Its been a rough few weeks, and particularly the last few days. It may not be the healthiest way to escape the realities of the world, but we retreated to Planet Netflix yesterday and this afternoon, watching the entire second season of Glow over the two days (eight episodes yesterday, the final two today).
I’m sure somebody must have a blog somewhere entitled ‘Adventures in Binge-Watching.’ It’s illuminating, how so many shows now are surely designed specifically for binge-watching. I certainly don’t think it’s as simple as just instantly dumping an entire season of a show on a service, whether it be Netflix or Amazon or iplayer (the BBC, who you’d think would be above such shenanigans, did it last year, putting up all the first series of Killing Eve on its iplayer service while concurrently airing the show on a traditional weekly schedule on its ‘normal’ channel), and just expecting that people will devour it all at once. I think these modern shows are deliberately designed for binge-watching, whether it be the serial-arc writing across a season or the teasers/cliffhangers that are placed at the end of each installment.
There has been a subtle shift evident in structure. In the ‘old days’ of commercial episodic television, the writing required a sting or tease every twelve minutes or so, to signal the ad breaks and ensure that viewers stick around (and through those paying ads) to see what happened next. These days, the writing is more akin to a movie, with similar pacing, negating the need for those artificial twelve-minute stings and enabling a better flow- albeit with those old stings/cliffhangers being placed at the end of each episode. Similarly Netflix reinforce this by having a 5-second countdown to automatically start the next episode automatically: there’s been more than a few times that a new episode automatically begins and I think, ‘oh well, since its on I’ll just give it ten minutes to see what happens’ and then -boom- that next 40 minutes is toast and the whole ep has gone by.
Anyway, Glow was terrific. I’ll try to get a proper review posted sometime, but it’s definitely superior television- well scripted, acted, directed, funny, sad, and set in the 1980s. I’m a sucker for anything set in the 1980s. Here in the UK the 1970s were particularly grim and for my generation at least, the 1980s were our 1960s. Great films, cheesy films, great music, cheesy music, okay, sure, mostly cheesy television, and yep, lousy fashion, sure, but crikey, we even had totally amazing comics (Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, for cryin’ out loud- nothing has come close since). Maybe its because I’m looking back from the particularly dystopian vantage point of 2019, but looking back, the 1980s were mostly great. And yeah, Glow is great.