Play All


Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook

Clive James

Between 1972 and 1982, Clive James wrote a weekly column about television for the London Observer. By his own account, he failed to foresee the startling upsurge of compelling dramas that would revivify the small screen in the twenty-first century.

Indeed, binge-watching through box-sets, Netflix, and other platforms is now ubiquitous and few doubt the general cultural importance of what many agree is a TV renaissance. In his encounter with the seductions of serial viewing, James, always at pains to banish the phony boundary between “high” and “low” culture, grapples with the new mythology that marks the stories now being told on television.

Television characters are now many people’s first frame of reference, where it was once classic literature; and, as James argues, this is no bad thing.