Now now, read a little bit further before you jump down my throat.
I love Netflix.
It’s probably one of the greatest inventions of the Twenty-first Century. This is coming from a girl who has spent hours and hours — days even! — bingeing on entire series. The power of Netflix has introduced me to classics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, overseas gems such as Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and even more recent hits like Lost and Breaking Bad. Platforms like Netflix and Hulu are great for catching up on episodes. But that’s exactly it; they’re great for catching up.
This last week, the entire third season of Orange is the New Black was released on Netflix, and I was PSYCHED! It’s a fantastic show! And I’m not going to lie, I started watching it immediately; each episode trailing into another. At the same time, millions of people across the world started consuming these never-before-seen episodes. But as great of a show as OITNB is, instantly released series cannot hold a candle to the experience of watching “live” television.*
* Live as in episodes released weekly, as opposed to all at once.
For me, watching a show is a social experience.
I may be watching TV deep within the depths of my room, shades down, void of all human contact, but following a show connects me to an entire population of fellow fans. Some are my friends, some are family, some are complete strangers. But we are united through our devotion to a series.
Take this week’s finale of Game of Thrones.
If you don’t know what happened, basically the internet exploded.
And it was so much fun!
As soon as credits were rolling, everyone took to twitter to express their feelings. Jokes were cracked, theories were hatched, and support was given for the mourning. And this didn’t just happen for the last episode. After every episode, I texted my watching friends with a “OMG, can you believe that so and so did that? What does that mean?” Down the rabbit hole we go!
And you can’t forget Think Pieces! Media sites get so much traffic from writing follow-ups to the week’s episodes. Why? Because viewers want to talk about what they saw. If you have a good show, you crave more beyond the 50 minutes of air time.
Unfortunately, you can’t vent your joy/anger/shock/frustration with Netflix original series because…
Spoilers Spoilers Everywhere!
You may have finished Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt in a record-breaking six hours, but your friend has been chugging through it for the last three months. There are so many things you’re dying to talk about, but you can’t because they insist on no spoilers.
Ok, now let’s consider a show with more pressing issues like OITNB. There are so many big themes to discuss: race, sexuality, class. When is too soon to release those think pieces? Look at one of my favorite news sites, Jezebel, for example: at least two Game of Thrones related articles are written a week, while only two articles for Orange is the New Black have been featured since the season’s airing. And the GoT ones discuss the episode, where as the latter revolve around casting and production.
In this day and age, leaking spoilers is a big deal! While on live TV you can assume it’s safe to talk a week later, there’s no way to tell when the whole season is released!
And by the time your friend does catch up…
What happened again?
In a fifty minute episode, how can you possibly remember every laugh, every zinger, or every time Taystee drops a fantastic Harry Potter reference?
Simple. You can’t.
Now multiply that by thirteen episodes.
I have trouble keeping what happened in the earlier episodes of the season’s GoT straight, and that’s a shorter season than Orange is the New Black, for sure. And both these shows are jam packed with fantastic writing. So all these moments that I can’t wait to talk about, to see if you cried a little too, will be lost by the time you’ve finishes the season. This could be a huge disservice to the hot button issues a groundbreaking show like that brings up.
Instead it’s like:
“Hey did you finally finish this season?”
“Yah, wasn’t it great?”
“There was something really important that I wanted to talk about, and I was waiting for you finish, but now I can’t remember.”
“Aw man, too bad.”
“Uhh, gotta go now.”
Stop! Let’s talk about how privelege allows Piper to manipulate the prison system, or how prison is a dumping ground for the mentally ill like Suzanne! Isn’t that why the show was written?
Is this every going to change? Probably not.
Most likely even more series will have entire seasons released at once. Society is increasingly now now now more than ever. And we’ll continue to eat it up. There’s nothing wrong with the Netflix release, but let’s never forget the thrill of live television. It’s what’s keeping us binge-aholics from becoming mole people.