We live in an era of immediate accessibility to almost any kind of media, and that includes movies and television, with entire seasons and franchises just a click away. Feel like watching “The Wire” again this weekend? Yep, you can. Want to settle in with “Friday Night Lights“? Go for it. How about revisiting all the “Star Wars” movies? You can make it happen. But are we really digesting what we’re watching when it’s consumed buffet style? Is there something to be said for the old television model which had us wait patiently each week for a new episode of our favorite show? The creators of two of the biggest shows on television think so.
Speaking with THR, “Orange Is The New Black” writer/creator Jenji Kohan does miss the old school method of TV viewing. “I miss having people on the same page. I do miss being able to go online and have the conversation the day after. But it’s kind of a waste of time to lament that because that’s not the way our show comes,” she says.
And indeed, there is something to be said for a collective shared experience, for everyone gathering around the watercooler to discuss an episode, without the conversation being stopped by someone saying, “No spoilers, I haven’t seen episode six yet!” And Matthew Weiner has had the luxury of a weekly experience of “Mad Men” on AMC, but as he moves forward with whatever television projects are on the horizon he hopes he can retain the model that has made his success.
“I would try to convince them to let me roll them out so at least there was just some shared experience,” he recently said during a talk at the New York Public Library. “I love the waiting; I love the marination. When you watch an entire season of a show in a day, you will definitely dream about it, but it’s not the same as walking around the whole week, saying, ‘God, Pete really pissed me off.’ And then at the end of the week, saying, ‘When he said he had nothing, that really hurt.’ I remember people saying that. You can reconsider it. And you see it pop up in your life. … I feel like you should be able to be as specific as you possibly can, and let that sit with people. I loved having the period in between the shows, and it probably is the end of it.”
And while Netflix has cemented their reputation with enabling viewers to binge watch their favorite shows, not everyone is following suit, and models are being shifted on the fly. Hulu and Yahoo are rolling out some of their orginal programs weekly, while HBO still embraces that format as well. Meanwhile, NBC is using the show “Aquarius” to experiment by putting it all online at once, but rolling it out via the traditional format on television. And certainly, not every show makes sense as a binge watch. For example, I found Netflix’s “Bloodline” really benefited from having some space between episodes, even if it was just a day or two, as it allowed the themes and drama to really take hold.
But what do you think? How do you prefer to watch television and where does the future lie? Let us know below.