Monday, June 3, 2013

On The Joys of Binge-Watching TV

I am a woman of many interests.

Law, writing, running, romance novels, reading blogs, baking and cooking are all things that occupy my days in some combination. But as a mostly normal and generally healthy person, I understand that I can't fit it all into every day. I don't usually work or write on the weekends. I don't run every day. I would like to be able to say I make an actual dinner every single night, but it doesn't always work out that way and besides, that's why grilled cheese and cold cereal were invented.

But there is one thing that I do every single day, without exception. I've been known to stay up late or wake up extra early to make sure I get my fix. I spent a huge amount of my leisure time doing it, and have been known to skip nights out or cancel plans in favor of this critical activity.

And what is it, you may ask?

I watch TV. I love TV

From the time I get home at night until the time I go to sleep, the TV is on. I watch while I'm making dinner, while I'm eating dinner, and while I'm doing all manner of other things and nothing at all. 

David, of course, shares this obsession of mine, and it's entirely possible that his love of TV surpasses mine which is lucky because if we didn't have this in common, we probably never would have gotten married in the first place. It's impossible to count the number of hours we have spent together in front of the TV, but sufficed to say it is definitely an unhealthy amount. And we love it.

During the height of our TV season we probably watch a combined 40 shows and are never without a show to park ourselves in front of, either together or separately, but once summer rolls around and our favorite shows are in re-runs, what is this TV loving couple to do? Well, I don't know what anyone else does, but our answer is usually to find a few shows that neither of us have ever watched, download all the seasons, and spend our summers catching up.

If you've never watched anything this way, I recommend you come up with something you haven't watched, and get to it immediately, because it's an amazing way to consume a show. Normally you have a wait 7 whole days in between episodes, but when you're binge watching, all the episodes are right at your fingertips.  If you're a normal TV watcher you can probably make a decently sized series last for quite awhile, but if you're anything like us, once all those glorious episodes are just a mouse-click away you will lose any semblance of self-control.

Take the time we decided to watch 24. Neither of us had ever seen it, and the series was long over, so one day a few summers ago, we downloaded all eight seasons. We watched the first episode, and we were hooked the very first time Jack Bauer shouted "dammit" into his cell phone. You would think that it would have taken us all summer to watch the series' 192 episodes, but you would be wrong. Because once we started we couldn't stop. We rushed home from work every day to start watching and kept right on watching until it was approximately three in the morning and we were propping our eyes open with toothpicks and saying "just one more" over and over again like drug addicts jonesing for a fix. We consumed all 192 episodes in three weeks, and stopped caring about mundane things like eating and sleeping and working because there were terrorists to kill, and CTU moles to uncover, dammit.

It was, without a doubt, our finest hour. 

We've watched The West Wing all at once, the first three seasons of Fringe before we caught up to real-time, Netflix's sublime House of Cards and most recently, I myself watched the twenty-four episodes in the inaugural season of NBC's Chicago Fire in just five days. 

A quick word of caution...Watching TV this way can lead one to dispense with reality to the point where one forgets that the characters are actors playing a role and starts to think of them as living and breathing people. For example, somewhere around the middle of season 5 of 24 we had started to really believe there was actually Sentox Nerve gas hidden somewhere in the country and that Jack was the only person who could find it. Binge watching can also lead to a minor bout of depression when the series finally comes to a close and there are no more episodes left to watch. But, in my humble, TV loving opinion, the risks are far outweighed by the satisfaction you will feel at having watched an insane amount of TV in a very short period of time, and the bragging rights you get when you can say, as I can, "I watched 8 seasons of 24 and 7 seasons of the West Wing in two months. What did you do this summer?"

So you may all be out and about doing hot weather things like swimming and hiking and sitting on the beach. But not us. We'll be bringing our hamburgers and hot dogs into our air conditioned living room and eating them in front of our exceptionally large TV as we consume episode after episode of an as-yet-undecided TV series.  

I just love summer.


  1. I've done this and I agree it's the best way to watch TV! I loved The United States of Tara and I'd seen season one, but missed the second and third, so I caught up on Netflix while I was sick. I watched them all back to back and was ready for the next season when I realized that it had been cancelled and that was it. Gaaahhh!!! But I still love to watch a series back to back. It's a great way to immerse yourself in the characters' world.

  2. A woman after my own heart. I love to binge watch. L.O.V.E. And now that we don't have cable TV any more I'm doing it all year round. Because, sure, I *could* stretch True Blood or Arrested Development out over the course of a few weeks but why on earth would I do that when I can stay up until 3a every night watching half season chunks?

  3. I totally agree. It's the only way. I love how you talk about TV. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

  4. Me too, me too! I love wasting an entire Saturday watching a whole season of a show. It's the best stress relief I know :)