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Binge-Watchers, There’s a More Rewarding Way to Enjoy TV Shows

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Robin Wright as President Claire Underwood in Netflix's House of Cards

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I’m not here to tell you to stop binge-watching. We’re in our third year of a global pandemic, the US is experiencing sharp inflation and every day is starting to feel like a survival test. If watching an entire TV series in one week is what keeps you going, don’t let me stop you. However…I have some opinions on the slow-watch. 

When House of Cards debuted on Netflix in 2013, it changed the TV industry in two ways. It was the first big-budget TV series with well-known actors that was available to anyone with an internet connection and access to the streaming service — no cable contract needed. And viewers could watch the entire season’s 13 episodes at once. 

It wasn’t the birth of binge watching, not quite. Anyone with access to a whole season of TV on home video could binge their way through entire seasons, one VHS or DVD at a time, long before Netflix. But this was the first time that a new show dropped an entire season at once, leaving pacing to the viewers, rather than the weekly TV schedule. And the world has been binge-watching TV shows ever since. 

And that’s fine, if it works for you. But I’d like to suggest an alternative: If you pace your TV watching, you might just like it better than binge-watching. Here’s why. 

The time between episodes is meaningful

Some of my favorite TV-watching memories don’t happen on screen. They’re not big action sequences or plot twists, nor powerful performances from the actors in the show. Instead, they’re the moments after the episode, talking to friends and family about what just happened, connecting it to threads from earlier in the series and speculating about what will happen next. 

When WandaVision premiered last year, new episode releases were an event in my home. My girlfriend and I would grab takeout, watch the new episodes, and then spend up to an hour just talking about everything we just watched. Those conversations challenged our memories, attention to detail and creativity, and the experience surrounding the show is what I remember most fondly.

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WandaVision’s twists and turns were all the more interesting on a weekly schedule.


Marvel

Binge-watching replaces those moments with the immediate dopamine hit from starting a new episode. For some types of shows, like reality and competition series, that might be a perfectly fine tradeoff. But for anything with dramatic stakes, I want the tension created by time between one episode and the next. Cliffhangers should pinch — that’s what makes the payoff worthwhile. The fun of seeing someone show up unexpectedly at the end of an episode, is pondering what it might mean for the next one. What theories does it confirm and which ones does it shoot down? There’s no time for that kind of playful speculation in a binge-watch.

If the magic of poetry happens in the line breaks between words, where your imagination has to fill in the gaps, the magic of television, to me, happens between episodes. It’s the connection we create with other people when we share observations, questions and theories. “What do these cryptic commercials in WandaVision mean?” And, sure, you can do that with shows you’ve binged, but it’s an almost impossibly large task to condense an entire season’s worth of thoughts into one conversation. Watching a show week-by-week gives you more time to think about what’s going on, to speculate about what’s upcoming, and to share those thoughts with other people. That kind of discourse has only become more valuable since the start of the pandemic, and one of the truly great things about entertainment is the way it unites people and offers a means of connection. 

When you watch slowly, the show stays with you

Binge-watching can be exciting because it’s a lot of information all at once. Meeting new characters and sometimes new worlds is invigorating, and binge-watching gives you that action in a concentrated dose. But it also crams that joy into a tiny, little box.

Watching a whole season of TV in one weekend is a fundamentally different experience than watching a show week-to-week as it airs. Binge-watching a show minimizes the amount of time you spend exploring that series — the amount of time it spends interacting with the rest of your life. 

Avatar Korra fire and water bending

You might find yourself connecting with characters more if you slow down your viewing.


Nickelodeon

To me, there’s a little more magic in the “slow-watch,” and a big part of that magic is tied to the passage of time. Watching a show as it airs, especially something on network TV, means the characters are aging alongside you. For shows that run more than just a few seasons, you might go through significant personal growth during the course of the show, and you might find parallels in some of the characters you’ve been watching that whole time. 

That’s one of the reasons The Legend of Korra made a bigger impression on me than Avatar: The Last Airbender. Both are amazing shows and some of the best animated series ever made. But I watched Avatar over a period of about two months, whereas Korra was actively part of my life for two-and-a-half years. And the passage of time — real-world time — added layers to Korra’s journey that I don’t think I would have felt in an abbreviated timeframe. Between the premiere and the finale, I moved across the country, made new friends, tried things I had never done before, and learned how to deal with failure. I wouldn’t have had time for all of those things in a binge viewing, and I wouldn’t have felt as connected to Korra doing those things over the course of the show.

Binge-watching doesn’t negate that character growth or your ability to connect to it, but I do think it offers a more limited version of those things compared to weekly watching. 

To binge or not to binge

There are plenty of good reasons to binge-watch shows. Maybe you’re trying to power through a slow start or a bad season that would be agonizing for you to watch at a slower pace. Maybe your friends are terrible about spoiling things for you. Maybe you have limited free time, or maybe you just want to maximize your subscription to minimize how much you spend on streaming each month

But, to me, binge-watching is the TV viewing equivalent of a fling. It’s a sudden burst of excitement that’s over quickly and doesn’t stay with you. Slow-watching a series is more like a long-term relationship — a commitment, and sometimes a test of patience, but also something more affecting and more valuable. And streaming services seem to agree: Although Netflix is still releasing entire seasons at once, Disney Plus, HBO, Hulu and Prime Video all release new episodes weekly. 

So the next time you find a show you’re really excited about watching, consider slowing things down and letting yourself luxuriate in it.



