Raise your hand if you indulged a little too much over the holidays. Yeah, me too. (That’s me in the reindeer pajamas, waving wildly!)
But let’s be clear—I’m not talking about food (though there was much wine and chocolate consumed in the last days of the last decade). No, I’m talking about entertainment binging. Books. Movies. TV shows. Over the holidays I binged all of the Star Wars movies, several TV shows, and a book series.
I don’t know about you guys, but while there are things that bug me about the techno-centric, noisy world we now inhabit, I absolutely fluv being able to snuggle up on my sofa, open my shiny new iPad, and lose myself in my favorite books. Or in a 1950s comedy, a galaxy far, far away, the MCU, Westeros, Sunnydale, or a slickly colorful version of not-heaven (ahem, not-hell)(spoiler, not spoiler).
My name is J. Kenner, and I’m a binger. TV series. Movie series. And, yes, book series. I’m also starting a new column here at Frolic, where I’ll be talking about the various things I’ve binged (from Outlander to cheesecake), pop culture, Romancelandia, my quest for the perfect purse (really!), HEAs, and various obscure and random observations guaranteed* to change your life. (*Maybe that last part not so much.)
When I say I’m a binger, I mean I’m a BINGER. Not only do I dive into a series intending to finish that puppy all the way through, but I will also re-binge. Many. Many. Many Times. (My family knows not to watch a random episode of Buffy just for fun, because Mom will inevitably start over at the pilot and watch all the way through to the bitter end. Again. In approximately ten days. Yeah. Serious binging.)
I’ve binge read all of the J.D. Robb books multiple times. (Roarke, Roake, Roarke. Sigh. Sorry. I needed a moment there), and since the series is ongoing, I am sure I will binge them again. Raise your hand if each time you re-read you wish there were more Peabody and McNab scenes! (*raises hand*)
I’ve binge-read all of the Outlander books multiple times The novels, not the novellas. While I enjoy the novellas, I’m in it for the Jamie/Claire relationship. And, yes folks, that is a serious commitment! Have ya seen that page count?
(Here’s a tip for those of you aspiring to my level of re-binging: Audiobooks. I do the whispersync thing with my books and my Kindle. And I listen all the time. While cleaning. While exercising. While driving. I have absolutely no idea what is popular in music these days, but dammit, I’ve re-read/listened to my favorite books eighty bajillion times!)
I spend a lot of time on the road, so that helps burn through the pages. Sadly, drive time doesn’t help with the TV and movie binge. Even so, I manage to regularly re-binge the aforementioned Buffy. Not to mention Alias (a fave), The Americans, Lost, and loads of other shows that I watch and rewatch.
And nowadays, with the dumping of an entire season in one fell-swoop? That is so my jam. Currently binging Season Three of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (after re-binging one & two) and waiting for the last bit of The Good Place (after a recent re-binge of all the episodes during the holiday).
Nor do I necessarily wait. I re-binged Fleabag about four days after watching it the first time around. Kneel. Yeah. Whew.
(And if you don’t understand that reference, get thee to your favorite streaming device. Right. Now.)
So, am I just a bizarre woman with nothing else to do? (Ah, no. With my writing schedule, trust me when I say I have plenty to do.) No, the thing about bingeing is that it fulfills many needs.
The first time through, you’re enjoying meeting the characters and getting sucked into the story. After that, re-watching (especially re-bingeing) serves a real, legitimate purpose. For people who aren’t writers, it’s a way to relax with something familiar and beloved. Something where there aren’t surprises (a nice thing in this day and age). Something you can lose yourself in that’s familiar and comfortable. Something like home.
For a writer, all of the above applies, but there’s more to it than that. Bingeing provides a pathway into craft and story. A way to see character development more closely in a story that is now intimately familiar. A way to see the layering of subplots and the parallels between the main story and a supporting story. (The Americans does this brilliantly). It’s a way to study anti-heroes (hello, Breaking Bad), and a way to study the good, bad, and the weird in wrapping up a series (Lost). (For the record, I’m in the camp that likes the ending of Lost, and each time I rewatch, I like it more. Sorry, not sorry.)
Maybe that’s a justification. Or maybe my binging/rewatching is part of what made me want to be a writer. After all, I’ve always been a binger/rewatcher. I watched Star Wars eighty-two times in the theater as a kid (before I stopped counting). Not an exaggeration. (Yes, I pretty much lived at the Capital Plaza theater in Austin that summer, and saw it multiple times each day.) And I’ve always been a re-reader, too, so much so that I used to re-read my favorite books in pieces because the spine would break and I’d have to read from two different chunks.
Maybe the part of me that wants to get so absorbed in other people’s stories is why I’m driven to create my own. And why I’m especially compelled to write long, continuing series—because I don’t want to leave those worlds or those characters.
I don’t know.
For that matter, I don’t know if I care. All I know is that so long as there are stories to binge, I’m there.
Bring ‘em on. My devices can handle it!
PS: What’s your favorite show/movie/book to binge? I’m always looking for the next binge!