Feeling the Glow of a Netflix Binge

glow1.jpgIts 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.


5 thoughts on “Feeling the Glow of a Netflix Binge

  1. Alastair Savage

    I loved Glow too! It really brought back those mid-80s days.
    It’s interesting to binge-watch an older series too, which I did a while back with the original Twin Peaks. When you do it with shows that were designed to be watched once a week, you really notice how repetitive the older shows are, especially with the music. With Twin Peaks, it’s also completely obvious who killed Laura Palmer when you watch the episodes one after the other, rather than in weekly installments never to be repeated.

    1. I keep meaning to rewatch both the original (which I haven’t seen since first broadcast) and the new Twin Peaks. You raise an interesting point regards the weekly drip feed of the original show (and even the new one, now that I think about it) and what it might be like watching two or more episodes a night over a few weeks- I think some of the arcs and mystery sub-plots would be improved and it’d be easier to pick up on hints and clues; or too easy, as you say..

      Its a funny thing, I have bought so many tv shows that I loved on dvd/Blu-ray box-sets to rewatch and I never do. I’m too distracted by all the new stuff (and lets face it, this is certainly a Golden Age for television). I’d love to rewatch all of Game of Thrones before the final series airs in April but I doubt I’ll manage it.

      1. Alastair Savage

        Actually I usually watch the previous version of GoT just before the latest one starts. It’s handy to remember who’s doing what. Although now almost all my favourite characters have perished …

  2. I can’t stand the next episode autoplay thing, which every streaming service has copied now. I get why it exists — to keep you from wandering off to anything else, ever — but I lack to digest what I’ve just seen, even if I fully intend to watch the next episode immediately. But at least you can turn that feature off, unlike the way they minimising the credits into a little box, or autoplay trailers at you whenever you browse onto something. I really wish they’d make that stuff more customisable. Fine, leave it on by default, but it doesn’t do more to keep me engaged, it drives me away!

  3. Pingback: The 2019 list – the ghost of 82

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