It is amazing how quickly the internet has changed the world. Why, but a paltry few … ish years ago, I would tune in every week to watch the newest episode of whatever television show was popular that season. Nowadays, I watch all my television shows on my laptop. I do know people who still use their television monitors, but that is because they are streaming shows from their iPad. With the rise of streaming and binge-watching becoming a socially acceptable trend rather than a bad habit, it was only a matter of time before Netflix and similar service began releasing not only the shows of yesteryear but their own original content in full season batches. So whether you are old enough to remember what VHS stands for, or young enough to know too many acronyms already, settle into that desk chair that is more comfortable than your living room sofa, and let’s take a look at the pros and cons of full seasons released at once.
There Is No Pilot Episode
A fraction of scripts get turned into pilots, and a fraction of those pilots become full series. Pilot episodes are make or break for most shows, and with all the resources that get used up just to make episode one perfect, it can have a negative effect on the rest of the season. This is not an issue with full season releases. According to Jessica Jones showrunner Melissa Rosenberg: “That’s the beauty of working with Netflix. It’s 13 episodes. There’s no pilot and then getting feedback, reaction, and ratings. You’re in this bubble. So, what’s the story you want to tell?”
At the risk of sounding like the only shows I am familiar with belong to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Daredevil and Jessica Jones both enjoy a great advantage over the movies and the ABC series. They have the length of an entire season to tell a story without needing each episode to stand by itself to keep viewers coming back each week. Characters can just talk to each other for thirty minutes or more, allowing for more complex narrative arcs than basically anywhere else in Marvel’s canon.
Spoilers Are Less Of A Thing
It used to be if you wanted to watch an entire series in one go, it meant spending a few months of the year with your eyes covered and your ears plugged. Not anymore! You can watch all of House of Cards in one go.
There Is Less To Talk About
Hulu released The Mindy Project one episode at a time, ostensibly to bring back the world of the water cooler, which stems from the idea that the morning after an episode of a hot show airs, coworkers will chat about it on a quick water break. While the accuracy of this reasoning is debatable, it cannot be argued that, when an entire series can be consumed the day after it comes out, people are going to be talking about it that much less. I remember fondly the discussions between episodes of Breaking Bad. Now it feels like we all just shoot off a few tweets and that is the end of it.
Too Much At Once
You are going to miss important plot details, jokes, and dramatic moments if you just keep watching episode after episode after episode. You will lose track of who is who and what is going on, the deluge of input will overwhelm you, and as entertaining as these shows can be, your attention span will get the better of you eventually. Instead of watching, you will be looking at your smartphone, trying to find what else Charlie Cox has been in. Boardwalk Empire, for one.
Spoilers Are Still A Thing
So your friend had a day off work, watched every new episode of Orange is the New Black, and is now dying to talk about it. Better hope they are going to wait for you catch up.
(They are not going to wait for you catch up.)