After my crazy Breaking Bad binge back in December I vowed to only marathon shows that were either over or had only aired 1-2 seasons. Thankfully that meant that Game of Thrones was fair game.
Twenty episodes seemed like nothing, and even better yet I really didn’t know anything about the series (I’m clearly not a spoiler-phobe, but it is nice to be surprised). And surprised I was. Game of Thrones isn’t typically a show I would be inclined to seek out on my own, but it’s rich world and intriguing characters quickly sucked me in.
And for me that is the biggest indicator of whether or not I’m in for the long haul. If I care about the characters then I’m willing to ride out stupid plot lines, if and when they appear: Friday Night Lights season two murder, Buffy’s stint at the Doublemeat Palace, Lorelai and Christopher getting married on Gilmore Girls, etc…
But anyone who has seen or read Game of Thrones already knows how badass the series is and its many characters, so there is really no need to dwell on that fact. What I want to talk about is the actual act of watching – marathoning versus week to week.
Usually 20 episodes would be a breeze, especially since I started to marathon the series in the beginning of March; however, real life got in the way and I ended up watching the entire second season over the holiday weekend. I finished with just about four hours to spare before the season 3 premier.
After so quickly consuming 11 episodes of Game of Thrones I had to admit I was bummed when the end credits rolled and a preview aired. I didn’t want to wait 7 days to see more. With so many characters and plot lines, its not possible for the series to serve everyone in every episode, and they shouldn’t try to, but now that I’m all caught up I can’t just hit play on the next episode to get my Game of Thrones fix.
Marathoning or binge watching is great, its like the equivalent of reading a really good book and not putting it down until you’ve turned the last page, but in a medium like television where the story is parsed out over time there is also a benefit to the slow and steady method.
After all, marathoning is a rather time consuming proposition, once a week is much more manageable. Plus, for someone like myself who enjoys talking TV and dissecting it, a quick binge session doesn’t really lend itself to discussion or reflection, unless you’ve got a partner in crime.
Appointment viewing might be an antiquated idea, but for TV shows with a lot of social media activity (The Walking Dead, Pretty Little Liars, reality competitions) there aren’t many other options for the well connected viewer. If I don’t watch certain shows live I am almost certain to know about any major plot points before I actually have a chance to watch, thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and other entertainment sites I frequent.
With the “second screen” fueling the social TV phenomenon and still taking the “water cooler” effect into account, a decent argument remains for live viewing despite the obvious perks of marathoning. I know I can’t just wait around for all of my favorite shows to become available on Netflix. I don’t want to miss out on the conversations at work or the chance to see the next chapter of a story I am invested in as soon as possible.
Which is why I look forward to watching the new season of Game of Thrones each Sunday night, and tweeting while I do so. But perhaps that’s just me, how do you prefer to watch TV? All at once or one at a time?