There can be no denying that Netflix has changed the face of the entertainment industry, perhaps forever. While pioneering the once-revolutionary streaming model that has since become commonplace, the company has also stayed one step ahead of the game with inventive new ideas.
Back in 2011, it announced plans to launch its first ever original series, House of Cards, in what was then considered to be a daring gamble – and the streamer raised eyebrows even higher when it revealed all episodes would be available at once. A decade later and the practice of “binge watching” is no longer limited to ITV2’s Coronation Street omnibus, but deeply ingrained into mainstream culture.
Although recent developments beg the question: is that a good thing? In a world already hopelessly reliant on instant gratification, binge watch culture has seemingly only made people even more impatient.
In the last year or so, the weekly release model once thought to be moribund has had something of a resurgence courtesy of Netflix’s two key competitors: Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video. Star Wars spin-off The Mandalorian, comic book thriller The Boys and, most recently, Marvel’s WandaVision have all followed this more traditional scheduling – but the decision has proved controversial among fans.
The most extreme response came from viewers of The Boys, who ganged up to sabotage the show with as many one-star ratings as they could in a practice known as “review bombing”. The bewildering part is that the series itself is widely adored by its viewership, meaning this drastic action was taken simply in protest of having to wait a few weeks to watch the finale.
If we can take a more level-headed look at the weekly release method, we’ll see that there are actually several advantages to consuming entertainment this way.
For starters, it removes the pressure attached to watching a major new series. I would wager that most telly fans have at one point felt forced to binge through something they had been looking forward to in a desperate bid to avoid spoilers. It’s become increasingly easy to stumble upon a plot twist on social media as fellow fans and news outlets alike struggle to determine how many episodes viewers are likely to have seen at any given time.
Isn’t it nice to get a break from that chaos? Waking up on a Friday knowing you have only one episode of WandaVision to catch up on – and that almost everyone else is on exactly the same page – is nothing short of blissful.
But the perks don’t stop there as a weekly release is also much more beneficial for the show itself, allowing the likes of The Mandalorian, The Boys and WandaVision to stay at the forefront of the public’s imagination for two months at a time. In stark contrast, a number of binge-able shows have felt like old news mere days after dropping on Netflix, as the streamer is constantly rushing towards the next big thing with little in the way of breathing space. That’s also partly why so many of its cult-favourite shows end up prematurely axed.
By utilising a staggered rollout, each new episode of a series is gifted time to generate headlines and social media buzz, which could very well help to attract new viewers and bolster its likelihood of success.
Of course, it also allows us to savour the show rather than rush through it, which has been particularly fun for a series as layered in mystery as WandaVision. Sure, we all want to know what’s going on and what it could mean for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but having a week to pick apart the latest developments and Easter eggs is a joy. Not to mention, it resurrects the so-called watercooler moment, whereby friends and colleagues can revel in the most jaw-dropping scenes.
Perhaps most importantly of all, it gives us something to look forward to each week. As we grind through the latest nationwide lockdown, my recent weekends have kicked off not with a pint at my local pub but by diving into the latest chapter of WandaVision. It’s been a comforting little routine and anything that keeps people sane right now should not be so easily dismissed.
Want more WandaVision content? Check out our latest WandaVision review, our guide to the WandaVision cast, the WandaVision release schedule, Agatha Harkness and the creepy WandaVision commercials. Plus, we ask:When is WandaVision set and how did Vision survive?
WandaVision releases new episodes on Disney+ on Fridays. You can sign up to Disney Plus for £5.99 a month or £59.99 a year.
Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide.