The Art of Marathoning

Normally, Fridays will be dedicated to posting reviews of whatever show I’m marathoning, but I need a small break from the concept of consuming episodes in bulk.  I finished Supernatural last week, having gotten through seasons 2-7 in a little over a month (and in that month, my heart was ripped out of my chest countless times).  So.  Yeah.  I need a break.

So while I’m moving on from Supernatural and trying to find my next show, I wanted to talk about the idea of marathoning.  Or maybe just watching TV in general.  Some people can fly through a season of a show in a day.  Others can handle maybe one or two episodes a day, and some can get through one episode a week.  I happen to fall into the first group.  But what are the differences in how people watch TV?  Why can some people start watching a show in its ninth season, while others have to catch up on it entirely before they can watch the current season?

Personally, I can’t even fathom the thought of watching a show without knowing everything that’s ever happened on it.  You can’t possibly appreciate or understand the character dynamics unless you’ve watched them develop.  Or can you?  I mean, I’ve seen every episode of most of my favorite shows, but there have been times where I missed an episode of Chuck or Lost and never caught up.  To this day, most of my knowledge of season one of Lost and season three of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comes from reading recaps.  I missed most of season five of Mad Men and I still talk about the plotlines (and Jared Harris’ perfection) like I witnessed them personally.

So I’m wondering.  We’re all passionate about our TV watching.  How do you do it?  How do you start watching a new show?  Are you a season-a-week person?  What determines the shows that you watch?

Personally, I don’t need much convincing to watch a TV show.  If the premise of a new show interests me, I’ll check it out.  I started watching most of my current favorite shows (like Community and New Girl) because I recognized some of the actors and wanted to check them out.

The speed at which I get through a show varies – I’ve been watching Breaking Bad for most of 2012, and I’m not even done with season three, because I always put it on the backburner.  But then there are shows like Supernatural, that I’ll marathon for nine hours a day.  I think my record was season five, which I finished over two days.

Moreover, I wonder if how you watch a show affects what you think of it, or if what you think of it affects how you watch it.  Like, I can’t have nine-hour Breaking Bad sessions, because my brain will implode.  And my nine-hour Supernatural-athons usually left me curled up in a ball on the floor, crying my eyes out (or, more accurately, trying to sob silently because it was 3 AM and my roommate was asleep).  And I’m a huge Doctor Who fan, but I went into it only knowing about David Tennant, so I started the first series with Christopher Eccleston quickly, just because I wanted to get through him and onto the Tennant years as soon as possible.  But once I realized how awesome the Ninth Doctor was, I slowed down and enjoyed that part of the show.

I’m curious how everyone else watches television.  What are your marathoning habits?  Let’s discuss in the comments!

(And let me know if you have any suggestions for what show I should marathon next!  Whatever I pick will be reviewed every Friday.  I’m toying with the idea of Party Down or Homeland, but I’m open to ideas.)


4 thoughts on “The Art of Marathoning

  1. This came up a little bit in the panel at Vulture yesterday. I was called a “completeist” because I like to watch things from the start before watching an episode live. My response was much like you…HOW CAN YOU NOT WATCH SOMETHING FROM THE START? To which the bitchy Real Housewives fan said, “I don’t have time.” And my inner monologue said “And you also worship mindless television.”

    …did you not watch all of Lost???


    • I DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT AT ALL! If I like a show (especially a drama), I can’t just start six seasons in. I’ll make time if I have to.

      I didn’t get CRAZY into Lost until season two, so there were a bunch of episodes from season one that I missed throughout the season. I watched the season, but missed some episodes. I want to go back and watch them all, but catching up on a few episodes of Lost requires, like, watching ALL of Lost, and I don’t know if my brain is ready for that yet.

  2. I watch a little bit at a time. I could never marathon a television show in the span of a few days. Even the simplest of shows would make my head implode by doing that. “Suits” I flew through pretty fast (and by that I mean about a month or so), as I did with “Downton Abbey.” If I know that a show is returning though relatively soon, I’ll try to space it out so I have enough time to catch up and not have too much time in between the end of the marathon and beginning of a new season. For “Doctor Who,” I took much more time to go through the series, starting at the beginning with the 9th Doctor’s era. And a show like “Firefly,” I’m savoring each episode because there are so few — so it’s like, three episodes every three weeks or something, lol.

    There is only ONE exception to my rule of marathoning television shows from the beginning, and it’s “Modern Family” because my brother bought me the second series on DVD. Otherwise, I’m a stickler for starting at the very beginning. Because, well, if a singing nun said it… it must be valid. 😉

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