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By Matt Rodriguez

Daredevil and the Art of Binge-Watching

Netflix released all 13 episodes of Marvel’s Daredevil on Friday, April 10. By early Saturday evening the credits on the season finale were already rolling, having spent the better part of the past 24 hours watching each episode back-to-back.

 

I’m not the only one, either, as the practice of binge-watching has taken off in recent years mainly due in part to Netflix’s strategy of uploading entire season’s of its shows all at once and letting viewers decide how they want to watch. Not only is it changing how people view television, but it’s also changing how shows are made as well.

 

Daredevil was made with binge-watching in mind as early as its initial planning stages. “You can't deny that there will be binge-viewing,” Marvel Entertainment's Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada told Comic Book Resources last year. “The Netflix model offers us the advantage of being able to construct the show in a manner that is very different than a weekly network TV show.”

 

The biggest difference is in its story presentation. When an entire season is unleashed to the masses all at once, individual episodes don’t need to rely on end-of-the-episode cliffhangers to entice viewers to return the following week. Daredevil is very much a slow burn, even if you do watch every episode in succession.

 

Wilson Fisk, the primary antagonist of the series, doesn’t appear until late in the third episode despite his presence being felt in the premiere. There’s also no mention of his supervillain namesake, the Kingpin, anywhere in the series either. There’s no urgency to reveal everything as quickly as possible because there’s less of a risk of losing viewers when compared to typical television formats.

 

“The simplest way to put it in comic book terms is that it's the difference between writing a monthly comic series as opposed to writing a graphic novel,” says Quesada. “You can tell the same story within the same page count in both formats, but you may parse out that information or construct your story differently because of how it's going to be delivered and consumed.”

 

It’s easy to lose interest in a show when you have 7 days between episodes as opposed to only waiting 20 seconds before the next one automatically starts playing.

 

Unfortunately what works so well for Netflix can also work against it. Because everything is released all at once, there’s a much smaller timeframe to make an impact. A typical show’s season lasts for months and gives fans the opportunity to discuss various theories between weekly episodes about what’s going to happen on future episodes or where the season is headed. Speculation is half the fun. That all disappears when the premiere is available at the same time as the finale.

 

Even though only a few days have passed since Daredevil has been released, it’s easy to feel left behind if you haven’t watched it all yet. It’s a sprint to see who can finish first. Any discussion and speculation comes later.

 

Much of the speculation about Daredevil revolves around what’s in store for Season 2. It’s not a question of “if” we’re getting a second season but more of “when” as the show has received acclaim from critics and fans alike. Taking every episode in one big dose just means the wait will be that much longer.