More specifically, I miss watching shows in a world where on-demand didn’t exist.
Now, before you and tell me that I’m crazy, of course I prefer the on-demand world. I was one of the first people out there figuring out how torrenting works so I could download the latest episodes of Lost on my computer so I wouldn’t have to rush home from whatever I was doing in order to catch the latest episode. On-demand is a fantastic addition to our lives because it allows us to live our lives a little more.
However, at the same time, it has taken something from us. It has deleted the ability to have a collective experience surrounding a cultural event. Say what you will, but I’m saying that the tv series Lost was a cultural event. Much like when a new Netflix series drops unexpectedly and everyone jumps into the zeitgeist of How to Make a Murderer or Stranger Things. It gets people talking…but not for long.
I am re-watching Lost right now with Vero. It’s an exciting time for me because I get to watch the show knowing what will happen, but I also get to see Vero’s reaction at all the mysteries that need solving and remember (fondly) how I was asking the same questions along with my friends.
That is the problem with on-demand television right now.
Instead of your friends getting together one night for dinner and saying “Yeah, what’s up with that monster on Lost?!”, the conversation veers more towards “Have you seen Stranger Things? Isn’t it awesome?”. That’s where the conversation ends when talking about the newest, greatest TV series out on Netflix. We basically get to share and compare a few notes on how we think the TV series is great, but that’s it. We don’t get to dive into details like “OMG, what is Character X going to do about Situation Y?!” There’s no concept of the water cooler talk where we discuss specific mysteries. Because…the mystery has already unfolded over a 10 hour series which you probably binged-watched over the weekend. The moment is gone and was captured in your mind for 30 seconds until you put on the next episode.
Network TV still subscribes to the model of one episode per week so we haven’t completely lost the concept. But in an on-demand world, it’s hard for me to find people who have watched the same exact episodes at the same exact time as me.
Me: “Did you see the new Star Trek Discovery episode? SO GOOD!”
Colleague: “Oh no! I have not. I will catch up.”
Fast forward the next week, I’ve already gone past that moment in time and never think of bringing it up again.
Nat: “OH MAN, it’s crazy what happened in the latest episode of Rebels!”
Me: “Wait, I haven’t seen it. Let’s all pause our talk.”
I’ve essentially killed the conversation because it’s not like Nat is going to come back and say “So…what did you think?” Nat has already moved onto another series that she wants to talk about.
I miss Lost…and I’m glad to be re-watching it with Vero because it brings me back to the time where it’s exciting to talk to someone about what is going to happen in the next episode. Of course, in an on-demand world, we just hit play and watch a new episode. But at least those few minutes in between are interesting and gives me a glimpse back to a more interesting time to watch TV.