Sometimes, binge-watching seems like the perfect activity when I’m bored, other times I NEED it, to escape from reality. In many ways, TV and movies have always been about escaping from reality. However, with binge-watching this tis true at the most extreme possible way. A movie at a movie theater is usually about two hours. A TV cable sitcom is about thirty minutes. Before Netflix, these durations were the max amount of time allotted to an ‘escape’ from reality. With Netflix though, these escapes can be all day events, or potentially weeklong events. It is literally possible to forgot about life and the real world all day if you one were to just watch an entire series on Netflix, viewing one episode after another.
After binge-watching the first six chapters of House of Cards, I did it in a binge style way, one after another. Before I started watching, I thought I would just watch one episode and take a break. Instead, I felt obligated to keep going. According to Zachary Snyder, in his writings within “The Cognitive Psychological Effects of Binge-Watching,” he talks about the anti-social and negative impacts caused by binge-watching. As much fun as binge-watching is, it really has its consequences so in this regard I agree with Snyder. I felt consequences myself actually. While watching House of Cards, I skipped right through dinner time and decided against eating with my roommates. This decision had no other reasoning other than the fact that I really wanted to keep watching. Although this example isn’t a huge issue, I have had worst incidents such as skipping class. That only happened once, but it was one time too many.
I will say that I don’t let it impact my life too much, but for some people it can be a real addiction causing real serious implications on people’s lives. The easy access to the content, definitely adds to this as well. You can start a show on your TV, then continue it on the bus or train to work on your cellphone, then you can finish it on your laptop in between classes in a study lounge. Due to the ease of viewing, one could keep fueling their addiction even outside of their dark room at midnight. For me, the only true severe negative impact on binge-watching would be my health. I have noticed if I watch too much Netflix, my eyes really hurt. I’m not sure if they are becoming permanently damaged by doing this, but in the meantime, they really start to sting and feel irritated after a few hours.
Either way if this is good or bad for the viewer, it is good for Netflix because their concept of viewing TV shows is obviously getting people to watch a lot. House of Cards for example, was their first original series, and it set the standard for creating shows that are interesting but tell a story from one episode to the next.
In traditional sitcom, a lot of the time one episode does not relate to others. If that was the case with Netflix, binge-watching might not be as effective. However, since TV shows on Netflix are almost like one big long movie, it makes sense for viewers to keep on wanting to watch, all day and night. I would go as far to even say that seasons overlap into seasons. So, theoretically, you could watch every season and every episode of House of Cards and it would be like watching one big show/movie mashed up together.