There was a time — gasp — that you had to sit down to scheduled programming, tethered to the mercy of the television channels and what they were programming then and there. You wanted an episode of Seinfeld? Sure. Only if you happened to be planted on your couch in front of the tube during NBC’s Must-See-TV Thursday Nights.
Binge watching wasn’t a part of the vernacular. If you wanted to do a 1990s equivalent of binge watching, it would consist of either stomaching four consecutive hours of whatever was on the channel you were on, or a VHS tape full of those great Seinfeld episodes you wanted to watch so bad (in fact, I believe I had a tape like that…replete with all the commercials and poor quality you’d expect of a tape that was re-recorded on, over and over, about 2000 times).
And since there was no concept of the on-demand, free-for-all that is Netflix, you not only had to watch TV live as it aired, you had to have some sort of mechanism to find what was actually on the tube…and no, that wasn’t the Internet. At least the hard, paper copy of TV Guide was as instantaneous as a pre-Internet era could be when it came to wanting to see what was on. Because if you flicked over to the Prevue Channel (later the TV Guide Channel) to see the listings scroll by at a blisteringly slow pace, only to have the channel you were looking for coast by in the blink of an eye…well…these are the things that could ruin an afternoon.
Ah, yes. You kids these days don’t know how good you have it with your binge watching. I have suffered many hardships.
Do you long for the glory days of TV? Or has today’s want-what-I-want-when-I-want-it, “binge-watching” culture completely won you over? We’d like to hear from you in the Comments.