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Overwatch 2 Beta Begins Tomorrow: Start Time and What to Expect

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Overwatch 2 starts its second beta on Tuesday, June 28, for PC and console players. The beta begins at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT and runs through Monday, July 18. Sign-ups are still open for a chance to participate, and you can still get guaranteed access if you’re willing to spend some cash.  

The next beta will be our first look at Junker Queen, a new tank hero who first appeared in posters on the Junkertown map that was released in 2017. Fans have been hoping to play her ever since, and five years later, we’re finally getting the chance. The new beta also adds a new hybrid map, Paraiso. The developers have laid out their goals for the beta, which include testing server capacity and hero balance. 

Overwatch 2 is the sequel to Blizzard’s class-based shooter, featuring two teams of five players fighting over objectives. Overwatch devs announced in June that the game will be free to play and will launch in early access on Oct. 4. The first beta injected a frantic pace into the game, which was a welcome change from the slower, more grinding pacing that’s plagued Overwatch in recent years. The free-to-play PvP element will bring the game more in line with other competitive shooters, like Valorant and Apex Legends.

How to sign up for the Overwatch 2 beta

Anyone can sign up for Overwatch 2’s second beta, but it’s not technically an open beta. The game will add people gradually as it ramps up server capacity, and the first big wave of beta access will happen on July 5, according to the beta FAQ page. Even if you were in the previous beta, you’ll need to sign up again. 

Here’s how to sign up:

1. Go to the Overwatch 2 beta site.
2. In the top right corner, log in to your Blizzard Account.
3. At the bottom of the Overwatch 2 beta page, choose your platform (and region for PlayStation players).
4. Then hit Request Beta Access.

If you want guaranteed beta access on June 28, you can purchase the Watchpoint Pack ($40). In addition to beta access on day one, you’ll also get two legendary character skins, a unique player icon and enough digital currency to buy the first two battle passes.

How do I download the Overwatch 2 beta?

Blizzard hasn’t released details on downloading the second beta, but it should follow the same process as the first beta. Here’s how that worked:

1. Log in to your Battle.net account and navigate to Overwatch on the game launcher.

2. In the bottom left, click the Game Version drop-down.

3. Select Overwatch 2 Tech Beta to install.

4. When the download is complete, hit the blue Play button to start.

Junker Queen spinning her axe

Junker Queen’s ultimate ability helps her close distance and end fights quickly.


Blizzard

Junker Queen abilities

The new beta finally gives fans a chance to play as Junker Queen, a hero we’ve all been excited about and/or thirsting over since she was first teased on the Junkertown map. Here’s what we know about Junker Queen’s abilities, from the Overwatch Twitter account:

New Hybrid Map: Paraiso

The beta also adds Paraiso, a new hybrid map that explores Lucio’s home, including the DJ’s Clube Sinestesia. As with all hybrid maps, players will start by attacking or defending a control point, and if the attackers succeed, players will spend the rest of the map attacking or defending a payload. 

An underground club with light-up floor

Clube Sinestesia is where support hero Lucio found fame as a DJ.


Blizzard

For more Overwatch 2 news, check out everything we learned from the Overwatch 2 reveal event.



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Icebergify: How To Create an Iceberg of Your Most Listened to Spotify Artists

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Been on social media today? Seen those bizarre musical Icebergs floating around in your feed? You’re not alone. Screenshots like this have been doing the rounds today, particularly on Twitter. 

It’s all created via the magic of a website called Icebergify.

Using the data from your Spotify listening habits, Icebergify creates an Iceberg of your most listened to artists ranked by popularity. At the tip of the iceberg? Your favourite “mainstream” artists. Your Taylor Swifts, your Beyonces, your Drakes, etc. The further down you go, the more obscure it becomes. It looks a little like this…

If you want to see your own iceberg, you can head to the website directly. Be warned: it does require your Spotify log-in. 

The Icebergify website was developed by Akshay Raj, a freshman studying Computer & Data Science at Rice University. He says he has no plans to monetize the site or use the data collected — which is limited to your username, Spotify account ID and the top 50 tracks and artists listened to over the past few years. 

How does it work? It’s fairly simple. Icebergify takes your most listened to artists and sorts them according to popularity rankings. Streams, shares, saves, likes, and followers are all taken into account. This is why Beyonce might be at the top of your iceberg, but lesser known artists are at the bottom, beneath the ocean. Also worth noting: It seems like Icebergify is being flooded due to its surprising popularity. Head back later if it doesn’t immediately work.





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Apple’s First Mixed-Reality Headset May Sport New M2 Processor

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Apple’s first mixed-reality headset could come with the company’s flagship M2 processor, just one of the “deluge” of new products the company is expected to unveil in the next year, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported Sunday.

The M2, unveiled in June, features redesigned central processing units and a significant memory increase, which would provide a significant boost to the much-rumored headset over the previous M1 chip.

The much-rumored headset incorporating both virtual and augmented reality environments is expected to provide a boon to the gaming industry. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said earlier week that the headset — expected to be announced in January 2023 — would be the most complicated product Apple has designed yet.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been vocal about his excitement about AR. Earlier this week, he explained that the tech industry is still in the “very early innings” of this technology’s possibilities.

“I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities we’ve seen in this space, and sort of stay tuned and you’ll see what we have to offer,” Cook told China Daily.

Other products Gurman expects to debut in the next 12 months include four iPhone 14 models, three Apple Watch variations, several Macs with M2 and M3 chips, iPads, updated AirPods Pro earbuds, a fresh HomePod, and an upgraded Apple TV. 

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read moreApple AR, VR Headset Rumors: WWDC, Release Rumors, M1 Chip and More



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