Prior to the start of this class, I did not have a Netflix subscription, so my experiences with binge-watching was limited to the occasional time some friends and I would get together and marathon a show. In fact the threat of binge-watching is one of the exact reasons why I chose not to have a Netflix subscription, because the notion of possibly being sucked into shows for days at a time was not appealing for me because I knew I would be less productive that way. When I was watching with friends, I could talk to someone, we could take a break as a group for another activity–there were alternative ways to spend time between episodes. However, when I am watching alone, there is no such thing. The dark and twisted themes of House of Cards were ones that I could easily get caught up in because, despite their toxicity, it was fascinating and I couldn’t quite look away. Overall, binge-watching the first six episodes of House of Cards turned out to not be as taxing physically or mentally as I thought it would be, and perhaps this is due to the fact that I spaced the episodes out over two days.
Snider writes about how the devaluation of real life prompts viewers to watch even more television, and I can see how this vicious cycle could easily begin. One watches a show for an escape from life, something which I have done multiple times, before getting snatched up by the show or realizing that continuing to watch and putting your life on the back burner is easier than turning the oven off and getting back to work. I agree with Snider that binge watching can cause isolation, I know I did not see much of my family or friends while watching. Under normal, not binging circumstances, I likely would have spread the episodes out over four or five days as opposed to two, and would have had ample of opportunity for social interaction. The binging eliminated that option. While I do not think one or two incidents of binging every so often will cause considerable harm, if it became a lasting habit, I can see how the outcome could be detrimental.
I watched the episodes on my computer, which may have offered a bit more screen intimacy because I used my own, very personal, device for viewing rather than a house wide television. Also, I tend to do everything sitting on the floor without a chair, and binge-watching, apparently, is no exception. Needless to say my back got a little sore from being hunched over for three hours at a time.
When it came to my relationship to the characters, themes, and narratives of House of Cards, I definitely feel as if I got swept into the world of the show, so to speak. However, I did not find myself relating too much to the plot and the characters in terms of how they fit me personally, like Snider mentions throughout their writings. It was more so like my own life and personality got put on hold in favor of observing the show more closely, like pressing my face up to a glass fishbowl so that I can only see within the fishbowl itself and nothing outside of it in my peripheral became visible. In terms of mental fatigue, I did not feel much. I was similar to me watching a movie two days in a row, which overall, was not that surprising. Albeit I will admit I think I did a good job at getting up and stretching, getting something to drink, or playing with one of the house cats while watching. I knew if I was viewing the show for too long I would as good as turn into the sluggish, floppy fish I was observing earlier.
In regards to McCormick definition of surrogates, I found I related to Zoe the most, primarily because she has the same gender identity as I do (female), she is closest to me in age, and interested in writing and journalism. This naturally made me relate to her more in some regards, but in others, such as her sexual relationships with older men, made me disassociate with her. However, by that point in the narrative during later chapters, I was invested in her plot and eager to keep watching so the disassociation no longer mattered. I had bitten the hook with the food on it and wasn’t about to let go. The concept of naming episodes chapters also resonated with me, because I likely read more books than I watch television, so it was something I could relate to. Like McCormick pointed out, such a choice was also unique because I had never seen a show do such a thing before, and the lack of names for each episode made everything feel more fluid, as if the jagged stop and go movements between chapters had been erased all together.