My sister, Danielle, and I are pioneers in the art of television binge-watching. We started binge-watching TV shows when you had to buy a complete series on DVD if you wanted to watch all its episodes in a completely obsessive but totally justifiable manner. We would huddle around the television, press play, and let it go for hours.
The two of us were never especially close when we were younger. She is only three years older than me, but in Danielle years she might as well have been an adult by the time I was able to tie my shoes. That we had polar opposite personalities didn’t exactly help our relationship either. She is a strong-willed firecracker while I am a classically anxious Type A.
But when Danielle had to undergo knee surgery one summer, I reluctantly fell in line to perform my sisterly duties. Amazon—at the time a recently discovered joy in my life—provided me the opportunity to buy the box set of all ten seasons of Friends for what seemed like an extremely low price of $200. (I look back on that now and cringe as I think about how I now have uninterrupted and convenient access to this entire series with my monthly less-than-$10 Netflix subscription. But I digress.)
See, I had watched a few Friends reruns with Danielle in passing, and knew the show would keep her entertained as she was laid up on the couch for the next few weeks. What I didn’t know was that this show and the rapid pace at which we consumed it would forever change the dynamic of our relationship.
Suddenly, we were quoting Joey, Ross, Phoebe, Rachel, Chandler, and Monica. We found ways to apply the normal, everyday scenarios that played out in front of us to our boring teenage existence. Whether we were guffawing at Ross’s failed attempt to conquer a spray tanning booth or tearing up over Monica’s sweet proposal to Chandler, we couldn’t help but bond over these moments that only the two of us shared.
And with every day that passed, the binge watching only continued. We had nightly sleepovers on an air mattress treacherously placed in our living room floor so that we could watch as many episodes as possible before our droopy eyelids got the better of us. Our lazy summer days weren’t spent outside, but indoors, debating whether or not we could come around to the idea of liking coffee if hanging out at Central Perk was ever a realistic option. We didn’t care about anything beyond finishing those 236 episodes of hilarity while trying to hear every one-liner over the sound of our own giggle fits.
Friends is still the show that remains our old standby, but now, this tradition has far surpassed a single ‘90s sitcom. Binge-watching, which is now made considerably easier by streaming platforms, is our little sisterly tradition. We no longer live in the same house, and our personalities are still wildly different; but when we feel each other slipping away, we browse the queue for our latest endeavor. Watching too much TV? Turns out it can be pretty healthy after all.