Being able to binge-watch House of Cards, glued to the screen for mass periods of time, is definitely a treat that many viewers may prefer over the continual expected wait of a week-to-week series. Netflix seems to have a winning combination; a thrilling series that takes a complete poke at the political system at large, with a variety of satirical if not purposefully ridiculous quips at how our society is run today. While House of Cards is not the first series Netflix has unloaded with all of its episodes in any given season, it is getting flack for doing so by the critics at the LA Times.
A variety of Cable providers and partners cram many hours of marathon viewing on their networks based on syndication and high value properties for re-runs. A perfect example of this is The Big Bang Theory, Family Guy, Friends, Law & Order, among many others, that will generally earn a network higher ratings during various down periods. Even when placed against new episodes of a competing series on other networks, these marathons would require mass periods of time for viewers to be glued to any screen, but they work. Basic cable networks do it with such frequency that one can almost predict when a Law & Order marathon is upcoming. USA, TNT, and FX, are constantly using marathons of their syndicated programs. Premium cable providers like HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax sometimes marathon a previous season of their content prior to a new seasons premiere.
The fact is pretty simple, audiences love to absorb content “en masse”. People love to be glued to their screens for massively obscene periods of time to watch their favorite shows (again), or to finally sit down and catch up to what everyone in their circle is viewing and recommending. ‘House of Cards’, rather Netflix, is tapping into this binge-viewing social behavior; which is perceived as novel and available due to the advance of digital technology. Every network has always been able to do the same. Netflix is simply taking action to make fully available series (upon release) the next probable step in digital entertainment. Whether viewers continue to glue themselves for massive periods of time watching a series on Netflix, watching a box set on our Blu-ray players, or a marathon on a cable network. Americans will continue to binge-view shows like ‘House of Cards’ when it is all made available. Why? Because they can.
There are critics that will discount the edgy and gritty dark humor this political thriller is bringing to the small screen. Because it is a joke in-and-of-itself; a character that breaks the fourth wall to narrate his own megalomania, as he succeeds in manipulating his way into power? This is not a direct interpretation of our world, but a near satire of what it seems to be by the common observer. A horrid and sad half-truth of what our world may really be. Something completely untrue and fallacious is to discount this series as written poorly or that it can only work if watched in binges. The only true downside to the illusion of its immediate availability, is the same illusion and feeling that the wait for its successive season is further down the road then it really is. But one thing will rain true, people will still pine over the season ending and long-awaited return when all is watched, in one sitting.
Season 2 of House of Cards returned to Netflix on February 12 with 13 new episodes ready to glue viewers to their screens continuously (again) for mass periods of time. Series stars Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and Kate Mara return for more dark and thrilling political drama. How many will be binge-viewing this series a second time?
By Emanuel F. Camacho