Netflix encourages binge watching by bringing subscribers thousands of movies and shows


Photo: Riley Smith

As Netflix grows in popularity, so does the desire to binge watch. Inspired by my Netflix marathon, my sister sits on our couch, surrounded by food, preparing to do some serious binge watching.

I like watching live TV as much as the next guy, but to be completely honest, I hate commercials. I hate when the ads come on and they are the exact same four ads that the network played during the last commercial break. It’s even worse when you’re watching a movie: just as the plot finally reaches its climax, the network cuts off the program and switches to a commercial about soap.

Naturally, one of the best solutions for this problem is to switch from live TV to streaming Netflix, whether it’s through accessing the internet on a laptop or using the mobile app on phones, tablets and TVs.

For only $8 a month, Netflix subscribers have access to an incredible number of movies, TV shows and documentaries. Netflix features everything from serious movies like The Iron Lady to comedies like The Interview. Netflix even produces some “homegrown” TV shows (some of which recently killed it at the Golden Globe Awards). Among these shows are Arrested Development, Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. Netflix also offers almost every other TV show under the sun, whether it’s current or from the ’60s.

One of the many reasons that people subscribe to Netflix is to partake in a great rite of passage: binge watching. According to the Oxford Dictionary, to binge watch is to “watch multiple episodes of (a television program) in rapid succession, typically by means of DVDs or digital streaming.” For many Netflix fans, this often means rewatching every season of — insert favorite show here — because the new season hasn’t started yet but they still need their fix.

In order to understand why everyone is so obsessed with binge watching, I figured that it was finally my turn to binge watch.

To prepare for my journey, I first changed into my battle gear (or pajamas). Then, I gathered my supplies: a big nasty bowl of Goldfish, a large glass of iced tea, and a bag of freshly popped popcorn. These would sustain me through my battle.

My opponent: Doctor Who. As many people know, Netflix can be a double-edged sword. Every so often, the company has to cut material from its database to have room to add new material; there have been rumors spreading recently that Dr. Who is being Chopped (however, they seemed to have stopped circulating and Dr. Who will remain on Netflix). Since I’m really behind in watching the show and Netflix might be nixing it, I figured that this was the perfect time to watch every last episode.

Now, if you’ve never seen an episode of or heard of Dr. Who, here’s my quick pitch. It’s a show about a man called the Doctor. He’s an alien from the planet Gallifrey who has the ability to travel through time and space in his big blue police box called the TARDIS — or Time and Relative Dimension in Space — and he often travels with companions from England. The show is full of action and adventure but also contains love and friendship. This show does everything: it makes you laugh, cry, cringe and rally for the Doctor and his lovable companions.

That being said, I also want to include that it is a science-fiction show known for pretty cheesy effects. It’s not your brand-new IMAX movie that looks more realistic than real life. The special effects are kind of crappy, but it by no means takes away from the integrity of the show. There are still plenty of gross aliens and awe-inspiring spaceships. It can be quite a creepy and gross show at times, so stay away if you have a weak stomach.

Now, back to the binging. There is something to be said about binge watching. It really requires your full attention. In fact, it demands it. Somehow, you find yourself glued to whatever screen (in my case, my laptop) that you’re watching Netflix on. Yeah, you may run out of food after a while and maybe you need to go to the bathroom and then your leg cramps. But you are absolutely sucked into whatever you’ve chosen to watch.

Then there’s also the fact that unlike some shows like The Office or Parks and Recreation, Dr. Who is a really long show. In the time it takes to watch one episode of Dr. Who, I could watch anywhere from three to five episodes of Parks and Recreation. Crazy, right? Some of the episodes end on cliffhangers, too: I had just decided to get up and take a break after one more episode, and then it stopped on an absolutely painful cliffhanger. I couldn’t stop there! So I ended up seeing the next episode, and then that one ended in a cliffhanger, too! It seemed like I just couldn’t catch a break.

Eventually I did get up at a few key points to refill on supplies and get comfortable again, getting blankets, too, because I was starting to feel cold from sitting on the same spot on the couch for a couple of hours. I also had to move to sit by the window, because my computer was dying and I had to plug it into the power cord, and our only outlet in the living room is right there.

When I was fully resupplied, I return to my battle position. I had started this marathon bright and early at 10 a.m. Almost three hours and four episodes later, I was only a quarter of the way through season one! I saw no end to the madness, knowing full well that I still had six more seasons after that, each ranging anywhere from a dozen to 20 episodes with each episode being 45 minutes to an hour or more.

Doesn’t this sound tiring? And yet I was so pumped and incredibly motivated to watch as much Dr. Who as I could! With the whole weekend to myself — no plans and no homework — I felt like I needed to get as close to being caught up as I could.

Since I had the whole weekend, I only really stopped for a quick dinner with my family. They asked about the show, but they didn’t really understand any of my struggles and pain, even though they had each seen a few episodes already.

It seemed really crazy to me, but I needed the full experience of binge watching, so after my dinner and a quick shower, I continued watching Dr. Who until I cashed out around 1 o’clock in the morning. I had told myself that I could do it, that I could stay up for more than 24 hours (15 isn’t bad, though), but by then I had seen so much that I needed to stop and process everything. I needed to shed some tears, remember my doctor with love, and get serious about season two.

I then re-started my marathon at about 10 a.m. on Sunday. I had slept for about nine hours, and it was time to get back in the TARDIS and traverse the universe with the Doctor. I put on some sweat pants and comfy clothes, and gathered as many snacks as we had left in the house (which were not many). I pulled out my computer and hit “play.”

Fast forward to about 7 p.m. Sunday night. I had finally finished about 30 episodes of Dr. Who. I was only barely into series three out of eight seasons. As I sat there amazed at just how much I had been through, I tore myself from my spot on the couch, pulled the curtains open, and joined the living.

So, if you’re ever thinking “I’m really behind on this show” or “I really want to start watching a new show,” binge watching is the way to go. It’s oddly exhausting, but you really watch so much TV during those hours that you put in. It was totally worth it when I had nothing better to do than start and catch up on one of my new favorite shows.

I always feel like I don’t get much done on the weekends; last weekend, however, I officially fell in love with the Doctor through the art of binge watching. If you’ve never had the privilege of watching BBC but you are fortunate enough to have Netflix and you’re not busy this weekend, I suggest you put on your battle gear because the Doctor is waiting for you.