Binge Watch TV
Edited by Jasmin, Maria Quinney, Eng, Alma and 1 other
Scripted television programs have reached an all-time high. With so many choices, it's becoming harder to stay on top of everything that's out there. Our busy lifestyles don't make it any easier and though there are ways to fit all this great TV into your regular schedule, many people are opting to binge-watch.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that TV marathons have become quite the rage in the last few years. Netflix, in particular, has popularized the activity with its method of releasing entire seasons of a show all on one day. Binge watching, which can last for days, is actually a very quick way to consume a lot of television at once. There's no weeklong break between episodes, no waiting on the next season if you're watching an entire series, and no pesky commercials when you can fast-forward right through them.
Now, there's nothing stopping you from dropping everything and starting a binge-watch right now. However, as someone who watches way too much TV for anyone else's good, I know there's a right way and wrong way. If unprepared, you can wind up uncomfortable, hungry, or simply not enjoying a time that's meant to be fun. The following tips will be especially useful for a newbie to bingeing, but even the most seasoned marathoner is sure to get something from this extensive guide. In large part it's about the preparation, so let's start there.
Before the Binge
- 1Schedule your Binge-Watch.
- The best times to plan a TV marathon are weekends, days off, or holidays. These are typically the times in our life when we already have fewer responsibilities. If you're not a fan of cold weather, the long winter months provide ample time to clear a section off your calendar.
- Obviously you want to make sure no big events are taking place on your chosen date. Unfortunately, the "I can't make it, I'm binge-watching" excuse isn't widely accepted. Yet. So, just be sure to pick a time well enough in advance so that it doesn't come into conflict with another occasion.
- If you have young children who can't join in the fun of the marathon, you'll want to plan around their schedule. Maybe wait until a weekend when they have a play date or sleepover at a friend's house, or perhaps a trip to their grandparents' house is in order.
- Set a time limit. Everyone has their own opinion on how long a true binge-watch should be. A good place to start is with 6 episodes, which could count as an entire season depending on the show. If you're ready for something a little, or a lot, longer then why not aim for a 13-episode season? Or how about the traditional 22 to 24-episode season? It's entirely up to you, but knowing how long you plan to be cut off from the outside world can only benefit your scheduling process.
- 2Take Care of Responsibilities.
- Unless it's concern for what might happen to your favorite character if she makes a certain decision, you shouldn't be weighed down with worry during your marathon. Get your life as much in order as is possible before you get started. Buy groceries, call your mom, take the garbage out, definitely make sure your cable and Internet bills are paid, etc.
- Some responsibilities can't be taken care of and forgotten about for several hours, like, you know, living things. Your dog is going to need to outside at some point during your binge and you'll just have to accommodate that. It goes without saying you should feed them before you get started, but starting their day with a good serving of physical activity should help to keep them pretty chill during the binge. My dog obliges me in this about half of the time.
- 3Have a Show in Mind.
- Don't sit down to binge without any clue what to watch. You'll wind up scrolling through options, wasting more time on picking something than actually watching it.
- Once you've decided on something, make sure your streaming service has all the episodes you plan to watch, or that your DVR has them waiting for you.
- If you've never seen the show you plan on bingeing, you might want to at least check out the first episode prior to your planned marathon date. Perhaps even a few trailers would suffice. There's no reason to get everything ready for a specific day, or days, only to get halfway through the first episode and realize you're just not that into it. Of course, if you're about to binge a new season of something you already enjoy, go ahead and skip this step.
- 4Choose Who to Watch With.
- While I prefer to binge-watch alone - almost no one I know can live up to my binge standards - you might feel differently. If you're going to be watching with other people, make sure everyone is on the same page. Set some ground rules but don't get too serious; binge-watching shouldn't be the cause for a breakup or loss in friendship. If anything, it should bring people closer together. BUT, if you're all going into the binge with differing ideas on how it will all go down, there's going to be some disappointments. For example, are you OK if people talk during the show, or should discussions be saved for in between episodes?
- Sometimes, especially when a service like Netflix is releasing a new season or series, it can be fun to binge with your online communities. You can share the excitement of those epic moments and speculate on potential upcoming events. Since not everyone will be going at the same pace, create threads for individual episodes where you only talk about the events of, or theories that stemmed from, that episode. This way you avoid spoilers. Don't let typing on your screen take too much time away from your actually viewing, though.
- 5Be Well Rested.
