A case against binge-watching TV.

By Gloria Hong

A few weekends ago, I had a terrible dilemma. A good friend invited me over to watch the Mad Men premier at his house. Historically, this would be a no brainer “yes”. We have had Mad Men viewing nights for years. In the beginning we dressed up in theme, brought 1950’s appropriate appetizers and took a drink of CC every time Don Draper did on screen. Over the years, the costumes fell to the wayside but the cocktails remained.  But this year, there was a conflict. I chose to stay home to watch Game of Thrones (he does not have HBO).  When I explained my choice, I got back an encouraging message: “No worries, we live in rich times!”

My commitment to staying home to watch Game of Thrones (and Mad Men) is part of my bigger commitment to watching these shows week-by-week as they air. And here’s why.

Beyond the great stories, acting and photography of my weekly shows, I love the ritual of watching them as they air.

  • The pre-show chatter – What do you think is going to happen? Do you think they’ll resolve this plot point? Who is the Yellow King?
  • Watching (with others when possible) – Themed viewing parties, Did you just see that? Did he just do that? Where can I get a “Big Hug Mug”?
  • The post-show chatter – episode recaps, plot theories, memes, fan fiction

As mentioned on a recent Hollywood Prospectus podcast recapping the finale of True Detective, it’s this chatter that is the helium for television shows – it lifts the show beyond just television into the zeitgeist of popular culture. HBO and AMC are great expamples of staying relevant by committing to the “content is king” philosophy.  They still fit the traditional prime time framework of cable TV, but prioritize great content that keeps people chatting at the water cooler every week. 

My current must see week-by-week list includes:

  • Game of Thrones
  • Mad Men
  • Hannibal
  • Orphan Black
  • True Detective

Let me know what your must-watch-weekly shows are!