Television Cultures Post #5: Reflection

I watch a lot of television, and I had a hard time recording everything in my time-use diary. I know I could be spending my free time doing other things, but I just really like television- it’s my way of winding down at the end of the day.

In week 4 we talked about shared experiences and social rituals. This is relevant to much of my television viewing experiences, as I watch the most television in the lounge room of my share house. Although we don’t have free-to-air broadcast television, we use the services ABC iView and SBS on Demand to watch certain shows. Although we don’t watch television at the original broadcast times, we still know what night our favourite shows will be uploaded and wait until 10pm for the newest episode of Media Watch, Gruen XL or Dateline. The other night we found that two seasons worth of Kitchen Cabinet had been uploaded in anticipation of the newest season, so that caused some excitement and encouraged us to watch three episodes in a row.

One of my favourite television shows I started watching this semester was BoJack Horseman. I remember someone mentioning it in class while we were discussing Netflix and binge watching, thinking it sounded interesting. When I got home that night, a friend who had been crashing on out couch logged into his Netflix account via the PS4 in the lounge room and told us we should check out BoJack Horseman. I usually don’t like cartoons very much, various friends have been trying to get me into them for years, but I really liked BoJack. I think it’s the dry, cynical sense of humour that I like, and I finally understood that cartoons are appealing because of the freedom in what is shown on screens. People can animate things that cant happen in real life. One of my favourite sequences is their take on a trip sequence:

Basically my love for Bojack Horseman shows that I’ve been really trying to get out of my comfort zone in terms of viewing experiences. I was always a super stubborn teenager, rarely wanting to watch something I wasn’t familiar with and that is definitely something I’ve been trying to change. When Season 2 of Bojack came out I think we watched around 5 episodes in a row. Just last night we watched the first four episodes of the season in a row, even though we have already seen it. It’s that good.

This brings me to bingeing. The introduction of Netflix in Australia has inevitably changed many audiences viewing habits, with binge watching now a lot easier to do. However, having Netflix hasn’t changed my viewing habits at all, as I have always been a binge watcher- wether watching a series on DVD or simply streaming it on my laptop. Looking at my time use diary, I usually watch more than one episode at a time. I do this because I feel that I get more from a series if I watch it for an extended amount of time. Orange is the New Black is a show that definitely capitalises on this concept, being a Netflix original series that was practically designed for binge watching. The writers of Orange is the New Black know that viewers will generally watch more than one episode at a time, benefiting by creating complex characters and relationships.

Orange is the New Black is one of the shows I watched by myself this semester. Although most of my viewing is done in the lounge room with my housemates, sometimes you just want to be alone so I retreat to my room to watch something I know they wouldn’t like. Usually it’s a guilty pleasure like MasterChef or Keeping up with the Kardashians. This semester I also watched The OC again. I have all of the seasons on DVD from when I was around 13 or 14, and something about watching cheesy teen soap operas is very comforting. Its probably their simple narratives and traditional serial model that wraps up at the end of every season.

This semester has made me reflect on my television habits in a way I haven’t before. Rather than just recognising what I watch, I was able to start thinking about why I watch them, and what it is that makes them appealing to me.


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