The Problem With Binge Watching

In this week’s addition of The Business, Kim Masters showcases David Lindelof, writer of the television series The Leftovers, who talks about the last season of this show. The show focuses on a select few who have survived some type of global catastrophe, leaving only 2% of the Earth’s population. Lindelof, who has had success writing many other television shows, including the critically acclaimed series Lost, urges viewers and critics alike to not binge watch the season. He realizes this is much easier said than done, and he even admits that he is guilty of binge watching shows as well. However, he points out some issues with binge watching, which is a frequent habit for many people in our world of media consumption.

From a creator’s point of view, he finds it almost disappointing that people rush through his shows so quickly. It implies that they perhaps did not take a moment to savor and analyze the aspects of one episode. Rather, binging feels like a race as opposed to enjoyment of story and art.

He also mentions that a sense of anticipation has been lost with this new phenomenon of binging. There is no excitement for the next episode because there is no waiting involved. He compares it to a “Christmas morning feeling.” That sense of wonder and suspense is completely dissolved in an age when people can just go to the next episode instantaneously.

Unfortunately, binging has now become almost a necessity if one wants to stay relevant in the world of film and television. He mentions that he once binge watched Stranger Things in order to feel like he had cultural cachet as a writer. This pressure to be “in the know” is common amongst many cinephiles and television viewers, which continues the process of binge watching. Lindelof wants to enforce a “prescription” method, at least for viewing the last season of his most recent show, The Leftovers. He aims to have people “take one a day”, like a dosage of medication in order to fully appreciate the story.

While I have also indulged in the binging trend so popular with many shows on Netflix, I must agree with Lindelof, at least for a few shows. Some shows, like dramas, should be spaced out over a longer period of time rather than clicking on the next episode instantaneously. It allows for fans of the shows to communicate about possible outcomes in future episodes and the artistic analysis of one single episode. When watching shows at such a rapid pace, it is easy to forget or neglect some of the artistic flourishes from the directors and cinematographers. Lindelof has some great advice for binge watchers, and one can hope that viewers will follow that advice when watching his latest triumph, the third and final season of The Leftovers.

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