewing the new season (and its preceding three). It seems like as good a time as any to give some thought to the practice of binge-viewing.
While the practice of watching an entire season (or more) in one sitting (more or less) did exist prior to “House of Cards,” it wasn’t until Frank and Claire Underwood came on the scene that it became a wide spread cultural practice.
Here was a new show that we could watch all at once. Which was kind of amazing, until it wasn’t.
It gave us instant access to the entire season, and removed the social aspect of television. Before diving into a conversation at the watercooler you first had to establish where everyone was in the show, and even then, unless everyone had already seen the entire season you still ran the risk of spoilers. (When you’re watching the show binge-style it’s hard to remember what happened in a given episode).
Of course, how we watch shows isn’t the only thing that changes. When you start releasing shows an entire season at a time it not only changes how we watch tv, but how tv is written. Gone are the days of having (or getting) to wait a whole week to see what happens next. The mid season or two-part episode cliffhanger has all but disappeared. Which isn’t necessarilly a bad thing.
I believe we truly are living through a golden era of episodic television. Some of the best comedy and drama is being written right now; however, it would be just as good if we watched it without giving up an entire weekend of our lives. Maybe gave ourselves time to think, and mull over the events of each episode. I’m not saying we should return to the “dark ages” of viewing one episode at a time, but maybe two or three? After all, isn’t good television better if we savor it?
Okay, well that’s my two cents. Good luck with the rest of your “House of Cards,” marathon.
More on the Story: Washingtonian
…just for fun: