Does the binge watching culture hurt The Walking Dead?

Norman Reedus (Daryl), Michael Cudlitz (Abraham), Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (Bob)., Christian Serratos (Rosita), Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha), and Josh McDermitt (Eugene) in The Walking Dead (2010)Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Norman Reedus (Daryl), Michael Cudlitz (Abraham), Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (Bob)., Christian Serratos (Rosita), Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha), and Josh McDermitt (Eugene) in The Walking Dead (2010)Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

With so many streaming services available, many television shows are available as entire seasons all at once, and this might be hurting The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead is approaching its ninth season and there’s no reason the show can’t continue on, in some form or another, for years to come. However, now that there are so many streaming services delivering entire seasons of shows all at once, watching The Walking Dead unfold over the course of a season is becoming more and more challenging.

These days almost every show on television takes a hiatus. Some shows premiere in the fall, take a “winter break” only to return in January for a few episode before departing for a hiatus once again. The Walking Dead has 16 episode each seasons, divided into two halves with a two month break separating the two halves, and a five to six month break in between the seasons. With so many stories to follow, it can be hard to keep track of everything with so many breaks.

No one used to question the progression of episodic television. Breaks were part of the deal. Summer was a vast wasteland of reruns. All of that has changed now that streaming services like Hulu and Netflix and Amazon Prime debut entire seasons all at once. That allows fans to binge the entire season and not have to do the week-to-week wait for new episodes.

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On the one hand, having weekly episodes builds tension. It makes fans eager to see what happens next. On the other hand, though, it’s rather annoying to wait for new episodes while social media explodes with spoilers and teasers.

This is the paradox facing The Walking Dead. The show is predicated upon building a story across the season, with suspenseful moments sprinkled in throughout. Now that we know what it’s like to have entire seasons delivered instantly, it’s not as enjoyable watching a show week to week. It’s possible that The Walking Dead would work better if it was released all at once. That way the fans can watch the story unfold in a much more accessible manner without having to wait for new episodes and lose excitement and momentum. (This is what makes TWD marathons so great – you see everything laid out together, in order)

There is something to this idea. Prior to the start of Fear the Walking Dead season 4 I had a chance to see the first two episodes back to back. Seeing them together helped me understand what was happening in a way that likely wouldn’t have been as effective if I saw them a week apart.

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With so many of us binge watching shows, it’s quite possible that our collective patience as a media consuming audience prefers seeing entire seasons of shows all at once. With so much riding on The Walking Dead’s story, it might be a refreshing change to deliver the entire season all at once so fans can burn through the episodes and enjoy the thrill of the narrative without losing steam along the way.