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June 2020 © Gaby van Halteren

The Pros and Cons of Binge Watching

June slipped into July without telling me—sneaky months, they are—so here is my June blog post on July 4. I bet you'd probably never noticed if I hadn't told you, but there it is.

I also needed to find something other to write about than: OMG, the first half of the year is already gone!

OMG, it is! 2020 will be a year for the history books, but not in a good way, at least not until now. And since we all are waiting for the second or even third shoe of corona virus to drop, my guess is, the rest of the year won't be either.

But, after a day full of dark clouds and constant rain, today the sun is shining again, presenting me with the opportunity to sit in my garden and work from there. The same way this strange world we're living in right now will give way to a new and better world, different from the one we were used to, but still one in which we can live our lives with renewed purpose and happiness again. Well, at least if we can reverse climate change, but let's not go there right now, it's too beautiful a day...

This is the topic I came up with for this blog post:

The Pros and Cons of Binge Watching (from a writer's perspective)

I finally watched the last three seasons of Suits on Netflix. What I did wasn't officially binge watching, as in watching an entire season's episodes back to back. I didn't watch more than two episodes a day, but still the story structure of the episodes came down on me in full force. Apart from the fact that our guys will (usually) overcome all obstacles, even if the odds are against them big time, and win in the end, there is a clear structure that every episode follows—or two episodes that belong together when the problem is too big for one episode to solve.

The episode stories follow the classic story structure, the one we, the readers, watchers and listeners, are accustomed to, the one we love and cherish. The protagonists are made aware of something/someone they need to turn their attention to. In Suits it's a new case, accompanied by a good cause—even if that cause at first seems a little shady or not worthy—and they devise their strategy.

Of course, the first time they think they have the antagonist/opposing council pinned down, the antagonist will present a surprising turn of events which the protagonists didn't expect and which leaves them at a disadvantage for the moment. But they buckle down, dive deeper, bring up more information, more details and come up with a new strategy. Their antagonist, sure they have defeated our good guys, let their guard down, and the protagonists are able to swoop in and save the day—after all, they are the good guys.

Sometimes there is another round of being crushed and picking themselves up again, digging deeper still and then, finally, FINALLY, finding the one thing they need to end this fight in their/their client's favor.


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As a reader/watcher, and when the story is done well and has at least one surprising twist, I love this structure. As a writer I ask myself, why is this structure such a universal thing that literally everyone who is telling stories keeps following it? And what would happen if I didn't?

I haven't had the courage to act on that last question yet, and my guess is if I did I'd end up discovering that whatever I wrote is still following the story structure somehow—that's how universal it is, you simply can't avoid it.

So how is this blog post about the pros and cons of binge watching, you ask, and rightfully so? All I talked about is story structure. Well, there is a little addition to the title, saying "from a writer's perspective". What I mean by that is that binge watching has given me the opportunity to experience first hand that this story structure works each and every time, and that every reader, every watcher and every listener craves the tension it provides that leads up to the satisfying ending which, in turn, leaves us wanting more—even if we all know at the beginning how the story will play out, as is customary with TV series.

And now I'm going back to writing my own story. I have an idea where I will be ending up... how about you?


The blog post The Pros and Cons of Binge Watching was first published on



Missed a blog post? You can read all of them in my archive here (2020)here (2019), and here (2018).


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