I tell myself, “one episode. Because that’s how long it takes to eat pad thai.” I look at the mounting books on my nightstand, books I keep buying (with the best of intentions!) and leaving to languish, unread. Using the same kind of logical gymnastics that I’ll soon begin to associate with plotlines in Gossip Girl, I tell myself: this is all going to be just fine. I will write/clean/live later… after I reward myself for writing/cleaning/living.
You can probably take it from here. So easily – even without the aid of my clicking! – one episode of Gossip Girl on Netflix becomes four. I take a break between seasons one and two to compare my own headband collection to Blair Waldorf’s. Now it’s morning! Now Serena and Dan are back together! My cat begins to judge me. She sits on top of the keyboard (which is on top of my chest) as if to say: stop. The computer, too, has acknowledged my problem. “Are you still watching?” it asks me gently, like a friend who’s just worried about me.
Hello. My name is Brittany, and I’m addicted to Netflix.
Everyone can have a night of slippage, a day of of “treat yo’self” (Parks & Rec S4, anyone?), but it has begun to worry me that I crave this numbing feeling from my entertainment. Netflix has made it so easy for me to not only escape into a world, but live in it for hours and hours and hours as the real one plods by outside. And sure, everyone deserves to take a break after working hard (30 Rock S3, anyone?), but when does a “break” become a lifestyle choice?
In the past three weeks, I’ve gone to work, I’ve come home and I’ve done this:
Watched 15.5 episodes of Bob’s Burgers, or all of season 1 (and then some.)
Watched 13 episodes of Archer, or all of season 4
Watched 5 episodes of Parks and Recreation (season 4).
Watched 33 episodes of Gossip Girl – a.k.a. all of season 1, most of season 2.
Two episodes of Sex and the City, misc.
Two episodes of Girls, season three.
Watched 7 episodes of Mad Men, season 6.
Watched 8 episodes of True Detective – (though this was at least a semi-social activity, a part of “date weekend.”)
This, my friends, is 37.04 hours of television in three weeks. This almost two days of my life. This is disgusting.
We all apparently binge-watch, these days. There’s even something delightful (if irksome, spoiler-wise) about the online communion that occurs when it seems we’re ALL watching ALL of House of Cards/Game of Thrones/Mad Men/Orange is the New Black/True Detective, somehow simultaneously. But at least those shows carry a tad more highbrow clout – you want to watch them because to watch them is to participate in a cultural dialogue. Gossip Girl ended years ago, and as much as I’ve grown to love Serena and Dan and Little J, I’d be hard-pressed to make a case for that program’s enduring social relevance.
This urge to go numb must actually come from a deep, guilty, well of procrastination. When I stream a show for hours, I am avoiding my life.
There is a balance, somewhere, between over-indulging and whiny self-flagellation – there must be, as neither are useful mindsets for people who wish to accomplish anything. Finding the balance in my case involves banishing Netflix and turning on the old-school regular TV. I’m in need of the kind of programming that exists on a schedule, the kind you can’t just access all the time, the kind that doesn’t hold you hostage into the wee hours of the night.