Is the model for streaming TV evolving beyond the binge? Maybe. Otherwise, it’s a little hard to grasp the reasoning behind Netflix’s apparent reluctance to encourage its gazillion subscribers to binge watch its shows. After all, the red letter streaming giant all but invented the binge-watching concept for the digital TV era in the first place.
But, according to Guy Pearce, who plays Dr. Ben Halvorson on Netflix’s The Innocents, “binge” is reportedly among the no-no words that won't show up on Netflix’s list of talking points when rolling out Pearce and other stars to greet the public.
In a recent podcast interview with Empire, the Australian actor — known for a decades-long, prolific film career with genre highlights including Memento, Prometheus, Iron Man 3, and now Netflix’s The Innocents — said Netflix “strictly” instructed the cast of The Innocents not to use the term “binge” when talking about the show to the media.
“I don’t think Netflix likes the term ‘binge,'” he said. “When we did the promotion for [The Innocents] in the [U.S.], we were strictly sort of instructed beforehand not to talk about binge watching.”
Without additional explanation from Pearce, it’s tough to speculate about why that might be. But the star of one now-canceled Netflix show, comedian and former Community star Joel McHale, alluded to the difficulties Netflix might be facing in getting viewers to consume its programming in ways that don’t involve entire pajama-wearing weekends lost to pizza, closed drapes, and Stranger Things.
“Obviously Netflix has trained their audience to binge watch, and we actually tried that, as well,” McHale told a SiriusXM interviewer, via Variety. “But so far people aren’t watching Netflix that way.” In McHale’s case, Netflix tried both approaches, releasing new episodes of his The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale once a week during its first “season,” before mixing up the formula by dropping a second batch of episodes all at once.
Alongside McHale’s show, Netflix also recently canceled comedy talk shows from Michelle Wolf and Chelsea Handler — all celebrities with name brands that’ve historically drawn viewers on traditional platforms.
While Netflix grapples with whether to leave its binge-able reputation behind, it’s still totally up to viewers how they want to watch. If binging’s your thing, all eight Season 1 episodes of Pearce’s The Innocents — a show about a girl with supernatural powers that attract deadly interest from nefarious grown-ups — have been available for your next Netflix marathon since debuting on the service Aug. 24.