Mad About Mad Men

…and other shows I’ve only watched on Netflix.

Since 2007, I have not personally owned a television.

It has been years since I have cared enough about a show to drop my ass on a couch at a designated time week after week to watch.

But in 2008, when I came down with the flu (the infamous flu that kept me away from the Brooklyn Half Marathon), I decided to start watching Friday Night Lights.  I got through the first two seasons online over the course of that week, and then watched the rest of the series online as new episodes were released.  I even got El Profesor hooked and we went back and rewatched the series from the beginning.

I never watched a single episode of Friday Night Lights on a television.

FNL was only the beginning.

Courtesy of Netflix, I have now been able to catch up on every critically acclaimed drama that I have missed out on in the past few years.  I’m looking at you Mad Men.

So now, as the world prepares to watch Season 6 on AMC, El Prof and I are sitting down for Season 5 in front of our laptops.

We’ve “discovered” – and subsequently devoured – Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, The League and Scrubs.

I have never watched any of these shows on television.  Even when I had one, it never occurred to me to tune in.

Rather than watching one episode per week, I might watch two each night, polishing off a full season in the space of two weeks.

My inner Film Studies BA wants to know what this means for the future of television.

Web-based providers of television programming, such as Netflix, are fueling a television revolution.

Rather than watching television one episode at a time, we are watching one show at a time.  We will get through an entire series before beginning a new one.  We can watch anytime, anywhere and on just about any data-driven device we choose.

If everyone is moving toward watching television programming in this way, will TV as we know it be dead in 5 years?

Umm.  Maybe.

El Profesor’s new television connects to the internet via wireless access and has a Netflix button on its remote, so that we can now watch Netflix programming on a full-sized flat screen television.

The only live programming, I believe, that has ever been watched on that television is the news, sports games and related coverage (two things that are timely and need to be watched right away in order to maintain relevance) and cooking shows not available online.

Everything else that we watch is on Netflix.

More and more, it seems, full seasons of currently airing shows are being made available online after the season completes its run.  If I can watch a full season online, in a way that accommodates my personal schedule, what does this mean for the network programming model?

One can’t be sure.

But the way that we experience television is progressing toward something very different from what it used to be.

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