11:00 am EST, January 15, 2016

The pros and cons of binge-watching old fan-favorite shows

The idea of binge-watching TV shows is one of the best things to ever happen to the world. Honestly. It’s hard to imagine life without it.

Miss out on a TV show when it was first on the air? Binge it! Wanted to wait to watch a show until all of the episodes were available to you? Binge it! Netflix now has all of the seasons and episodes of your favorite show that you haven’t seen in a while? Definitely binge that!

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With binging old shows, however, comes a whole new set of things to consider. Pros and cons, if you will. Especially when it comes to binge-watching old fan-favorite shows (which we’re defining here as TV shows that have been off the air for a while that everyone loves).

Sure, binge-watching TV shows is great. It’s addictive. But there are a few downsides to binge-watching that we should all mull over before hitting the “Play next episode” button on Netflix.

(Naturally, the “pros” outweigh the “cons” [most of the time], but all of these points are still something to consider.)

Pros to binge-watching old fan-favorites

You’re watching pop culture gold

Veronica Mars camera

What greater “pro” is there? You’re watching a television show that thousands (if not millions) before you have given a gold star to. You’ll not only be taking in all of the great storylines and characters of the classic show, but you’ll also be able to finally understand what all of the hype is about. You’ll also be able to zero in on what makes this show so likable and, better yet, figure out what you love most about the show.

You have the reassurance that you’re spending your time on something quality

Buffy cast

Which is good considering it could take you a few weeks to binge-watch something, depending on how long it was originally on the air or how many seasons you have available to you. Basically, the show you’re binge-watching has been vetted by numerous people before you, and since a lot of other people like this show, you’re likely to like it too. Binge-watching TV shows that have become classics is much less risky than binge-watching a relatively unknown show.

You’re giving yourself a great pop culture education

Firefly cast

Watch fan favorites and you’ll be able to say “I understood that reference” to a slew of new things. For instance, those who have recently started watching Friday Night Lights (like this writer, for example) wouldn’t have understood the sentiment or importance behind people remarking about how Obama channeled Coach Taylor in his final State of the Union speech. Themes and gems from these fan-favorites have become woven into our society, so the more you watch the more you see.

Additionally, you might gain an insight into a certain topic, genre, or trend that you maybe never saw or considered before. For the most part, old fan-favorite TV shows have a lot of cultural value thanks to the subject matter they tackled or perhaps new ideas they introduced into the television medium. While there may be aspects of the show that feel a little dated, there’s still a lot these shows have to say. And we should be listening.

You can watch TV on your time

Pushing Daisies

Who doesn’t look forward to specific days of the week when your favorite show is on? It definitely helps us get through the week. However, the wait in between episodes is oftentimes excruciating. Not only that, but things come up that sometimes make it impossible to watch your favorite show live. Being dependent on network TV schedules can be a real drag sometimes.

When binge-watching TV shows, you can watch the shows on your own terms. Have a day off in the middle of the week but have to work crazy hours the rest of the week? Use that day for binge-watching! Need to take a break in the middle of your binging to run an errand or do a few chores? The show will be right there waiting for you when you get back.

The best part of making your own binging schedule, however, is the fact that you don’t have to wait a long time to find out what happens between each episode of a classic show (or even between a season finale and premiere). You can just move on to the next episode. Chances are, you’ll be in far less emotional pain.

Cons to binge-watching old fan-favorites

You’re behind the times

Veronica Mars season 1

This “con” seems like a given, but it’s something to consider when deciding to binge-watch old shows. Everyone else has “been there, done that” with the show and with the plot lines. You may have even “been there, done that” with some of the storylines or twists, depending on if other shows you’ve seen have mimicked old fan-favorites.

You’re even behind the times when it comes to the cast. Oftentimes, the actors in old classic shows were relative unknowns when the show was on air and then blew up afterward. In other words, when people saw those actors, they saw them as just their characters. But if you’re binge-watching shows after they’ve gone off the air, chances are you’re seeing these actors with a few characteristics of their other roles mixed in. The loss of actor/character purity is a real shame.

You can’t really talk to anyone about the show

Buffy, Willow, and Xander

There are three things that could potentially happen when you try to talk to someone who has seen the classic show you’re currently binge-watching:

  1. They spoil something for you. (Likely)
  2. They have a sort of “What took you so long?”/”Everyone’s seen that by now. How have you not?” condescending reaction. (Likely-ish)
  3. They geek out over it or just patiently listen to your thoughts without offering any of their own. (Least likely, but most welcome)

Given the fact that most of these classic shows have great twists or plot developments, it’s really risky to try to talk to someone about the show who has already seen it. Plus, nobody wants to feel left out or like they’re behind the times, so option #2 isn’t all that pleasant. When there’s a good chance that something bad is going to happen if you try to talk to someone about the fan-favorite show you’re currently binging, it’s just best not to.

But then that also leaves you alone with your thoughts for the show. Which is kind of sad (especially if you feel passionately about the characters or plot), not to mention maddening.

You miss out on any quality theorizing

Dollhouse cast

Sure, you can try to theorize while you’re watching each episode of the show you’re binging. You can even try to theorize in-between episodes or during the end credits. But there’s only so much you can contemplate and only so many details you can connect in that short time span.

In a normal TV-watching schedule, we have at least a week (if not more) to think about the consequences of events that happened in the previous episode. Plotlines have time to really sink into our brains. Heck, we even have a chance to remember characters and character names (which is hard to do when binging a show).

Part of the fun of watching shows is being able to theorize about what happens next. When binge-watching TV shows, we pretty much lose that opportunity because we have the instant gratification of finding out what happens right away.

You can’t search for anything about the show in fear of spoilers

Pushing Daisies Ned

The fear of spoilers is real. When binge-watching TV shows, it’s a real problem if you start to fall in love with them because you really can’t interact with the show beyond just watching. You can’t search Tumblr for gifs or proclamations of love for your favorite characters. You definitely can’t touch Google because everything would be a spoiler there. You can’t even IMDb the actors without risking finding out whether or not they stayed with the show until the very end.

Basically, if you’re binge-watching TV show classics, you can’t be on the internet.

The cute stars are much older now

Friday Night Lights hotties Matt Saracen and Tim Riggins

Photos and posters of these stars were probably in magazines when the show was running, but not anymore. You’ll have to find other ways to decorate your walls or locker with their cute faces and/or hot bodies. Another thing to think about: They’re probably married or dating someone. Especially if they have become more household names. So that’s kind of a bummer if thoughts of dating or marriage crossed your mind.

The silver lining? ReWatchable!

Hypable's ReWatchable Buffy the Vampire Slayer

ReWatchable! Thank goodness for ReWatchable.

We started ReWatchable in order to help accentuate the positives of binging fan-favorite TV shows and eliminate a few of the negatives (mainly the one about not being able to talk to anyone about the show or theorizing).

Sure, we move along at a bit of a slower pace than your average binge-ers, but if you’re binging a show that we’ve already done you can move through the episodes and our podcast episodes pretty quickly. Even just slowing down enough to listen to our podcast episodes gives you time to theorize a little bit!

We’re certainly not the only podcast out there that’s watching and talking about old shows, but we’re unique in that we don’t give any spoilers and have both newbies and superfans on each episode.

Our podcast exists to help people enjoy watching old shows. To make the most of the experience and to make it more fun.

What are some of the pros or cons you’ve run into when binge-watching TV shows that everyone loves?

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