From Rachel Montpelier:
I am in the middle of viewing Season 2 of The Wire in another class and can’t help but wonder if my experience is different from those who watched it every week when it originally aired. While the first viewers probably expected resolutions for the characters during each season finale, my professor assures me that there is no actual resolution for the show until the series finale. This brings to me to the question, is marathoning the right way to watch television? Can we better understand the greater meaning in a series when it we watch it over a few weeks instead of a few years? Slate author Jim Pagels answers “no,” but I’ll explain why I disagree.
When I watch a whole series in short amount of time on Netflix I am much more apt to pick up on the small details of each episode. When I marathon a show, I find myself seeing patterns among the episodes and I notice when one episode echoes another. Marathoning a series, at least in my experience, is much more gratifying and attention-holding than watching individual episodes every week. For example, I keep forgetting that Ted’s soul mate on How I Met Your Mother has a yellow umbrella. If I marathoned the episodes instead of watching one at a time, that detail probably would be cemented in my brain by now.
Also, it seems that marathoning inspires viewers to watch a whole series, while they might give up on watching another show live after a few seasons. If viewers had seen all the episodes in a block instead of individually, they might have stuck with the series and had been able to see the overarching theme. It’s my opinion that marathoning can help us really understand a whole series, instead of only understanding a whole episode.