Photo: Courtesy of Netflix
Giving audiences some time to digest what they've seen — and go on the journey along with other fans — might be what we need for a more satisfying viewing experience.
Netflix and streaming services like it have done wonderful things for storytelling: They've challenged conventional episode lengths, story structures, and genres. But one thing I wish they would borrow from broadcast networks is the idea of releasing episodes, if not one at a time, at least not all at once. Giving audiences some time to digest what they've seen — and go on the journey along with other fans — might be what we need for a more satisfying viewing experience.
Streaming has made television feel a lot, well, lonelier. It's left us to hole up in our rooms rather than have weekly watching sessions. It's stopped us from texting friends during an episode to rant about a surprising hookup or insane twist. It's made conversation about what we're watching a little harder to have.
Let's not forget the beauty of watching an OMG TV moment live. Marissa Cooper's (Mischa Barton) death on The O.C.? My teenage brain could simply not process without frantically discussing the future of the show with friends. American Horror Story's first (and most surprising) season revealing that Violet (Taissa Farmiga) is dead for episodes without knowing it? A true mind-bender — and one that begged to be analyzed with fellow viewers, lest a single clue to her true nature be missed. And, honestly, who didn't text their friends in a blind rage when they learned that Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley) went by the moniker "GG" in addition to "Lonely Boy"? I certainly wouldn't have wanted to brave that storm solo.
As much as I loved the weekends I spent binging BoJack Horseman (come back to me soon, old friend), I'd gladly take a breather between episodes if the entire world got to gather together on the same TV page.
And no, I'm not just writing this because my sister spoiled the ending of The OA for me. (But really, Alison? Really?)