Binge-watching has changed the landscape of TV. With Netflix and other streaming services offering the entire season of TV shows all at once, audiences are spending whole weekends absorbing hours of programming without even thinking about it. Gone are the days of watching a single episode of “Lost” and spending a week discussing all the clues and trying to figure out what’s going to happen next. There’s perhaps no one more qualified to talk about this phenomenon than Joss Whedon.

Long before he became the blockbuster director of the first two “Avengers” films, Whedon was a TV guy. “Dollhouse,” “Angel,” “Firefly,” and of course, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” are just some of the shows that Whedon created during the late-90s to early 2000s. But now with streaming services changing how people consume TV series, what does Joss think of the trend?

During a recent interview with THR about the 20th anniversary of ‘Buffy,’ Joss spoke about the new paradigm:

“For you to have six, 10, 13 hours and not have a moment for people to breath and take away what we’ve done … to just go, ‘Oh, this is just part seven of 10,’ it makes it amorphous emotionally. And I worry about that in our culture — the all-access all the time…The more we make things granular and less complete, the more it becomes lifestyle instead of experience. It becomes ambient. It loses its power, and we lose something with it. We lose our understanding of narrative. Which is what we come to television for. We come to see the resolve. I’m fond of referencing it, but it’s ‘Angela Lansbury finds the murderer.’ It’s becoming a little harder to hold on to that. Binge-watching, god knows I’ve done it, it’s exhausting — but it can be delightful. It’s not the devil. But I worry about it. It’s part of a greater whole.”

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Judging by this explanation, it’s not that Joss hates binge-watching per se, it’s more that he hates the way serializing TV series has made episodic TV obsolete. No longer do we have shows that tell complete stories each episode, they’re just parts of a whole. One of the major criticisms for Netflix series are that the length of a season, normally around 13 episodes, leads to stories being dragged out to “fill time.” So maybe Whedon is onto something.

Does this mean we won’t ever get to see Whedon unleash his TV powers with Netflix’s creative freedom? Never say never. “Obviously Netflix is turning out a ton of extraordinary stuff. And if they came to me and said, ‘Here’s all the money! Do the thing you love!’ I’d say, ‘You could release it however you want. Bye.’ If that’s how people want it, I’d still work just as hard. I’ll adapt,” said Whedon.

Whedonverse fans, there’s still hope for a new series to obsess over! [via AV Club]

  • Josh King

    I’ve noticed no significant difference in series I’ve binge watched, watched traditionally or a bit of each. I can still be completely invested.

  • LA2000

    As commercial television tries to compete with streaming and premium by launching their own edgy serials, the problem with “dragged out” filler storylines is becoming starkly apparent. Most serials can’t sustain 5 seasons of 22 episodes per season at 43 minutes of program per episode without resorting to total ridiculousness. Even quality broadcast serials like “Parenthood” or “Friday Night Lights” have to resort to a minimum of two 3-page “heart-to-heart” conversations per episode to burn time to keep the series from hopping on the “evil twin” crazy train. My personal opinion is that most shows would be better served by half season orders of 30 minutes of program per. Many premium and streaming outlets already do this, but its a problem for legacy networks and commercial cable because 30 minutes of program would require a switch to 45 minute programming slots, instead of the current 30 minute/60 minute slots.