Viewer’s Cut: How I stopped watching TV and learned to binge and skip

(Source: AMC)

(Source: AMC)

Spoilers not included.

I didn’t watch Breaking Bad while it was on. After hearing all the buzz surrounding the series for years, I decided to start watching it last weekend. It’s not the first time I do that. When I started watching Dexter, five seasons had already gone by. I got bored at around the fourth. Networks don’t want you to do that, they want you diligently expect the next episode, watch all the commercials, endlessly talk about it with your friends and get them hooked.

When I’m forced to watch a series because of buzz, I might end up liking it or not but I will usually wait until one season or two (or all of them) are done. Very often I hear that a series has a couple of seasons before it becomes good… or that it’s no good after the sixth or seventh season. The expression, “give it time” is heard often. I do. Just not all of it.

It annoys my friends to no end when I tell them that I’m not only binge-watching their favorite TV series… I’m (gasp) skipping the boring parts. Cue another rousing performance of the THERE ARE NO BORING PARTS hymn screamed at me in a very high pitch.

Watching a TV series is a matter of personal taste. Occasionally, and especially, when a series start slow, I will skip bits. A lot. If I find myself having to skip through half an episode, not a problem. I can read the summary that will undoubtedly show up at the beginning of the next episode. If it turns out there’s something that sounds worth my time, I’ll go back – but that happens close to zero amount of times. If I find myself skipping entire episodes I will stop watching altogether.

Eventually, if all characters become interesting or if even if the boring parts start making the good ones seem more engaging, I will start watching the whole thing at a regular pace. I’m starting the fourth season in Breaking Bad and now I’m watching every episode. Had I not skipped I would probably have quit by the first season. With Dexter it was the opposite. I was watching at a regular pace and suddenly I started skipping until I realize that I was done watching. Lost was spotty – there were some characters I just didn’t care for and some episodes that were kind of blah while others were brilliant. Had I not binged and skipped here and there I would’ve quit watching and missed some great TV moments.

Yes, there are series that I watch without skipping and even through the slow moments. They are engaging to me – I don’t presume to tell you what to watch. Series I’ve been able to watch without skipping are The Wire, Doctor Who, Luther, Sherlock, Game of Thrones to name a few. The Walking Dead is worth almost every minute but I had to skip the long conversations of Rick and Lori. To be honest, I don’t call it skipping anymore. I call it personal editing. It’s my own Viewer’s Cut… (yes, I said the title of the blog entry, drink up!).

I used to feel guilty about it. It’s not how the creators might want their series to be watched. So what? The cuts keep me interested and – I am the owner of my time. I don’t have to really watch the series at all, remember? Free time is always on limited supply. Think of all the times you’ve watched a bad movie and wanted your two hours back. Didn’t we always wish we had a skip button for those times? Now you do. Don’t be ashamed to use it.

That will do for now.

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