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Chernobyl and Why Some TV Shows Should Be Unbingeable

An anonymous reader shares a column [Editor’s note: the link may be paywalled]: Few television shows in recent years have been as compelling, yet as difficult to watch, as Chernobyl. The story of the hours and days following the 1986 nuclear reactor meltdown, and the many awful ways that radiation can kill, was expertly told. But it was the antithesis of one of the prevailing objectives of today’s TV producers: to make a programme viewers love so much that they binge it all in one go. Chernobyl’s horrors were so richly realised that it was unbingeable. Even though I was watching the show on Sky’s streaming service, Now TV, I found that watching in nightly instalments rather than rushing through it served only to heighten my appreciation of it. The internet has been built on instant gratification, but Chernobyl got me wondering whether we occasionally need something to hold us back.

[…] A new approach to scheduling could crank up anticipation for the next instalment or build the loyalty that comes with habit. Chernobyl had a brilliant podcast commentary that delineated the boundary between fact and fiction; I wished I had listened to it between episodes rather than at the end of the series. There are billions of smartphones in the world today. While Silicon Valley is obsessing over what comes next — whether that is augmented reality headsets or smart speakers — the versatility and ubiquity of the smartphone still provide plenty of room to experiment. From instant streaming to next-day deliveries, technology has broken the idea that good things come to those who wait. But with a little imagination, making something unbingeable could be a feature, not a bug.


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