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Why Joss Whedon thinks binge-watching is a bad thing for TV

Contributed by
Mar 13, 2017

Between Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon has created some of the most iconic TV shows of the modern era. But it turns out he's not a fan of the changing way we actually watch them.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Whedon touches on how binge-watching has changed the way we digest and consume television in a way that he doesn't think is conducive to the art of the medium. And, yeah, he has a pretty good point. By tossing an entire show out there at once, Whedon argues you lose the ability to really focus on any one hour of television while an entire season might start to run together and not have enough room to breathe creatively.

Here's an excerpt from his comments:

"I would not want to do it. I would want people to come back every week and have the experience of watching something at the same time. We released Doctor Horrible in three acts. We did that, in part, because I grew up watching miniseries like Lonesome Dove. I loved event television. And as it was falling by the wayside, I thought, 'Let's do it on the internet!' Over the course of that week, the conversation about the show changed and changed. That was exciting to watch. Obviously Netflix is turning out a ton of extraordinary stuff. And if they came to me and said, 'Here's all the money! Do the thing you love!' I'd say, 'You could release it however you want. Bye.'

"But my preference is more old-school. Anything we can grab on to that makes something specific, a specific episode, it's useful for the audience. And it's useful for the writers, too. 'This is what we're talking about this week!’ For you to have six, 10, 13 hours and not have a moment for people to breath and take away what we've done … to just go, 'Oh, this is just part seven of 10,' it makes it amorphous emotionally. And I worry about that in our culture — the all-access all the time. Having said that, if that's how people want it, I'd still work just as hard. I'll adapt."

It's hard to argue with Whedon's logic, and he's right — when you consume 8-10 hours of something at once, it is a whole lot harder to appreciate it. It almost feels like you're scarfing it down as quickly as possible to try to avoid spoilers on Twitter. You also start to lose the shared cultural experience of watching something all at the same time, and it becomes more fractured if everyone is just watching alone at any time.

What do you think? Is Whedon on to something?

(via The Hollywood Reporter)