Becoming un-binged : to watch or not to watch?

binge 4

So…the other day, the subject of binge watching TV shows came up.

We were in an all –day training seminar and on break and someone started talking about series and the art of the binge watch. It came up because I mentioned that I keep seeing these really dark promos for the series Riverdale on my iPad….isn’t there where Archie and the gang lived?  What the hell happened to them??

I have to admit, I had never seriously binge-watched a show until this past winter, when I was visiting my friends Bill and Bruce in Palm Springs, and they introduced me to The Crown on Netflix.

A couple of things before I write more about that:

Even though I have some background in TV and (ok maybe news, so not tv dramas and what not), and I lived with someone for decades who didn’t think about much else besides TV and how it pertained to his life and his livelihood (not making an editorial comment here, really not…kinda), I have found that I am increasingly less interested in trying to  follow a single show.  Part of the problem is that the networks keep changing things up.

“Seasons” are no longer seasons-one show will have five episodes and begin in October, and another comes on in three different segments over the course of the year. I mean, really…Survivor began in the year 2000…and I just checked to see that they are now in their 36th season….how the hell does that add up?! (Don’t answer that, it’s a rhetorical question…but I think it illustrates my point).

The other frustration for me is the range of options for choosing programming.  binge 5When we were kids, we saw a show once on a channel that ranged from 2 to 13 in black and white (I still remember getting our first color tv in the mid-60’s and watching Batman on it—Biff!  Bam! Kapowee! Holy Shit, Batman—the Riddler’s wearing green!)  If we were lucky, there were repeats in the summer, not so we could watch what we missed, but so that we could watch what we liked—again.


binge 9Then came videotape—Betamax (well, there was a failed experiment) and VHS, then DVD and Blueray.  Video rental stores–and you could watch whatever you wanted—movies, series, single programs; you could rent, you could buy and as long as you remembered to “please be kind, rewind”, it was all good.

Glad I didn’t buy stock in Blockbuster.

Finally, where we are today, cable—take your pick of any number of distributors.  First run movies and shows became available, starting with HBO and Cinemax (is that still around?) which made it easier to see what you wanted, but on their schedule-not yours.  Now we have Hulu and Netflix, Amazon Prime and even You Tube, and of course, video on demand.  You can watch on your TV or an IPad or even your phone. Anytime you want.

So many choices for entertainment—whee!  How do we ever find time to talk to each other and just hang out??


binge 10Wow, that was quite a tangent.  Back to Palm Springs just before New Year’s and the Crown.  Bill convinced me to watch a couple of episodes, and that was pretty much all it took.  I was hooked, and as soon as I was home, I went back to the beginning (Bill and Bruce were in the middle of the series) and have now watched and am up to date.

Who knew the Queen had to deal with so much bullshit?

After that, my friend Shelly told me I needed to watch Grace and Frankie.  She wasn’t the first one (I’m sure Judith told me to at least once, but when do I ever listen to anyone?), but she was over and made me watch the first two episodes with her.  When she went home I watched another, and serval hours later, somewhere in the middle of the night, I finished Season 1.  Over the next few weeks, I treated myself to all that was out there, and I can’t wait to see who bought the house, although I think I have a pretty good guess.

OK, I have to take a step back to recommend this one (I’ll get back on topic shortly, I promise):

Grace and Frankie are a little older than me (I should look so good when I am their ages), but I think the part that hooked me was one scene in particular that is part of a conversation I’ve been having with friends of my generation.  You see, it seems we have entered a phase in life where we seem invisible.  I have some theories about why this is, but I will save them for another day (and maybe a podcast/conversation).  But here’s the scene   ←WATCH THIS SHE YELLED  from the series that made me realize it isn’t just the small group with whom I’ve chatted about this.  It’s a thing.

We’ll wait while you watch…

Nailed it.

So, the bottom line to all of this is that when we got to talking about binge watching Friday (see, I told you I’d come full circle), I asked about what shows I should watch next—a summer project of sorts, perhaps, when there’s a little more time to sit back, relax and stare at the TV for 10 or 12 hours, I got all sorts suggestions. (don’t worry, I’ll ask about suggestions for actual books, too).  I do still read, occasionally.

I think I might like to see House of Cards, and I did see an episode or two of Girls (which looked like I wish I could have seen it when I was 20).  Some people have said to watch Game of Thrones, but I don’t know if that’s my style.  Breaking Bad and Weeds might be fun……

binge 11What else?  What other binge-worthy series do you recommend? Tell me what, tell me why, and tell me where I can find it.  (I think I should mention that I have Netflix and regular cable, because I suspect that matters). And don’t say Walking Dead; I watched the first several seasons, but it got too violent (I still don’t know who the bad guy hit with his spiked bat, but I think it was Glen)…and I have watched a few Orange is the New Black episodes in a row, but I kind of gave up on that. Open to suggestions!

And Riverdale?  Consensus was it’s worth a look.  Are Betty and Veronica there?  Jughead and Moose? I think I heard Archie had a thing with Miss Grundy??!! Holy Shit indeed, Batman.

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