It enables us to watch a huge array of shows spanning across an unimaginable number of genres on all of our devices, and even matching us with recommendations based on our viewing history. It is the ultimate saviour when our TV guides are looking dry. Having said that, it has also instilled binge-watching into our culture, a concept that I personally find rather problematic for the industry. My reason for this is that it has made TV shows less like works of art to savour, and more like disposable goods.
Instead of having to wait days or weeks for new instalments like when a series is released on a normal TV channel, which gives us time to process, anticipate and discuss every episode, Netflix provides us with entire seasons all at once. That pesky ‘Next Episode’ button means that we are skipping the period of reflection that allows us to really get the most out of a series and to absorb each subtle nuance.
It is the epitome of Netflix’s destructive habit of turning the TV experience into a race
What’s more, binge-watching culture has also transformed TV shows into something to collect, like achievements on a video game. We are so focussed on getting through as many titles as humanly possible that we begin to lose focus on what we are actually watching, almost becoming impatient to get it over with instead of enjoying each moment. Suddenly, we begin to find ourselves so deep in Netflix’s catalogue that we can’t even remember what happened in shows that we’ve supposedly watched.
This is exactly why I am so against the platform’s new feature, which allows viewers to speed up what they are watching to enable a shorter viewing time. It is the epitome of Netflix’s destructive habit of turning the TV experience into a race, not to mention its distortion of the timing that oftentimes makes or breaks an episode: think of all the punchlines, suspenseful moments, heartfelt encounters and jump scares that would completely lose their effect if sped up.
I appreciate how beneficial this tool could be for those always on the go who wish to squeeze in some viewing into the little down time that they have, however, for me, TV is all about escapism and relaxation, which are processes that cannot be rushed.
Featured image: Featured image: Pxhere, Needpix