“House of Cards” and binge watching in America

Netflix original series becomes most streamed show online.

By Erin Fogerty

Netflix’s first original series “House of Cards,” is an adaption of the BBC series. The show not only portrays the viciousness of Washingtonian politics but also satisfies America’s demand for binge watching in the age of online television.

Waiting for “Revenge” to broadcast on Mondays, or “Kourtney and Kim Take Miami” on Sundays are yesterday’s news. On Feb. 1, Netflix released all thirteen episodes of the first season of “House of Cards,” securing a two-season contract executively produced by the prestigious David Fincher, director of “Fight Club,” “Social Network” and “S7ven.” Fincher, who directed the first two episodes, set the stage for five fellow directors to follow suit, no pun intended.

HOC satiates television junkie Spacey, as Congressman Underwood, personalizes the series by directly talking to the audience in often cheesy yet necessary monologues and one-liners. He even introduces you to the main characters in the post-opening-credits first scene. “Welcome to Washington,” he politely addresses.

“This is one of the best movies I have ever seen,” senior Ian Cruz said.

Cruz’s reference to the series being a film isn’t an unfair assertion as he saw it as a thirteen hour film while watching it in one sitting. He probably isn’t the only one viewing the thirteen addictive episodes back to back. There are over 27 million Netflix subscribers in the United States who are raving about HOC. And Cruz is definitely not the only student at USD indulging in Netflix television seasons for hours on end. Senior Jeff Johnson watched the first four seasons of “Breaking Bad” during one intersession.

The release of HOC begs the question: what will Netflix do next? There are currently six other Netflix original television series in the works. “Arrested Development Season 4” is expected to debut in May 2013 with 14 new episodes. The comedy, which Fox cancelled in 2006, has a huge following and its Netflix comeback has a lot of expectations to meet. “Derek” is another original series coming to Netflix, which stars Ricky Gervais as Derek, an overachieving, caregiver. Similar to “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation”, “Derek” is a mockumentary comedy.

“Hemlock Grove” will be released on April 19 on Netflix. There will be 13 one-hour episodes released all at once for fans of murder, mystery and werewolves. “Narcos,” “Orange is the New Black” and “Turbo F.A.S.T” are three more series that are expected to be released in late 2013 and early 2014.

“No one has ever watched anything on Netflix that they couldn’t watch all at once,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said.

Netflix provides members with multiple seasons of popular television comedies, dramas and even reality shows. The fee is $7.99 per month which allows the viewer access to seasons of “The Wire,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Workaholics” and hundreds of other television series on through a computer, tablet or smartphone.

Releasing all thirteen episodes of HOC at once provides viewers with a sense of instant gratification. The overnight success of the show is partly due to the rise of a television binge watching culture.
“The captive audience is gone,” HOC director David Fincher said. “If you give people this opportunity to mainline all in one day, there’s reason to believe they will do it.”

Seniors Ian Cruz and Jeff Johnson prove Fincher’s point as well as many “Breaking Bad” fans. According to Netflix, 73 percent of members who started streaming season one of “Breaking Bad” went on to finish all seven episodes. This compulsive, binge viewing is the new way to watch television. Our culture has become more and more impatient with traditional “appointment TV.” The thought of having to sit through commercials now seems implausible for some. And with online streaming, viewers no longer have to dwell on cliffhangers, or let the suspense of their favorite TV drama drive them crazy for a week. Viewers no longer have to wait to see what happens next. With the click of a button, all suspense and impatience can be satisfied.

Netflix has been a major play in this shifting of our television landscape. Television content is now being created and distributed on the internet, which might have seemed like a crazy idea just a few years ago. HOC has experienced great success and will likely set the trend toward more online television series. Only time will tell if Netflix’s other original series will be as popular in our binge watching society.