What makes a TV show binge-worthy?
Trust me when I say it’s not always about crazy plot twists and suspenseful cliff-hangers. Shows that go on and on for more than five seasons without losing the majority of its viewership all have distinct traits that leave their audiences hooked and wanting more.
It’s true, we have vastly different motivations for binge-watching, but the following traits are tell-tale signs that a show is worth your precious time.
There’s a very good reason why trailers are very tricky and can either make or break a show. A preview has to convey all the interesting points of the storyline without giving away too much. Otherwise, we won’t even check out the pilot episode, much less binge-watch the entire thing.
Still, a good trailer can only do so much. It can only pique a viewer’s interest, but the actual episodes must be able to sustain that interest.
For starters, a good TV show is never confused about its overarching plot and is clear about its beginning, middle, and end. This way, even if the show explores sub-plots and side characters, it will never stray too far from the main plot that got our attention in the first place.
Relatable Yet Unpredictable Characters
All binge-worthy TV shows you can watch right now have well-written characters that are able to make us feel for them. You would not lose good sleep just to follow the lives of characters that you don’t care about, now would you?
At the same time, good characters cannot be 100% like us that they become too predictable. This is where complete characterization comes to play.
Take for instance Josh Radnor’s character in ‘Hunters.’ He’s a relatable character not because 90% of the world’s population has shot Nazis, but because there’s one side to him that could easily be you or me. There’s no way we can predict everything he does because well, he’s a Nazi hunter. But at the end of the day, Lonny just wants to be with someone who understands his humor and appreciates his well-thought-out analogies.
That’s why you can’t stop watching it. Lonny may not be the main character, but somehow, you can’t wait to see if he does end up finding love, because well, it might give you a clue or two about what to expect in your own life.
Have you ever watched a show that was good at first, but then after seven seasons, you’re like “Oh God, when will this end?”
Meanwhile, I’m sure you’ve binge-watched a show and didn’t even notice that you’ve flown through six seasons in one week and yet you still want more.
What sets these two shows apart is something called pacing. Storytelling is all about building and maintaining momentum. People hate filler episodes because they don’t contribute to the story we’re invested in. The best TV shows that we can’t stop watching have episodes that advance the story a little further, but always gives you something to look forward to in the next episode.
Believable Plot Twists
Plot twists are amazing — but only when used sparingly. Even shows that deal with fantasy and the supernatural have to keep a certain level of logic and believability, lest we give up and say “Okay, this makes no sense at all.”
In fact, some of the most popular family shows don’t even have huge, crazy plot twists. They mostly bank on relatability and relevance to keep entire families glued to the couch.
Something to Root for
Remember how angry people were about the finale of How I Met Your Mother? It’s because the show gave them a wonderful love story to root for, only to take it back at the last moment in favor of something we’ve been told over and over again was a bad idea. But those reactions — as negative as they were, bodes well for the show.
It means people cared enough about Ted’s love life to see the series through until the very end.
That’s how important it is that a TV show gives us something to root for. It may be a character, a relationship, or an entire story arc. When we can’t wait to see how things would pan out, we can’t help but binge the show until we know.
That wraps up our list of character traits that make a show binge-worthy. Does your favorite show have all five?