As soon as I heard the term “binge watcher” I knew I was one.
For over two months I’ve been bingeing on “Breaking Bad.” It’s not the crystal meth that gets me, (in fact, the show plays like a supremely smart anti-drug PSA), it’s the writing, the acting, the cinematography, the whole thing.
From the opening scene of the pilot I was hooked.
I recently looked at the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and substituted binge watching for binge eating and admittedly some symptoms fit. But not enough to warrant an intervention.
Still, there’s no denying that my husband and I have feverishly consumed — and been consumed by– “Breaking Bad.” We’ve watched Seasons 1-3 on Netflix in less than two months. This week we reached a crisis. Do we wait until Season 4 is available on Netflix in June or buy it off iTunes now? We couldn’t wait. So, 13 hi-def episodes and $34.99 later, we have our stash– like a binge eater has candy under the bed.
But it’s time to practice “portion control.” Because when Season 5 begins on AMC in the Summer we’ll be forced to be once-a-weekers. Bingeing will no longer be an option.
We know we can do this. We’ve survived before.
During the 2007 Writers’ Strike, we got hooked on “Battlestar Galactica.” At the time, a KCRW staff member owned the entire DVD set…and he became our dealer. But on a scale from Zero to the couple from this famous “Portlandia” sketch, we were only about a 6.
Because I produce The Business I hear a lot about how people consume content. For our current episode we interviewed filmmaker Eli Roth and Brian McGreevy, author of the gothic novel “Hemlock Grove,” about how they’re turning that book into a Netflix original series. It was in that conversation when I first heard the term “binge watch.” They said that Netflix has data on people like me and my husband and they talked about the “binge watcher” as if it were its own demographic.
Now Netflix has figured this demo into their business strategy. For every original series they produce they’ll make all the episodes available at once. Ripe for the bingeing.
But will that strategy work? I only knew to watch “Breaking Bad” and “Battlestar Galactica” because people I trusted had gotten into the shows when they were on TV. In that respect, the television run could almost been seen as an elaborate marketing campaign for the binge watcher.
So, when a series originates on Netflix, how will we know whether to binge or not to binge?
That is, until someone binges.
Darby Maloney is the Producer of KCRW’s The Business. @DarbyKCRW
Fellow bingers: the comment section below is a safe, non-judgmental (though not necessarily anonymous) place to share.