- This is pretty self-explanatory; don't start a binge-watch on too little sleep. You need a good deal of mental energy to watch TV for several hours. When your mind is sharp, you're more likely to catch subtler jokes, pick up on hidden clues, and have a deeper understanding of the narratives you're consuming in general. Being in the wrong frame of mind, like feeling grumpy due to lack of shut-eye, can negatively impact your connection to the show. It's best to go into this experience as fresh and open as possible.
- 6Prepare Snacks.
- Yes, you'll want fun stuff like chips, pretzels, or popcorn but try rotating in some healthy stuff, too. Carrot and celery sticks and slices of cucumber with hummus will sustain you for way longer than junk food. Fruit is an even easier option. Pick up some raw nuts and seeds, and dark chocolate to create your own super energizing and tasty trail mix.
- This may be a good opportunity to order-in as well. Save your weekly/monthly budget for takeout for this very important binge session. It's a time saver and usually means you'll have less dishes to wash when you stop bingeing and return to the real world.
- 7Choose Comfy Clothes.
- A t-shirt and sweatpants, with optional sweater depending on the weather, is a solid marathon outfit. You want something comfortable but not so comfortable you fall asleep. Though if you're dozing off that easily, there may be something wrong with the show you chose to watch! Don't stress about this step too much, you can always change during one of your breaks. Yes, there will be breaks!
- If you're using a laptop, you can pick nearly any spot for your binge. The best bets are your bed, couch, or favorite cozy chair. It really doesn't matter what spot you choose, as long as you can be comfy there for several hours. Make sure your spot has easy access to an outlet; what a catastrophe it would be to have your battery die right at a super critical moment in the show.
- If you're using a television that's in a fixed location, you probably already have a couch or cozy chair positioned in front of it. Improve the luxury of that spot by keeping extra blankets, pillows, hand cream, lip balm, Kleenex, etc., all at the ready. The sofa in front of my TV happens to be a pullout bed and anytime I binge-watch, I definitely put that baby in bed-mode.
- You need the right mood lighting, too. If you're watching a comedy or a show with a lighter tone, there's no need to worry about letting the sun shine through or keeping a few lights on. Though you'll want to make sure there's no glare on your screen! If you're diving into something darker in tone, shutting your curtains or blinds, and turning off all or most lights is key to creating the perfect ambiance.
- Reduce distractions. Why did you do all this planning if you're not even going to watch? Unless you've decided to share the experience with an online community, you should put your phone and other devices away. Even if you're using Facebook or other social media to chat with friends about the show, only keep that screen up so you don't get caught up in something entirely different and miss a must-see moment.
During the Binge
- It's definitely best to stay focused on drinking water while binge-watching. Water keeps you awake, energized, and ready for more episodes. Don't go nuts though, or you'll need too many washroom breaks.
- A coffee or two is also in order.
- And you know what? Go ahead and allow yourself a few adult beverages, too. It's a good idea to save them for closer to the end of the binge, though, so you don't get too distracted from the story, or fall asleep from overindulgence.
- 2Take Breaks
- OK, this might seem completely counterintuitive but trust me. No matter how comfy your clothes and surroundings are, you're going to start getting a little stiff. So, every few hours, drag your rump up out of that couch groove and do a couple of stretches. This website has a great video tutorial for an exercise you can do in just 30 seconds. There's also this YouTube video from Bowflex has 3 exercises you can do in less than 2 minutes.
- The breaks don't need to be long, just enough to get your blood flowing and get you pumped to start the next episode.
- And, hey, while you're up, you might as well go take that washroom break you've been trying to avoid!
After the Binge
- 1Give Yourself Transition Time
- After a nice, long binge you may need some time to decompress. You've just taken in a whole whack of great storytelling, emotional character arcs, and stunning musical scores. I mean, at least I hope you experienced those things. Don't rush to your next activity if you don't have to, give yourself some time to soak it all in. More importantly, don't get immediately involved with another show. Don't be so quick to just forget all those beautiful little moments you loved about the show you just binged. Let them sit with you for at least a day or two. Plus, this will allow for better comprehension of the show, so you haven't completely forgotten what happened last season when the new season comes out an entire year from now.
- If you've just watched an entire series, or the final season of one, give yourself a moment to reflect on it and say a proper goodbye. Don't worry, it's not forever; that's what re-watching is for!
- This may not be a reality for everyone. Once your binge is over you may have to return to the real world immediately and that's understandable. While getting back to life's responsibilities, try listening to a podcast about the show you watched so you can still have that bit of reflection time.
Most importantly: have fun! TV can be inspiring and even life changing. It's a medium that's becoming a more groundbreaking form of art than ever before. There's a reason it's still classified Entertainment, though. If nothing else, make your binge-watching experience and entertaining one.