Self control, reflection and binge watching House of Cards’ Season 2

Like many others, I am happy for a new season of House of Cards. The show has the perfect blend of style, storytelling, plot and politics. With all 12 episodes released at once (on Valentine’s Day), how much can we really enjoy the season?

Watching blocks of four or five episodes at a time, viewers don’t have the time to comprehend and question what it happening, as they would if episodes were released one a week, or even one day at a time. It is one binge after another.

On Friday night a friend and I watched four episodes. We took 20 to 30 minute breaks between each one: grabbed a beer, discussed what we saw and what could happen next. This quasi water cooler conversation,” I found, made enjoying the show much more enjoyable, much more than watching four episodes in a row.

This to be true for other shows. When I first started getting into this new generation of TV, it was with Six Feet Under” and The Wire” on HBO. Each week there was a new episode and after, a 30 second preview of what was coming next week.

I thought a lot about the episode and the preview in the following days. I guessed where the writers would take the story next. This time spent thinking let me know the story and characters. And when the new episode was released the next week, I found it incredibly enjoyable: how correct was I in my predictions? And the year-long breaks for seasons only exemplified that.

The breaks let the shows breath.

So, should House of Cards” and other episodic stories be released at once, or should we treat it like a 12-hour movie?

I would like former.

Will I take things slow with the second season of House of Cards”?

I would like to, but it will be hard with only 9 episodes left in the Netflix queue and a full weekend….

Update Feb. 16: What happened? I binged watched episodes all day yesterday (when I was supposed to be packing). It’s hard to not watch when they are all laid out.

As my good friend Alex Smith of mine posted on Facebook this morning in response to this article:

I very much like the idea of a 1 episode per day distribution plan: simulated water cooler helps one comprehend a story’s unfolding plot & characterization.

However I don’t approach House of Cards (US) as a television series but as a 12-14 hour theatrical production. I imported this attitude, as HoC was imported from the UK original that foregrounded the Shakespearean dimension.


February 15, 2014