Binging On Demand - The New AddictionSeptember 06, 2012
Introducing The Video Glutton - On Demand Weekly's Guide To Binge TV Viewing. @OnDemandWeekly\'s Jean Tait will analyze whether a TV series is Binge TV Viewing worthy.
Binging On Demand - The New Addiction
Introducing The Video Glutton - On Demand Weekly's Guide To Binge TV Viewing
I’ve always been an avid reader. If I’m reading a good book (or sometimes even a mediocre book that is suspenseful), I literally cannot put it down. When I was a kid, my mom would yell at me to go to sleep. I’d promise I would, turn out the light, then as soon as she wasn’t paying attention. I’d pull out a flashlight and make a tent under my covers so I could continue the adventures of Black Beauty. To this day, I will gladly lose sleep if I’m really caught up in a book.
Now I have a new problem: On Demand Binging.
It started with “Weeds” and “Nurse Jackie.” The episodes are only 30 minutes. Cliffhangers be damned! It’s so easy to watch just one more. And no time is being wasted watching commercials!
Mary Louise Parker / Weeds (Showtime)
Those half-hour episodes were a gateway drug. I missed the early stages of Downton Abbey fever. One lost weekend and a box of Earl Grey Tea later, I’m all caught up, and frothing at the mouth for Season Three.
I missed the first couple of episodes of “Bunheads” and the last few episodes of “Smash.” (Yes, I’m a musical theatre geek.) That’s ok, because I can watch it all On Demand!
Katharine McPhee / Smash (NBC)
Don’t even get me started on “Mad Men” or “Breaking Bad.” The next thing you know, it’s 3:00 am, and I’ve got to go to work in 5 hours. Or it’s now Saturday at 10:30pm, and I’ve never even brushed my teeth or changed out of my pajamas from the night before. Oh, well, I can just go back to bed, and clean my house on Sunday (after I finish the third season).
Now my vices have merged.
Now I’m binge-booking/viewing.
“True Blood” got me hooked on Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels. And even though Alan Ball has taken the characters so far from the book characters that they are unrecognizable, I can’t stop watching, and I still binge-read when each new book comes out!
Stephen Moyer, Anna Paquin / TRUE BLOOD (HBO)
I made the mistake of watching the first season of “Game of Thrones” all in one week. Then I had to read the first book in the George R. R. Martin series A Song of Ice and Fire on which “Game of Thrones” is based. Now the second season is over, I’m into the third book and watching both seasons all over again. My house remains a mess, and I only get five hours of sleep each night, but the richness of the show is even deeper when you start back at the beginning, knowing who all the characters are. The book is better, too, with the amazing Peter Dinklage, Lena Heady, Michelle Fairley, Jack Gleeson, and Maisie Williams all giving such perfect faces to the book characters. (Although I have to say I’ve gotten much more critical of some of the details on the show, i.e., book-Daenerys’ hair burned off in the fire, but the show kept her awful blonde wig—but that’s a little nit to pick!).
It may not be healthy, but I’m not alone. From an article on binge-viewing in a recent Wall Street Journal:
Brain chemistry plays a role in binging. "We get into something akin to a trance with great storytelling," says psychiatrist Norman Doidge, author of "The Brain That Changes Itself." Viewers identify with characters on screen and subconsciously begin to mimic their emotions…and each emotional state triggers different brain chemicals, which linger. "These tend to be protracted states," he says. The urge to sustain that inner experience leads you to press "play" on the next episode and the one after that. Longer, uninterrupted viewing sessions can lead to "a deeper virtual-reality experience of the narrative. It can seem more real, from a neurological point of view," Dr. Doidge says.
See? It’s not even my fault. It’s brain chemistry. My boss will have to understand if I’m late tomorrow. I just started Season Six of “The Wire.”
Jean Tait is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. Currently the Director of Programming for the Connecticut Film Festival, Jean has programmed for the Jacksonville Film Festival and Sundance Channel.
You May Also Like From Jean:
GAME OF THRONES: Season 2 - DEMAND IT
THORNE (Encore) - DEMAND IT
TRUE BLOOD - Season 5 - DEMAND IT
VEEP - DEMAND IT
Nurse Jackie - Season 4 - DEMAND IT