Are Series Releases Encouraging Impatience in Society?

In this era of ever-developing technology, most homes now enjoy at least one TV streaming option such as Netflix, Firestick, Sky etc.  We ask “Are series releases actually making us more impatient and lazy?”. Some might say that we are able to relax easier by watching some tv rather than rushing around doing chores or procrastinating on facebook.

You’re probably no stranger to the temptations of Netflix. You have ten seconds to decide whether or not to watch the next episode, and by the time you’ve made your decision, it’s already playing. Might as well watch it now, right? And over there is the big pile of work you still have to get done. Or maybe you’re watching it after your work, and if you are, well done on making it through without watching anything. But still, it’s probably late, and that next episode will make it half an hour later.

You’re also very familiar to the feeling of frustration that you get every time you finish a series. That sinking feeling when you realise you binge-watched all the episodes ad wasted a lot of time.

But when it’s an episodic release, that sinking feeling is pushed further away. However, it can be frustrating and annoying when you have to wait another week for the next episode, especially when it’s been left on a cliff-hanger. And those all-annoying series breaks, that maybe make you wait two weeks, three weeks, or a month.

But what really are those feelings? Are they frustration? Probably a lot of frustration is in there, but there’s most likely impatience mixed in with it. You need to watch the next episode NOW. And that’s a result of whole series being put on there. You can watch them whenever you want. They’re all there, just a click away. No waiting. No nail-biting tension when you have to wait another week. It’s all ready for you, at your fingertips.

But when it is released episodically, is that actually making the show better? Let’s go back to the binge-watching for a minute.

You’ve most likely binge-watched something before. Who hasn’t? You have some time on your hands – or it’s just a really good show. But is binge-watching making the show worse? Part of the episodic release is that you actually have to wait. You have to spend a whole week impatiently waiting for the answer to the cliff-hanger, a resolution to the enigma. But when you have all the episodes there, it ruins that. You have to wait a grand total of ten seconds before finding everything out. It trashes the excitement of the show.

Let’s think about the laziness. Are series releases actually encouraging (probably unintentionally) laziness and lack of productivity? If all the episodes are there, you probably don’t have enough self-control to only watch one. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have a lazy day, or if you couldn’t stop yourself from watching 10 episodes (oops). But most episodes nowadays are longer. The average episode is 30-40 minutes. Let’s say you watched 3 episodes, each being 30 minutes long. Only 3 episodes? You’re pretty proud that you managed to have control over yourself and only watch 3. But 3 episodes at that length is 1 and a half hours gone from the day.

Or say you watched 6. Not bad, not bad. 3 hours gone from your day by only watching 6 episodes.

But then there’s those hour long episodes. You felt lazy, so you watched 6. That’s an average school day gone.

This has a big impact on teens and young adults, particularly in the age group of 12-18. You most likely have Netflix on your phone, laptop, gaming console, TV, whatever. And you watch an episode with the idea in your mind that you’re going to watch an episode, and get on with your homework straight after. But then you watch another. And another. And another, and before you know it, the whole evening’s gone and you’ve done no work. Everyone does it, and it’s almost sad that it’s actually become a part of daily life to say “Oh yeah, I haven’t done that yet because I accidentally binge watched 12 episodes.” That’s considered a normality.

Shows like Shadowhunters or Riverdale on Netflix do weekly episodic releases. This actually makes the show better, because it emphasises the tension and excitement. However, some series just dump them all on Netflix.

Another thing to think about is the fact that episodic releases could actually increase socialization. If the whole series is on there, your friend may have watched 3 and you might have watched 8. This limits the conversation – a lot of the time you’re not sure whether they’ve seen this or not, whether you’ll spoil this, that or the other. But when one episode is released, you and your friends can talk about it without the fear of spoiling, but also talk in greater detail. You could talk about that cute moment, that jump scare, that weird thing so and so did. You could discuss through theories you have if you’ve both watched the same episodes. If they’ve watched three and you’ve watched 8, their theory might be disproved in a later episode. But they don’t know that, and you can’t tell them that because it would spoil the show. It’s almost like you share the excitement together.

It also can help you think in greater detail. One person might’ve thought of something you hadn’t and you can understand the show more and realise sub-plots or hidden meanings.

Imagine if the Great British Bakeoff had been put on as a series release. All anyone talks about between the episodes is the Bakeoff. If someone had watched all the episodes they could just spoil it. They could watch it all in one night and ruin the tension.

Episodic releases increase productivity, reduce laziness and decrease impatience by making you wait for the episode. This also means you can’t just watch 6 – you can watch 1 and that’s it. You have to do some work, get some sleep, get up or actually get something done.

Before smartphones, if you wanted to know something your parents didn’t know you had to get a book, go to the library or asked a teacher. But now you can just whip out your smartphone and type it into the google search box. It’s the same on Netflix. You can have it all there, and don’t have to wait for a single thing.

It’s almost a reflection of society. Nowadays everyone wants everything now, now, now. They’re not prepared to wait for anything. Series releases are almost feeding into that – encouraging the impatience of society.

About Carol Lopez