Netflix has undeniably shook up the game with its release structure for the original series House of Cards - mainly that there was no release structure. Netflix simply dumped the entire first season (all 13 episodes) into our hungry mouths on February 1st. It was an invitation to binge, in fact it was a mandate to marathon.
No more waiting till next week. No more structure. Just you, on your couch, with a bottle of wine and a couple of boxes of take-out Chinese. And 3, maybe 4, maybe even 5 of 6 hours of lip-smacking political intrigue. I'll admit, I ate it up. It took me approximately 72 hours to blow through season one of House of Cards.
But the problem for me (and millions of other marathoners out there) has to do with spoilers. When you watch a week-to-week cable series, everyone is on the same page. As long as everyone is caught up on the latest episode, you don't have to worry about ruining the ending to your pals. People who write about it don't have to worry about ruining everything for their readers. The rules are set.
But with House of Cards, Netflix has made it hard on us. Since I know everything that happens in season one, any conversation I have about the show is like navigating a minefield of Kevin Spacey references and Kate Mara compliments. Even if I try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, my subconscious will betray me. I know that I'll end up leaking something, and that makes me that guy.
Netflix doesn't want me to be that guy. Surely in response to all of the talk about House of Cards and spoilers, Netflix has released a short little ad that tackles that very issue.
Netflix wants you to watch responsibly:
But they've made it so damn hard.
Netflix made a show that was designed for marathoning and spoiling. Sure, I'd never seen The Wire until it was already over, and I watched the whole series in a matter of weeks. And though I had a blast flying through episode after episode of that great show, I knew that it wasn't actually designed for that kind of viewing. House of Cards most definitely is. When Netflix tells you that the "next episode will begin in 20 seconds," you know it's not a suggestion. It's a command.
And then you're left with the nagging feeling that you're going to spoil it for all of your friends. Ah, screw 'em. I regret nothing.