It’s All in How You View It: Binge Watching vs. Live Watching

As we near the end of Hotel Del Luna, and as I recently blew my way through Romance is a Bonus Book, some discussions with my kbesties got me thinking — does binge watching a drama change the experience? Or is it better to watch it live? Come see what we think!

There are pros and cons to binge watching versus live watching. We’ll go over those, and then which way we prefer to watch our dramas and why.

PROS to binge watching

Karie the Maknae: When I binge a drama, I find it easier to pick up on nuances — the little details that become important later on and add depth to characters and plot. Also, cliffhangers are bearable because I can just press play! And by avoiding the week-long gap between episodes, I don’t forget things.

Kdrama Jen: When I binge watch, I can immerse myself fully in the experience. There is a kind of frenetic excitement that comes with being able to click “next episode.” There are cliffhangers, but they only leave you suspended there for a few minutes. It’s so rewarding. And, as Karie the Maknae said, all of the details and craft is not lost from week to week. When a phrase is repeated with intention, you really understand it and can appreciate the writer or director’s purpose. I really prefer to binge-watch because then you are with the characters and still feeling what they are feeling as they encounter difficulties and triumphs. It is a much more intense experience.

PROS to live watching

Karie the Maknae: The pros to live watching is that you get to see it in real time! And you can avoid any potential spoilers.

Kdrama Jen: The advantage to live watching comes from being part of a drama watching community. It is entertaining to pitch a hypothesis or predict a plot point. There is something special about being able to call or text after watching and say, “WHAT WAS THAT??” It is also fun to jump onto Twitter or Facebook and see what everyone else is thinking at the same time.

CONS to binge watching

Karie the Maknae: I have to admit that binge watching tests my personal discipline. It’s very easy to press play on the next episode instead of going to sleep! I’ve also found that it’s easier to see the flaws in the writing when I watch the episodes back to back, since I don’t have time to forget the little details in between episodes!

Kdrama Jen: Umm… Binge-watching can be a huge problem for anyone with a family, job, or daily life. I admit it. I have to be very careful about watching something that has already aired. If I am going to jump into a drama that has multiple episodes available, I make sure I have time in my schedule. So, it has to be a long weekend (or a night when I don’t have to get up the next day). That is the only way I can binge-watch and still hold a job, maintain relationships with other humans, and in general be a productive member of society. I also tend to binge-watch if I am home sick. It somehow makes being miserable and ill seem so much better!

CONS to live watching

Karie the Maknae: So the flip side is that the pros to binge watching become the cons of live watching. I miss out on nuances and sometimes forget details that might end up being important later.

Kdrama Jen: I hate waiting. It is a huge con for me that I have to wait for a week to find out what happened, and by then I have lost some of the excitement of the moment. Sometimes I get around this by watching the end of the last episode again, just so I can recapture the feeling!

Are there dramas that benefit from binge watching OR being watched live?

Karie the Maknae: So hindsight is 20/20, but I think that Hotel Del Luna would definitely been better as a binge watch — I needed that constant connection to appreciate the story more deeply. The same for Romance is a Bonus Bookthe slow sections didn’t feel that slow to me because I was able to press play on the next episode RIGHT THEN. Crowned Clown and Watcher will benefit from something like a live watch once I get to them — I’ll need the mental break!

Kdrama Jen: So, there was something about live-watching Goblin, Healer, and While You Were Sleeping that made them feel even more exciting because I had to wait for resolution from week to week. These were also dramas I was watching live with family members, so we kept talking about them while waiting for the next episodes. I think a binge-watch is better for anything that has nuance or is very dialogue-dependent. I think Melo is My Nature will make a better binge-watch because there are so many story threads and such rich and meaningful conversations. Also, I will admit it openly right here: Heirs was actually better as a binge-watch! In the case of Heirs, though, it was more because I could fast forward through the slow parts. So, maybe binge-watching is something I would recommend for a show you have seen before? Fast forwarding through Heirs allowed me to experience the awesome Kim Woo Bin storyline and fast-forward through some of the scenes in America that made me cringe!

What do you think, drama fans? Do you have a preferred way to watch your dramas? Why?

Until the next binge, we remain —

The Fangirls

Dramas with a Side of Kimchi

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5 thoughts on “It’s All in How You View It: Binge Watching vs. Live Watching

  1. Personally, I prefer to binge-watch. Unlike Chinese dramas, k-dramas are shown only twice a week. For a regular 16-episode drama, I’d have to watch it for two months to finish it, like I did with Hotel Del Luna, my first watching live. While waiting for the next episodes to air, I most likely would forget about the storyline or the excitement would wane a bit. Along the way, there is bound to be some “lost feeling”.

    When I binge watch, I can skip through those scenes I find annoying or make me moody and re-watch those that are cute, fluffy or simply make you feel good in mood! Waiting for a drama to finish airing before watching it also means I can check out the ending before deciding to watch it. Although I don’t reject sad endings and loathe/detest open endings, i normally choose those with a good ending. I mean, why bother to watch drama if only to cry buckets and be in a foul mood the whole week at least-life is often like that, why bother to visit dramaland!

    • You’re totally right about the endings, Jess! I remember when Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food came out — I didn’t have time to watch it, despite being a HUGE Jung Jae In fan. When I heard that it ended horribly, I decided to watch something else!

  2. Most of us are millenials and we have some boomers, right? 😀 So, we all did our time live-watching our favorite shows before cable, Internet, and streaming was invented! This is the era of binge! Bring on the binge! I love it!

    But I agree that we can lose track of time binging, and some dramas are so intense you want that break in between. I tend to watch darker, crime, mystery and makjang mayhem dramas these days so even I find myself overwhelmed after 3 episodes. Sometimes even 2.

    • Um…. I do not think there are any boomers in the bloggers. LOL. Most of us are Gen X. Haha. But yes, I think most of us grew up live watching all shows.

      • Yup. Cusp/Gen X for me. And live watching is not that distant of a memory either. Waiting for the next episode of NCIS was HARD. My schedule may or may not have revolved around the night it aired.

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