In 1998, my wife and I took a cruise for our honeymoon. As we were getting ready for dinner one night, I was flipping through our very limited television selections available to us. I am not sure of what the dynamics were of 1998 cruise ship television reception, but I do recall it was very limited and very spotty. On this particular night, one of the few stations available to us was a San Diego NBC affiliate. Unsure of the time it was (we were on cruise time, and although we knew dinner was approaching, the greater acceptance of time is an abstract concept on a cruise), we noticed that a new episode of Seinfled was about to air.
Back home, we often watched Thursday night TV with our friends, watching Friends, the underappreciated Just Shoot Me, Seinfeld, and whatever forgettable show such as Veronica’s Closet that filled out that two-hour block.
We decided we would go ahead and watch Seinfeld before dinner, a bit of a tribute to our crew back home. Turns out, we were the only ones of the crew watching. When we got home a week later, we found out a storm had knocked power out of most of the area, and none of our friends saw the show. And this being pre-internet, there was no way to see it until it came out on VHS many months later. (Kids, ask your parents what this VHS thing is.)
Obviously, things have changed now with how we consume television. But one thing has started to creep back in, and my wife and I have both decided we absolutely love it. We love the weekly drop of a show that many are doing now. I first got experience with it with the Marvel and Star Wars universes, universes my wife is perfectly fine with existing, but has no interest in being a part of.
But when The Mandalorian, Loki, Wandavision and Captain America and the Winter Soldier rolled out, it was pretty amazing to have to wait until Friday to see the next episode. My kids expressed frustration at first, but then started to get on board with the excitement of the build up and the anticipation. We would talk about the show the week prior and give our guesses at what would happen, and then love trading texts and phone calls when the new episode finally dropped.
Lest you think we are purists, my wife and I have both binge watched shows. And we greedily consumed them all at once, sidling up to the trough and just gulping down episodes of Peaky Binders or Marvelous Miss Maisel or the first season of Bosch.
But we all kept coming back to the fact that there is something about waiting, about consuming at the same time (essentially), and not having to avoid social media for a week to avoid spoilers.
Currently, we have two shows that we are loving watching as they release episodes weekly. We are fully on board with Ted Lasso, like everyone else on the planet, and can’t wait until every Friday to see a new one. Our second go-to show is Only Murders in the Building, starring Martin Short, Steve Martin and Selena Gomez, and that checks our Tuesday night viewing schedule off perfectly.
(Confession time: We also have a Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday weekly show we watch, but it’s our guilty pleasure Big Brother, which will soon end, and we will replace it with Survivor. We’re not proud of it. Don’t judge us.)
It’s nice to have a few regularly scheduled retreats on each night we can spend together doing what we enjoy – kicking back and enjoying some escapism together. Also, important to note, this is about all of the television we watch. We also do other things that involve things such as the outdoors and other people.
So my point (I think there’s one!?!?!) is that I am glad the pendulum is swinging back to shows not releasing all the episodes at once, and instead bringing us along for the season-long ride. And what technology has done is ensure that a single thunderstorm doesn’t completely eliminate your chance to watch at all. And if that’s not a crowning achievement of technology after 23 years, I don’t know what is.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.