Binge Off: Television Shows vs. Movies

“The more intelligent the storytelling becomes and the deeper the character development, people will realize in film and television, like they do in real life, that human beings possess both good and bad.” — Robert LaSardo.

I am sure almost everyone knows a movie buff or two. However, in this day and age, the term movie buff has evolved to Netflix binge-watcher. Of the two categories, I would identify myself with the latter—Netflix binge-watcher. But, I am not a binge-watcher for the same reasons that most people are. In fact, I do not watch any movies on Netflix. I hardly ever watch movies, period. I prefer to watch a television show over a movie any day. Unlike movies, television shows provide true, authentic character development. Most movies are only about 90 minutes: a director only has 90 minutes to introduce characters, create a relationship, uncover a problem, and define a solution…all the while trying to maintain an audience’s attention. I don’t know about you, but that is way too much pressure to me.

Television series, on the other hand, can spend YEARS developing characters and telling a story. The writer in me gets so attached to television characters. It can almost seem like real life. In a series, audiences can see characters grow and change through hundreds, if not thousands, of events. Personally, television series are much like books to me. Every chapter in a book is much like an episode. Both offer a stronger understanding of mankind in some way, shape, or form.  I think a lot of people watch television and movies (media, in general) because they yearn for a human connection. They yearn to know they are not alone in the mountains and valleys of life. Most of all, people yearn to escape to a world that could be better.

There is something beautiful about watching someone or a group of people change and evolve over time from beginning to end. When I watch Netflix, I watch a series all the way through. Once I am attached to a character and their story, I am attached. You bet your bottom dollar I will be the devoted fan to the end. In a deeper sense, I like to look back and see how much I, too, have changed in the timefframe of watching a series. To me, a television show is successful if I can feel with the characters. Right now, I am watching “Friends” all the way through. I have seen bits and pieces of the series before, enough to know all the main plots. However, I have not watched them consecutively.  Let me tell you, I have already gotten emotional several times. Movies cannot provide that strong of a human connection. I can walk out of a theatre and be a little upset that the film is over. But, I am fine. The movie was only part of my life for a little over an hour. Television is not the same way. I already know for sure that I will cry when I watch the final episode of “Friends.” I will cry because I no longer get to witness great character development.

No matter who you are—a movie buff, a Netflix binge-watcher, a bookworm, or all the above—ask yourself why you devote time to what you do. Though some people might find Netflix and television to be pointless, nothing makes the writer in me giddier than an ongoing story of life and human growth. I challenge you, next time you watch a television show, focus on the character development. It does not have to be everyone; it could just be one character. Whether you watch an episode or the whole series, see what changes a character goes through, good and bad. If nothing else, television series provide great opportunity for discussion. Do not be afraid to ask yourself what you would do in a situation. You could learn a thing or about yourself in the process. Binge on, my friends. Binge on.

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