Charlotte Brunsdon differentiates between addiction to television and binge-watching. What I find interesting about this is that, whereas with (real) addiction, addicts often get high together, making it a social activity of sorts, bingeing when used in the context of an actual affliction (such as with an eating disorder) is a very solitary experience—not only because the person is ashamed and embarrassed, but it’s also awkward to do with someone else. This idea fits with “To binge on television dramas is to abandon aspiration, to be stuck on the sofa in the living room” (66)–because that sounds like a pretty solitary experience to me. And perhaps there are people who are a bit embarrassed that they’ve spent twelve hours watching an entire season of a series in two days.
Anyway, my main point in mentioning this has to do with the fact that Brunsdon uses The Wire as her main example, and that we watched The Wire for class. I have already done my bingeing on The Wire and it took me almost a year to get through all of the seasons—not because I wasn’t committed to the bingeing—no, I was totally down to stay up for ten hours to finish a season—but because I watched it with my dad (so we had to find common time to watch). I didn’t think anything of it, because we often do that as father-daughter “fun time”—binge on premium channel series (totally normal! right?). I never thought that bingeing for most was a private thing, but it is rare to find someone else who can dedicate the time to watching that many hours of a show—and is willing to put up with the same person for that long (and, let me tell you, I am no picnic to watch dramas with and was therefore grateful to have my dad with me). Having to re-watch The Wire alone, for this class, was a completely new experience. The first time around, I had to pause the show almost every ten minutes to figure out what was going on and who was who. Once I figured that out, I then tried to figure out what was going to happen for the rest of the season (my dad would do the same–he was always more correct than I was). And Brunsdon mentions how The Wire is specifically an experience to binge on, because sometimes the drama would get too intense and it would be a relief to stop (69). This was absolutely the case when I watched it and I would get so incredibly anxious and wrapped up in the story that I would ask countless questions about the well-being of the characters—which my father had no way of knowing, but still put up with it. My reason for getting all “story-time” here is that watching it again, alone (even though I know everything now, but it’s still been a while so it’s like a refresher course–so some things are still new-ish), I missed the experience of having someone to talk things out with. I would get anxious and then irritated that there was no one around to feel my pain, or someone to tell me what other shows or films Idris Elba has been in so I had to go look it back up on imdb (The Office—this was the specific appearance I was thinking of…among other things).
I think bingeing is a lot better to do if you have someone else who is willing to make an equal investment in the show—because with bingeing, you get so wrapped up in things, you want to discuss them (at least I do). So I wonder if there is a huge difference between bingeing alone and with someone else? Because even if you binge watch with someone, then re-watch alone, the excitement of watching it the first time is gone the second time around. So I just wonder if having someone else there has a big impact on the first-time binge-watching experience.