This week’s writing is about my obsession with television shows. I have always loved watching TV shows – more so than movies actually. However, since being out on my own, and with only my cats to take care of, I have gotten into this habit called binge-watching. I love to binge-watch television shows. It pretty much takes up most of my free time.
I love TV Shows. My favorite shows range from the 1980s detective show Remington Steele to the 90s political drama The West Wing to the more current horror/sci-fi series FRINGE . Not only do I love watching TV Shows, I love talking about them and obsessing over them with my friends. I really do feel bad though for those people in my life who couldn’t care less about television, nevermind listening to me talk about the adventures of Captain Janeway and her crew. So binge-watching was really just another step in my obsession.
The term “binge-watching” is used quite frequently these days, but I think it is interesting to think about how the terms has grown to be used so commonly. In the past, the term “binge” has been connected with food – consuming excessive amounts of food or drink in a short amount of time. Now the term is being connected with how people watch television. Nolan Feeney, in the article “When, Exactly, Does Watching a Lot of Netflix become a Binge?“, answers the question: How many episodes is a binge?
Four episodes, if you’re watching dramas. If you walk away before the fourth episode, people I’ve spoken with generally agreed, all you did was have a little TV time. But start the fourth episode . . . and you’re squarely in binge territory.
The idea of binge-watching is not new; we just have a new term for it: marathon. Though I don’t think that “marathon” quite has the same obsessive feeling that “binge-watching” does. Networks air a number of episodes in a row, and we sit and watch however many we want. Now we have access to multiple episodes whenever we want (via On Demand, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and others), not just when the networks decide to run a marathon.
We live in a world of instant gratification, and websites that have entire series of television shows bring a whole new level to our obsessions. I admit it. I love it! However. I have recently noticed a few things that concern me. How I managed to see clearly through the haze of smoke coming from my burnt out blu-ray player, I will never know. I had a reality check when I went to my dad’s house for a visit and brought the first season of The West Wing with me. My dad had never seen it, and I was eager for him to catch the fever. Dinner had been prepared, and we settled on the couch with our TV trays and proceeded to watch the first episode. By the time it was over, we had finished dinner. While the credits rolled, we cleared the plates and cleaned up a bit. Out of habit I let the DVD player continue on to the next episode. I made myself comfortable on the couch, but my dad’s reaction was “Are we watching another one?” My automatic reaction was: “There are four episodes on the disk, of course we are going to keep watching.” Though he had liked the first episode, he was not used to just sitting around for hours watching television. This got me thinking about what is considered “normal” television viewing. It was the first time that I had sat down and thought about what effect binge-watching was having on my life (see Day 21 of my 500 Word Challenge to read more about how television has taken over my life). All of my friends are the same as I am. We barely take a second to question if we are going to watch another episode – even if it means we may be late to work or will have trouble getting up on time the next morning. So, I decided to talk to my friends, think about it a little more, and then write about it. I am after all trying to get myself to write more!
As the title of this post implies, this is only Part 1 of what I think will be a 3-part series. For the upcoming posts, I want to talk about my thoughts on the good and the bad of binge-watching. Look for Part 2 next week.