Supernatural: A Lesson in Binge Watching

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I’m a late-comer to Supernatural. I didn’t start watching until last spring, when I was bored with the current TV options and wanted to know why it had such a huge cult following. I watched ten seasons in just a few short months, cramming one to two episodes into every weeknight (and four or more on the weekend days). This may sound slow to some of you binge watchers out there, but I have a toddler, which means no scary bad guys during daylight hours–unless it was nap time, of course.

To be honest, I’m pretty impressed I got through it so fast and was able to catch up before the start of season 11.  That did mean that season 11 was a different one for me. I got what it felt like to watch week to week, waiting between episodes. You’d think this would be especially tough for episodes that had cliffhanger endings, but actually, it was the one-off episodes that were worse. Some of those solid episodes I could breeze through when binge watching. But that was all I got for the week? Give me more!

But this post isn’t really about that…exactly. Since today is Supernatural Day, I got to thinking about my experience watching the show. As I’ve seen list after list of best episodes and favorite sidekicks, I suddenly started asking myself, did my binge watching actually hurt my Supernatural experience?

Let’s start with the details. I can tell you main characters, but there’s a lot I can’t recall. I can tell you main villains and general plotlines, but by rushing through the series, I have some fuzzy spots. For example, recently, it took me way too long to remember who or what Lilith was.

What’s more, I can only imagine how incredibly tough some of the poignant (or devastating) moments were. I mean, sure, I had a some good tears and heartbreak with Bobby and Charlie, but I’d only “known” them for a few months. Those watching the series over the years had, well, years! I can only imagine how that felt differently.

In fact, watching week to week for twelve years is very impressive, and I can see how this cult following is so strong. That’s quite the commitment. That said, bingeing did give me the opportunity to watch and watch fast, so I could catch up and join in the fun. And perhaps it made me a more rabid fan, wanting more more more because I’m not used to waiting for a week. I don’t know. But I have all the respect for those who can name episodes and guest stars, much like I’ve done for shows like Buffy for all these years. I may have picked up some of the canon, but you guys clearly know John’s journal, front to back.

*Photo by the CW

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