Binge-viewing House of Cards was an interesting, yet familiar, experience to me. When it comes to binge-viewing television shows on Netflix or HBO, I am no stranger; however, due to HOC’s intensive and immersive structure, I found myself tired, anxious, and annoyed at times. Most of the shows I like to binge-view, I have seen before or do not require as much of attention to grasp and understand what is going on. From taking notes and listening intently to characters and their conversations, at around episode four, I found myself really wanting to stop watching. Despite being tired, I did find binge-viewing this show beneficial in connecting with the characters, their story lines, and how all of the interconnecting interactions between characters gave insight into more hidden themes. Looking back on this experience, I probably would have missed or not connected important scenes from episode to episode. Despite me calling them episodes, Netflix does have the episodes listed as chapters. McCormick gives insight to how this may beneficial giving them the distinction of “chapters” rather than “episodes”. The benefits of this could be promoting and changing the connotation of binging into something more productive, giving a sense of accomplishment of finishing a chapter like in a book. Removing this negative connotation, could actually promote the binge-worthy style of production that HOC promotes.
Linking House of Cards’ addicting viewing platform and its addiction-based themes, McCormick gives insight to how HOCs is reflective of the viewers own addiction to the show as well. McCormick writes about how through the use of “surrogates”, the viewer is able to connect on a personal level with the character as not so different from themselves. The path of addiction and its repercussions are illustrated in Peter and Zoe’s lives, but can also be reflective to that of the viewer as well. Being immersed into the addiction, whether that be drugs and alcohol or information, the viewer is also addicted to continuing to view from chapter to chapter and possibly experiencing some of the same things as Peter and Zoe. For Peter and Zoe their addiction begins to define them; this raised the question for me whether or not continuing to the next chapter of the season defines the viewer. Other characters that may be considered surrogates could be Adam, who keeps coming back to Claire, or even Tom who I view is addicted to control and power.
McCormick and Snider have two different views and claims on the effects of binge-viewing episodes has on people, as well as society. I currently agree with both viewpoints as McCormick’s viewpoint leads to the truth of Snider’s. I would agree that yes binge-watching episodes is “productive, often deliberate, and potentially transformative mode of viewing”. I would say that if the goal is to indeed get through many episodes of a season and be immersed in the full characterization and cinematic experience of the show. I would say that the repercussions of this lead to Sniders point that this type of viewing can lead to feelings of “loneliness, depression, and anxiety” and that binge-viewing can shape and change the dynamic of home-life of families. Families sitting around a TV and not talking due to no commercials and one episode immediately following another episode leaves no room for discussion or bonding within the home among friends or family.
I can connect with both of these author’s viewpoints because it does feel like an accomplishment finishing multiple episodes in a row or finishing a season in a weekend. Especially in today’s culture, it seems it is a race against time and each other to be the first one to finish a season as soon as it drops on Netflix. The unspoken truth about this culture and trend is how draining and ostracizing it feels to sit alone on a weekend or coming home from work and sitting down to watch two or three episodes before bed. I will admit I have spent a few weekends here and there cooped up watching episode after episode of Game of Thrones or Greys Anatomy. Watching House of Cards, I laid in bed with my lap top with my blinds shut and the door closed for six episodes in a row. This began to feel very claustrophobic and exhausting producing lots of anxiety for me to keep going. I feel as if watching more TV designed shows with episodes released once a week are easier because you can check your phone or lose concentration and still have a sense of what is going on or without missing anything too crucial. With shows like HOC or GOT, attention to detail is crucial for the viewer to pick up on subtleties and the depth of the show.