I binge-watch tv. As mentioned in a previous post, I recommend that you consume your television as you do your food. Pair up your television choices to maximize your emotional well-being at the end of the experience. I like to pair up a bitter edgy drama with a nice calming popcorn comedy. I like to end the evening on a calm note.
But how often should you watch television? In this age of endless choices, we can watch an entire series in a weekend. In a day, even. I often do. Is this good for me? What do I miss out on when I do? Is it healthy to forgo the art I might have been making, the social contact? Or is tv a welcome intellectual and emotional adventure, albeit 10 episodes at a time? How much is too much?
To give you an idea, I’m a serious binge-watcher. When I had a bad breakup, I watched all episodes of Arrested Development in a row. I never laughed so hard in my life. Good laughter. I am forever grateful for those stupid shows. I don’t remember exactly how long it took, but it was a very accelerated period. I watched all episodes of House of Cards in one evening. There was no way I was going to let my eyes turn away from Kevin Spacey‘s creepy mug. I mean, eesh. Here are other shows that I have watched through one episode after another:
- Bleak House
- The Fall
- The Killing (seasons 1 and 2 only, protagonist was too much of a train wreck)
- American Horror Story
- Orange is the New Black
- Top of the Lake
- Law and Order
- Law and Order: SVU (for a while until the violence and ick became too much)
- Law and Order: Criminal Intent
In some cases I watched television while doing something else (art, writing emails, paying bills, exercise). It’s only for the highest quality shows that I pay strict attention. In some cases the series spanned such a long time that I binged sections of it at a time in between “life”.
I believe I am making active, intelligent choices about what I watch. One of my favorite activities is mulling over the movie or television descriptions on Hulu or Netflix, reading reviews, and reading about directors. I have rated almost 3000 items on Netflix, so its recommendation algorithm is uncanny. If Netflix and OKCupid combined forces, they’d form one hell of a dating company. Netflix has me all figured out. Also, binge-watching is the only way I can really follow story arc, character development, plot. If I watch episodes separated by too much time, I lose all that. My interest would also wane. I have a short attention span. It’s like picking up some long-lost thing and having to thread the needle again before the story can get going. It just doesn’t work for me.
But still, I am a little conflicted. In my metaphor of television as food, I wouldn’t eat ten meals in a row. I’d have some problems. And am I missing out on art? Exercise? Friends?
Soooo. Hm! Jury is out. I’m probably going to continue binge-watching, but I don’t have a great justification for why it is better than getting off your butt other than “I like it.”