200 Episodes in One Week!
If you’re a TV watcher and you have access to Netflix Instant Streaming, you know you’ve been there. Stumbling bleary-eyed into the office, in yesterday’s rumpled clothes, yearning for coffee and with a small patch of dried drool on your cheek left over from your 30 minutes of fitful sleep. No, you aren’t an alcoholic, you’ve just indulged in a Netflix Binge. It’s okay, you’re not alone. I’m here to guide you, and show you the very best ways to make the most of your delightful new addiction.
So how does one go about binge watching TV and still function in the world? Most of it, of course, is common sense. But there are some finer points to making the most of your binge viewing experience.
To Thine Own Self Be True
It’s important to know what kind of TV viewer you are. Are you the kind that eagerly eats up every word in the entertainment press about your favorite shows? If you are, you need to choose your binge programming carefully. Either choose series that are older and out of the news or binge one season at a time as soon as it’s released to reduce the amount of time you need to avoid potential spoilers.
On the other hand, are you the kind who can skillfully dodge spoilers and go into any series unsullied by too much information? Then wait for your chosen series to be complete – it’s far more satisfying to binge if you know you can binge an entire series. Oh, the joy in seeing that you have 200 episodes to watch. That’s Netflix Nirvana.
Be Careful What You Wish For
200 episodes is great, but only if it’s a series you end up liking. Too many binges begin and end in one session, with hours wasted watching a show that ultimately turns you off. Read a few reviews from trusted sources (the kind that don’t give everything away), ask friends for recommendations, even go through some of your Netflix recommendations. Then don’t give a show more than a few episodes to capture you. If you don’t love at least something about it – a character, a premise, a setting – by the end of episode 3, cut it loose and seek out something more suited to your interests.
Early to Bed, Early to Rise
Yeah, that might have worked for Benjamin Franklin, but he wasn’t watching the last season of Breaking Bad. The ideal time for binge viewing is at night. There are fewer interruptions and, in my case, it’s a lot easier to see the TV when the sun isn’t shining on the screen. There are also fewer people awake to judge you. Plus, it gives you time to plan. You can get work and household chores out of the way before you sit down, leaving you unfettered by pesky worries while you enjoy your mindless escape. Avoid the bleary-eyed homeless person phenomenon at work by scheduling binge sessions for weekends. If you absolutely cannot wait, limit yourself to a set number of episodes (probably no more than two) by having a friend or family member intervene and make you feel guilty enough to turn it off. A good friend is one who will humiliate and taunt you until you go to bed at a reasonable hour on a weeknight. Enlist the help of the sadists in your life – they can be extremely useful.
Too Much of a Good Thing
I have to strongly caution against binge viewing 30 minute sitcoms. It’s a hard trap to avoid – they’re just so easy. The actual episodes without commercials are only about 20 minutes and it’s easy to pop them like candy. But like candy, just a few too many and you end up sick to your stomach. Funny is really best in small doses, so keep these binges to a maximum of three episodes each. I mean it, no matter how tempting it is, do not watch an entire season of How I Met Your Mother in one night. You will regret it.
The same is true for Reality TV. One episode of Hoarders is great. More than that might leave you scarred for life.
Seek and Ye Shall Find
If you’re like me, there are probably countless TV shows that you thought looked good when they originally aired, but that you never got around to watching. Too much other good stuff to watch, an unseemly time slot or (far less likely) an actual life to lead. Those are the shows that I like to look for. I troll the TV section of Netflix, looking for just those series. Sometimes I’m disappointed, but sometimes I fall into something really fun like Jericho. It wasn’t new, but it was pretty good. I binged it with my son and we have no regrets. Don’t be put off by things that only lasted a few seasons – most shows know how to properly wrap up rather than leaving viewers hanging when cancellation comes knocking. If not, a quick and casual perusal of reviews should make an unsatisfactory series conclusion evident and you can cross it off your list.
Shame is Lame
More than anything else, enjoy your binge viewing. You aren’t hurting anyone. It’s unlikely (except for the – very avoidable – work disruption) that you’re hurting yourself. There is some excellent TV out there just waiting for you. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than going to a movie and better yet, you can do it in your pajamas. And share it with your family. The snobbish few out there who find TV too pedestrian for their high class entertainment needs have clearly never seen the final episode of Six Feet Under. Don’t let them rain on your parade. Watch responsibly, hold your head up high and be proud that you know the full names of each and every character in Leverage.
What’s On Your TV?
We have a whole menagerie of binge watches going on. We’re half way through the second season of The Leftovers (that one is only available for DVD subscribers), and half way through the 7th season of Shameless (that’s streaming). We just finished the 3rd season of Schitt’s Creek (streaming) and will hopefully be starting season 2 of Life in Pieces soon (it hasn’t released to streaming yet – COME ON). I like to have a few shows I can binge on my own, so I’m waiting patiently for the second season of Glitch (streaming), using the first season of Between (streaming) as a not very satisfactory stopgap. I also eagerly await the most recent seasons of Game of Thrones and Homeland (both only available as a DVD rentals in the U.S.) So what are you binge watching? Leave me a comment – I’m always looking for good suggestions. As long as they don’t involve leaving the house, of course.