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The Honeymooners and Twilight Zone Marathons, Binge Watching, and Streaming in 2021

The Twilight Zone marathon on SyFy and The Honeymooners marathon on WPIX-11 have become annual fixtures on New Year's Eve in my household.  What better way to close out the year than watching some classic television on a quiet evening at home?  If you throw in some Chinese food, my wife and I can't think of a better way to celebrate the end of one year and the new beginnings of the next!

We'll comb through the schedule and set the DVR to record our favorites and then watch as many as we can.  The binge-watching gets pushed aside momentarily for about 5 minutes when the ball drops in Times Square, but then it's immediately back to the Honeymooners until we fall asleep.  We'll spend the next few days combing through the DVR to watch the episodes we love before our annual viewings of Breaking Bad and The Sopranos begin.  Hey, we're creatures of habit.  

For many, these annual marathons have become a yearly tradition.  Why are these kinds of marathons so beloved?  

I for sure enjoy a good marathon, but why do so many of us feel nostalgic about them?  Why do so many of us still go out of our way to watch all or parts of them?

If I had to wager a guess as to why these types of marathons make us so nostalgic is that I'd say marathons were the original streaming service.  Back in the 80s and 90s, you just didn't have access to popular movies or television programs like we do today.  These annual marathons would often be the one time a year that our favorites would be so available to us at all.  

These days, we can click on any number of apps or Internet-based streaming services to view nearly anything Hollywood ever produced.  Even the entire series of our favorite shows have become available on DVD or BluRay at reasonably affordable prices for us collectors of physical media.  

The act of binge-watching, either the entire series or movie franchise, or just a handful of episodes in a row, has increased in popularity in recent years.  Perhaps it's a sign of our decreasing attention span as a society or our demand for instant gratification. Still, many content services have followed Netflix's lead and now release an entire season of new episodes all at once.  That way, viewers can watch the whole season of new shows in one sitting and not have to wait week-to-week for the next installment and months for a story's conclusion.

Is that a good thing?  Maybe.  Convenient, yes.  Although, personally, I'd argue it's made the television marathon much less "special," especially for younger generations.  Television marathons include commercials and frequently have edited content, while the streaming platforms typically do not.  With DVD sets or a streaming platform, you can create your own commercial-free marathon any time or any day that you feel like it.

So, if streaming services make it that much easier and convenient, why do I (and so many) still enjoy a good regular television marathon?  

Speaking for myself, it's actually more convenient.  I like having a physical copy of things.  We collect DVDs of movies and television shows when we find them cheap enough.  However, it takes two remotes and several minutes of switching the television source over to get the BluRay player up and running to just start the movie.  It takes time, which these days I'm very short on.  With a television marathon, you can let someone else (the network) do the programming for you.  Just click over to the appropriate channel, grab a snack, and enjoy!

Secondly, it reminds me of why I enjoyed the show in the first place.  Occasionally I'll see a long-forgotten episode or, even on occasion, one that I've never seen before.  I usually look for and go right to my favorite episodes or movies on streaming services.  A lot of the good stuff gets forgotten or takes years before I see it again that way.    

There's also a community about watching marathons, like how television used to be before streaming platforms took over.  I'm sure it doesn't take much for us to remember an event on television that the entire country seemingly talked about.  The last significant event I remember the whole country talking about, the real water-cooler conversation communal type, was a season premiere or finale of The Walking Dead.  That was before the show turned into a giant dumpster fire, of course.  

People couldn't get enough of these types of shows, and it was a GIANT event that nearly everyone talked about when a new episode aired.  Going back further, reality competition shows like American Idol and Survivor, or even the mid-1990s pro wrestling heyday, were communal events that people would host "watch parties" hang at a friend's house as a recurring social event.  

Yes, we can always sit somewhere individually and watch what we want, when we want.  When the marathon starts on TV, we're all at the same party.  We can invite friends over and watch if we'd like.  It can even just be on in the background of holiday parties and start the discussion.  

Times have changed, sure, but it's communal in a different sense.  We can tweet, blog, or Facebook about our favorites as they air in real-time.  Others can comment and debate about their favorite or least favorites.  Just open your favorite social media app, and you'll see a slew of people commenting on the episodes.  You can start or join conversations or eavesdrop on complete strangers discussing the same thing you're watching!  It's interesting in a sense because it creates a bond, even if momentary, that creates a sense of community.  

The social media aspect also helps bring in new viewers.  While these subscription services tend to use algorithms to provide content that it thinks you want to watch, folks who were never exposed to shows like The Honeymooners would likely never turn it on.  Younger people might think, "oh, that's old-fashioned and out of style," or potentially even just turned off by the black and white film.  The social media "trends" could steer someone towards a quote, clip, or meme that makes them say, "I have to turn this on."  

In a similar vein, some people may just stumble upon a new show while scrolling through the channel listings.  They may notice a show that's on all day and think to themselves, "what's so special about this?" and try it out.  Someone may even just be "channel surfing" (remember those days) and see a few minutes of an episode, get hooked, and before they know it, they are three episodes deep.  

The higher price point on DVD sets prohibits most people from randomly picking up a series they aren't already fans of and taking a chance on something new.  Why would anyone spend upwards of $50 or $100 for a tv series that you may not like?  I don't blame them.

Unfortunately, this year, I don't have the time to go through and post the listings for the Twilight Zone or Honeymooner's marathon schedules.  What I can do, however, is post some links for you to check out articles I've written in the past about both of them, which I hope you'll click over and enjoy.

Please CLICK HERE to read a fun little piece from 2020 on My Top 10 Twilight Zone New Year's Eve Marathon Episodes.

If you're a fan of The Honeymooners, please CLICK HERE to read this feature, also from 2019, about my Top 5 Favorite Honeymooners New Year's Eve Marathon episodes.

All in all, I can sum this up by saying technology undoubtedly makes our lives easier.  From the high-definition picture and pristine sound quality on BluRay discs to the quickness and ease of downloading or streaming through many online platforms, technology has definitely changed and enhanced the way we watch our favorites.  Come holiday marathon time, though, I know exactly where I want to be:  watching the old school way, along with everyone else, as the television networks air episode after episode of our favorite shows.