Joss Whedon’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer helped set off the TV-on-DVD revolution, with die-hard fans basically bludgeoning their friends with box sets so they’d get on board and stop making fun of their “vampire-hunting cheerleader” show. But despite his personal contributions to our current binge-watching culture, Joss Whedon said he’s firmly against the model that allows viewers to shotgun whole seasons of TV in one big burst.
“I would not want to do it,” Whedon told The Hollywood Reporter this week, as part of a longer interview centered on Buffy’s 20th anniversary. “I would want people to come back every week and have the experience of watching something at the same time.” Whedon—whose career has been relatively quiet since 2015’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron—then dove deeper into the topic:
For you to have six, 10, 13 hours and not have a moment for people to breath and take away what we’ve done … to just go, “Oh, this is just part seven of 10,” it makes it amorphous emotionally. And I worry about that in our culture—the all-access all the time…The more we make things granular and less complete, the more it becomes lifestyle instead of experience. It becomes ambient. It loses its power, and we lose something with it. We lose our understanding of narrative. Which is what we come to television for. We come to see the resolve. I’m fond of referencing it, but it’s “Angela Lansbury finds the murderer.” It’s becoming a little harder to hold on to that. Binge-watching, god knows I’ve done it, it’s exhausting—but it can be delightful. It’s not the devil. But I worry about it. It’s part of a greater whole.
That being said, Whedon is enough of a realist to accept that the new model is unlikely to go away. “Obviously Netflix is turning out a ton of extraordinary stuff. And if they came to me and said, ‘Here’s all the money! Do the thing you love!’ I’d say, ‘You could release it however you want. Bye.’ If that’s how people want it, I’d still work just as hard. I’ll adapt.”