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Why we can't watch a 10hr movie but binge through a 10 hour TV series?

Ever since Netflix and its strategy of releasing all the episodes together instead of one each week, binging has become a new culture or a way of life to say.

We don't like to wait for anything be it the RJ to play our favorite song or even waiting for new episodes each week.

I remember waiting for TVD or GoT to come up with new episodes each week and I hated the wait for the next episode.

I remember when someone suggested 'Money Heist' to me and I binged through the entire season on a weekend and I had a Financial Accounting exam on Monday.

~10hr of TV in one sitting.

Good ‘ol days.

And the longest movie I’ve watched must be The Irishman & The Godfather: Part 2.

Considering I always watch The Godfather 1 before the second part it's like 5-6 odd hours.

(Fun Fact: The longest-running movie ever is Logistics at 857 hours)

And if anyone has watched The Irishman(BTW my friend who I used to carpool with during my MBA said it was a "task" to complete the movie), they’ll know that it was a little tough to watch the movie in one go. You get bored, check the remaining time again & again, and once it's over, whether you liked it or not, you thank the gods it’s finally over. And it’s hardly a third of the length of the TV show we happily binge through.

But Why?

How can it possibly be easier and preferable to watch three times more content much more easily even if it’s not that interesting?

I mean like seriously, Godfather the trilogy is so much better than Stranger things. And are there any productivity takeaways from this?

Instant gratification

This is an iron rule of human productivity, we like instant gratification or instant feedback. Sure we can work without it, but we’re generally more hooked when we get instant results for our efforts when we can actually see and measure the completion of the task at hand.

When you’re binging a show, you can see how many episodes you’ve completed, you can measure your progress easily. Each episode is like a sub-task and completing each one feels like a job being completed. We tick one item off in our mental to-do list.

Whereas in a movie, while you can measure your progress, it’s still one task, one big entity.

You don’t get a sense of satisfaction after watching half of the movie. Because the job is not done, it’s still in progress. You haven’t checked the task off your list. And an in-progress task can never be as satisfactory as a completed one.


Alright but we binge because we feel like we have to don’t we?

At the end of an episode, we’re left with emotions and suspense that it becomes almost impossible not to watch the next episode.

The episodes and the streaming services are designed in a way that they end at the peak, they end with a high. And we love to maintain the high.

Every movie has a build-up, suspense, and an ending. Whereas a TV show doesn’t have to divide itself into the first three episodes as build-up, the next four as suspense, and the remaining ones covering the ending.

Each episode has its own build-up, its own suspense, and its own ending. Just like tiny movies(Sherlock is a great example). So they tell their stories in such a way that they keep you hooked on the main plot even after they’ve just completed a sub-story end to end.


Once you’re going, you keep going.

If you do something once, it becomes easier to do it again.

If you’re on a seventh episode and you’re thinking should I watch another or not? The two dialogues in your head are “I’ve already watched 6, what’s one more” or “I’ve already watched 6, I should stop”. And more often than not, we’re likely going to go with the first one.

And also, if you sit back and study some TV show, you’ll realize that many of the episodes just contain noise, just desperate attempts to keep you hooked. To keep the built momentum going.

For example, the lowest-rated episode of the TV show Breaking Bad is Fly(I remember talking to my friend Dilsher that I thought I might quit watching the series after that episode), an entire episode on removing a fly from their meth lab.

Noise. But it’s all about momentum, you keep your high going.

Shoutout to Gagan for the inspiration and almost the entire idea of this article.

I hope this helps anyone who is reading this.

Until Next time.

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