I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to TV. Whew. Yes, I am and I know it’s been brewing for a while, but it’s become all the more clearer this month. The last half of February and these early weeks of March found your dear, sweet author suffering from a horrendous chest cold, followed by a back spasm. I know. It was a painful time and I still have an annoying residual cough. So, what did I turn to while I was willing my body to heal? None other than Netflix, who may or may not be my significant other, considering the amount of time we’ve been spending together.
So, not only am I addicted to TV – I know so many of us are – but I’m addicted to all-at-once, on demand, viewing. I am a binge watcher. I blew through House of Cards in less than a week once I really sat down and got into it. Then over this past week, I watched three whole seasons of another show that will remain nameless to avoid embarrassment. THREE SEASONS! Granted, the first was only 13 episodes…but…. Even I’m impressed. Back when I was in school, I devoured all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in record time – something like 3 months – all while juggling a heavy course load (we did happen to have an inordinate amount of snow days during the semester, and I did only have classes on 2. 1/2 days a week, but impressive nonetheless).
The same can be said for the way my roommate and I blew through three seasons of Dexter on demand in the two weeks before the fourth premiered, or the way I hungrily caught up on five seasons of Weeds (before it got too weird) during the summer I spent in Boston catching up on credits at school. And then there’s the epic viewing of Game of Thrones that occurred last March. Seasons 1 and half of 2 were no match for my viewing skills. Oh, and have I mentioned Downton Abbey yet? Because, the Crawleys and I were the best of friends when I caught season 1 on Netflix, then was lucky enough to catch a marathon of the season 2 episodes that had aired so far the next weekend, bringing me up to speed to being regular, weekly, viewing.
I might be making it sound like I have 1- no life and 2- do nothing but watch TV, but that is hardly the case. Not only am I spending my days interning, I also have time for the gym (when I’m not sick on the couch), dinner outings with friends, weekend shopping activities…I have a life, I just also have a love affair with episodic TV. I mean, come on, even Portlandia picked up on it – check it out for yourself (Portlandia also happens to be a show I watched all at once….)
What I love about on-demand TV and Netflix, is that all the past seasons/episodes are there for the taking. You can literally fall into the void and just keep hitting ‘next episode’. I love it because it really lets me immerse myself in the world the writers and actors are creating. Game of Thrones was amazing when I could just keep watching, chapter by chapter, and really feel like I was in Westeros. Dexter’s twisted mind games were so much fun to fall into when we didn’t have to wait week to week to see how he was going to wrangle out of his close calls. I’ve heard Homeland is amazing to binge watch, but I was lucky enough to have Showtime when it began and was hooked from the beginning. Trust me, waiting that week in between episodes was torture (see what I did there….).
I think one of my favorite things about binge watching is finding a show on Netflix or On Demand that I always wanted to watch, but never had the time or ability to (or they are no longer). Once Friday Night Lights hit Netflix, I was all over it (Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t lose!), I also caught Firefly, and one of my all time favorites, Arrested Development, all thanks to Netflix. Arrested Development took me a ridiculously short time to go through, and I have since re-watched it multiple times. You can bet when the next season becomes available all at once, I’ll be taking a day to devour them, too!
Even better, because so many people have fallen into the same system that I have, binge watching, TV executives and networks are getting wise to the pattern and offering more availability. Hulu Plus, the paid subscription service, houses all current episodes of many series airing right now, as well as all or most back seasons of those series. Further, ABC just this past winter offered all episodes of one of my current addictions, Scandal, on ABC.com for new viewers to catch up or for current viewers to refresh their memories. HBO has begun offering more content on HBO GO, which I LOVE, more behind the scenes/interviews, on top of all the same on demand offerings provided through cable.
Add in Roku boxes, Apple TV, Blu-Ray players with wifi, and you have endless access to all of your tv dreams. It’s a binge watcher’s dream come true.
The only downside to binge watching is, once you’re caught up on a show, you’re stuck waiting week to week, hiatus to hiatus, for the next fix.
What are some of your favorite shows to binge watch? I know I’m not alone.
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