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“WandaVision”: to binge or not to binge

<p>Our assistant Campus &amp; Community Editor waited weekly for each episode of &quot;WandaVision&quot;, while our multimedia editor binged it all at once. </p>

Our assistant Campus & Community Editor waited weekly for each episode of "WandaVision", while our multimedia editor binged it all at once.

When “WandaVision” wrapped up its first season on March 5, it had been airing episodes for nearly two months. Fans waited each Friday morning in anticipation of a new 25-minute episode.

Most fans, that is.

Assistant Campus & Community Editor Sean Scott watched every episode the day it premiered. He took two months to watch four hours of content.

Multimedia Editor Maggie Peña didn’t start watching “WandaVision” until March 10 when all the episodes were available on Disney+. She took two days to finish the series. 

The two editors duked it out over who had a better experience watching the show. Below is their conversation, edited for clarity. 

 ***

SEAN: So, you finally watched “WandaVision.” What did you think?

MAGGIE: I thought it was really good. It made me cry at the end because I'm a little baby, but I really liked being able to watch it in one sitting. How did you like it, finishing it over the course of two whole months?

 S: It was cool. I liked being involved with the conversation around it. I got to talk with my friends about how they were enjoying it so far, and we all had our own little theories. It was a lot more interactive than if we just all binged it. Did you feel left out of the conversation at all?

M: I had to actively avoid spoilers online. I'd be on Instagram, and I'd see something and say, “Well, I can't watch that, or I'm gonna ruin the whole show for myself.” 

Marvel is a very fan-heavy, interactive franchise, so it makes sense that they would do serialized shows. Binging kind of took away from that experience, but it was nice to not have to wait to see. They ended every episode on a cliffhanger, so it was nice not to have to wait for answers.

S: Do you feel like you missed anything in not getting to experience the show that way with other people? From my perspective, one of the best parts of it was sitting there and not knowing what was going to happen. I couldn’t immediately get the answer like you can with other shows.

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M: Yeah, I mean, looking back, it would have been nice to have that community around it and not have that instant gratification that we seek in today's culture. Like, with “Stranger Things,” I can watch that all in one day, but there’s no fun in that.

Am I going back on my opinion? Oh no, I need to start asking you hard questions. 

S: For me, one of one of the biggest things I regret about the show had to do with a pretty big reveal. I spent weeks wanting an explanation, and you spent hours. 

I feel like the reveal didn't hit that hard for you because it's not something you had grown accustomed to. For me, I spent weeks hearing theories about how they were going to do this, that or the other thing, and the big twist was nothing. That was not a good experience. It felt like a betrayal of the buildup they had going on.

M: Do you think watching it as a serialized show you got more out of the surprises because there were a lot of twists in each episode?

S: I think I got a lot out of the anticipation of it. I woke up every Friday morning, and it was the first thing that I did on Friday because I spent a week waiting for answers.

That waiting, it's not something that I want to do all the time. I love my “Stranger Things” and my “Haunting of Hill House” when you do get all the answers you want immediately. 

“Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is coming out next week. Are you going to watch that as a serial or all at once?

M: I'm inclined to say I want to watch it as a serial, but I feel like I've been so trained to binge things that it's going to be hard to go back to that and have to wait, theorize about things and then be wrong about it. Or just to like, not get that instant gratification. 

I have such a short attention span now, and it's hard to have to wait and not be able to watch it on my own time. When I was binging, I could just say, “OK, I'm gonna watch it in this 30-minute break I have and then in this 30-minute break, and then before I go to bed.” But if it's serialized, then it's like, “Oh, I need to watch it Friday morning so I don't get spoilers for the episode.”

S: Yeah, I don't have any classes on Fridays, so I was able to just watch each episode as soon as it came out. But if I had to wait until Saturday or Sunday, then I would feel left out of the conversation, even though I was watching it serially.

My big concern moving forward is how Marvel and Disney have so many shows that they're planning on releasing, and they're all serial. Marvel has four shows lined up for the rest of this year. I don't think that I can handle thinking about Marvel at least once a week, every week for the rest of the year. Like, that's a lot.

M: I guess it is kind of fair to say, with Marvel itself we get a few new movies every year. But I don't know, that is a lot. It’s like an overload.

S: Yeah, and those are movies. You make an event out of it, You see it once, maybe twice. And then after a couple of weeks, you just move on to the next thing. But with this, they're just not giving you a break, you have to be thinking about it.

M: And that's on Disney as a corporation. We don't like them.

 ***

S: I could get used to a mix. I enjoy that Netflix still does their binging series, and that's a good model for them. But I really liked “WandaVision” being serial, so a half-and-half world would be cool.

M: What do you mean? Like, some shows would just come out all at once and then some serial?

S: Well, I don't care about “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” at all, so I'd be more inclined to binge it. That way, it takes up a couple of days of my time and not a couple months.

M: It's not even that it's just a time thing, but it's an emotional thing. You were emotionally invested for two months, especially with “WandaVision” because it was such a depressing story.

S: It’s like, “Oh my gosh, my favorite superhero is grieving, so now I have to deal with her emotional baggage and support her as a potential villain for two months.”

M: Right, and then it ends and you think, what the heck does this mean for the rest of the MCU?

S: So do you think you'll watch the next few properties weekly?

M: I think I might try to watch “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” weekly. I might see if I have the emotional capability to do that and stay invested for a whole couple months. But honestly, it might not work because when I watch shows, I have to watch one show at a time. I can't bounce around between shows because I get so confused.

That's the whole thing, now I’m realizing it. If I’d watched “WandaVision” weekly, I couldn’t watch anything else for two months.

S: So for you, it's not necessarily a desire to keep up with the conversation or even the instant gratification like you were talking about, it’s just hard to keep track of multiple things at once and that would dominate your media for a month?

M: I sound so dumb. “My brain can't handle more than one thing at a time.”

But also, that goes back to Netflix culture. I could watch one episode at a time, but then I would forget by the time I got back to it. That's the other caveat of watching it as a binge thing: I'm gonna forget about “WandaVision.” But there's also not going to be a season two probably, so it's not going to matter as much.

S: Are you comfortable with where we're at now? You figured out why you like binging?

M: I don't like that I figured this out about myself, that I'm just dumb and I can't watch more than one thing at a time. But I guess that’s just the point — watching shows is such an individual experience, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. 

penaml@miamioh.edu

scottsr2@miamioh.edu



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