I am just old enough to remember watching cable television series where a full week passed before a new episode graced the screen.
It was appointment television every week where the whole family would pack into the living room, in their unconsciously assigned seats, where devices weren’t plentiful enough to fight for attention.
Now, not only am I not with my family every night, nor does my apartment have cable, but Netflix has opened the floodgates for binge-watching shows. With the next episode of the series slated to start 20 seconds (if not 5) after the previous episode ends, the decision-making process needs to accelerate whether or not you commit another half hour to watching more Criminal Minds, or finally shut down and go to bed.
Some days, mostly weekends, very little thought goes into me letting the timer tick down and move the show up an episode but during the week with responsibilities weighing heavy on my shoulders, it becomes harder to let the sequence play out and I am instead forced to stop it to move on to something more productive like dishes or folding laundry or writing (sometimes).
Either way, long are the days of cliffhanging season finales and I'll tell you what, I am nothing but thankful. Instead of waiting months on end thinking about what happened to a member of the Behavioral Analysis Unit, I can turn on my Xbox controller and hit next episode in about three seconds and just figure it out on my own and put off those dishes for another episode.
I know there are still shows that are currently airing on cable that people do need to experience that pit of unknowingness where the only way to fill their time is to come up with another circumstance where “There’s no way they just killed him off,” or, “No chance they’re letting this bad guy get away this time.”
But I am no longer part of that crowd and can instead jump right over that wait period and have all my questions answered within the first few minutes. In the case with the newest season of Stranger Things, I flew through the eight episodes in only three sittings as opposed to the eight-week journey I would have undergone had it run on cable television.
I suppose it does ruin some of the anticipation and puts a quasi-kibosh on those conversations in between episodes of what happened there but in the era of up-to-the-minute information, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Lindsay has taken advantage of the binge-watching a little more than I have and that’s resulted in only a couple of extradited series on my part, including the second season of Stranger Things starting when I was really trying to sleep some more but hearing the scenes play out, I couldn’t not sit up and watch with her.
She’s blown through whole seasons in a singular day and I'm sure she’s not the only one, so Netflix is certainly serving its purpose in this day and age, but it must have affected the writing of the series altogether.
Instead of setting up those cliffhanging season-finale episodes, writers are now forced to keep the action going and expect the binge-watching audience to not pay attention to the end of the season and continue blowing through into the next season to figure out what happened.
The movie industry has also taken that into consideration, and specific actors are now being recruited to make Netflix-specific movies that are over within an hour and a half in order to allow time for Netflix to suggest another movie for viewers to indulge in mere seconds after getting through the first one.
Overall, I can’t imagine reverting to the old-school approach of sitting down only once a week to partake in some invigorating action only for another week to pass before I figure out what happens next.
Although I am not the kind of millennial to not appreciate that version of couch surfing, the current era of engaging in a whole series going into my brain in a matter of days certainly appeals to me more and I really do need to thank my brother Mitch for paying for the overall subscription I only have an account for.
That sort of account sharing aspect of thing is the next hurdle Netflix must overcome but until then, I'm cool with knocking down a few episodes of Criminal Minds while I debrief from a long day’s work.