A major story junkie in any form—books, tv, movies, you name it—it’s been hard to adjust to the idea that I can download and watch an entire series in a few weeks instead of the years it took to produce and air the show originally.
My first experience with tv gluttony was with 24. My husband and I watched the season two opener where Jack says, “I’m gonna need a hacksaw,” and decided we needed to see season one. A trip to the local WalMart later we were watching episodes back to back on DVD.
It set a bad precedent.
Now with video on demand services like Hulu, Netflix, and DirectTv I can easily download and watch entire series without even changing out of my bathrobe.
But like an addict chasing a bigger high, after watching binge watching several tv series I missed the first time around, I’ve come to a disappointing conclusion.
Most of the time, waiting a week for the next episode makes the story better.
Heresy, I know, but it’s true.
Take The Sopranos, for instance. Highly acclaimed, award winning, on most people’s best ever lists, it was a series I didn’t watch when it was airing on HBO because I had young kids in the house and didn’t want random f-bombs landing in Grandma’s living room. Years later the language is still coarse, but the kids no longer care what I’m watching since they’re too busy with their own lives. They are also the kind of kids who cringe when I say hell. They’re far more likely to censor me for watching it than have any interest themselves.
So over the last week or so I’ve watched the first season and a couple of episodes of season two. The acting is good, the writing is snappy, production values are high—but my finger is itching on the fast forward button and it’s not just the scenes in the Bada Bing Club that have me speeding through an episode.
I’m bored. I want to get on with the story already. All the lingering conversations over coffee and food are killing me; I don’t care about Tony’s fantasies with women, Christopher’s ambitions as a screenwriter, or Meadow’s teenage angst. With about 86 hours of tv to get through, I want things to move along much faster. It doesn’t help that I know it ends with the screen going blank with Tony Soprano’s implied death. I’m seriously considering abandoning the series in favor of reading episode synopsizes to find out how it gets to the end so I can get back to pretending to clean house and cook. And that’s tragic.
When you have a week to think about what happens next, to wonder what clues are hidden in seemingly random conversations, to shake your head over Livia Soprano’s machinations or Carmela’s no-nonsense approach to life, the pacing’s beautiful.
But instant gratification means no downtime to ponder or reflect because the answers are waiting in your video cue.
To finish the series, I’m going to have to limit myself to an episode every so often. No more marathons of three or four episodes an evening.
And that’s tough when you’re a story junkie.