I keep seeing these articles on how binge watching your favorite TV show can lead to depression. Come on! This can't be true. I binge watched an entire season of Freaks and Geeks just a few months ago. I mean, it wasn't on purpose. Kids went to bed, husband was at drill and the next thing I know, it's 4am and I am 9 episodes in. Hubby came home and said goodnight around 10pm, and I didn't purposely lie to him when I said I'd be up when the episode was over, I just really had to see if Daniel was going to pass his algebra test. The next morning, I obviously woke up cranky due to what I can only assume to be lack of sleep. I figured I would do some laundry while the kids played and watch another episode of Fs&Gs. Bed time rolled around the second night and as soon as their stories were over, I jumped back on Netflix in an attempt to finish the season. I was down to 6 episodes. I could totally pull that off in one night.
Hours later, when I finished the series, (which is only one season and in my opinion was cut WAY to short), was my life changed? Did I feel accomplished? No, I checked the suggested titles under what I had just finished watching and found another series to binge watch...Undeclared. Wait? What? I thought it was just that show that had me glued to the TV for hours. I didn't sign on to watch excessive hours of television. I'm an avid reader! What was happening to me?!
Long story short, I called it quits after yet another 1 season series. (Thank goodness I haven't found a series that I really want to watch that has been on for years). I started to think of all the hours that I wasted in front of the TV. Then I got sad. First off, I watched a series about high school kids (and families) in the 80's. The setting was a few years before my high school career began, but I still felt like I was there. I saw the peer pressure Lindsay was dealing with and I started to reminisce about high school: who to be friends with, studying, hanging out, annoying parents and being sneaky. Yep. It all came flooding back.
Then I got sad again. I got sad because Sam and his buddies went out to trick or treat and were told they were to old. They wanted to like girls but were still at an age where it was just plain weird and uncomfortable. That's when I started to think of my own son. My 8 year old baby. Are these the kinds of thought that will run through his head? Will he have to make that concrete decision to grow up one day? From then on, I started watching the show from a mother's point of view.
Then I got sad again. My babies are going to be grown up before we know it! Why am I wasting precious time watching this show instead of spending time with them! What am I doing? Is my life that empty? Do I have that much time on my hands to sit and watch TV for hours? No! The answer is NO! I don't have that time and for the last few days, I shucked my responsibilities and I placated my kids so I could watch TV. Now, I'm depressed.
So, why do we get sad when we binge watch?
- It was awesome and now it's over.
- For a minute, I thought that I was a part of the show. They were my friends and family.
- I watched that entire series and it sucked (but I had to finish it).
- I have a shit ton of chores to do since I haven't done anything but watch TV.
- I could totally do what that main character did but in real life.
- That story was so close to my life, why didn't I think of it?
- My kids have been eating cereal every day for dinner so I could watch my show instead of meal prepping.
- I have bags under my eyes from lack of sleep.
- My dog now sleeps on my side of the bed cause I've fallen asleep on the couch at 4 am.
- There is always another show that sucks us in.
We are a society of instant gratification. We don't like to wait for anything and if we have to wait, we get pissed! I remember watching TGIF with my family and having to wait till the following week to see if Uncle Jesse was really moving out because all those kids where just to much for him to handle. You just don't have to wait anymore. Even my own children try to binge watch TV. All of their favorite shows are on Netflix on Apple TV so they could watch an entire season (and would) if I let them. When I was recovering from surgery, we watched the ENTIRE series of Ninjago. If I never see another Lego show again, it will be to soon. It was like a sickness. "Just one more show mom. PLEASE! I have to see what happens next!". It was a hard habit to break.
As a parent who has shucked their responsibilities to binge watch, I have no problem doing it again and placing the blame on Netflix (instead of myself). Netflix just makes it so easy to sit there all day and watch good (or even bad) shows. Hell! They even play the next episode within, like 15 seconds of finishing the last. I don't even have to think, it just happens! Then, Netflix gets to know me and what I like and suggests other awesome shows to watch and the cycle starts again. How do you break the cycle?
How to make yourself stop binge watching
- Don't start a new show. Resist.
- Go outside.
- Think of all the calories you aren't burning as you sit there (probably munching on food)
- Where are your kids?
- Where is your significant other?
- Don't ignore your dog who is standing there holding his/her leash.
- Write down the hours you have 'put in' watching TV.
- Wipe the dust from your library card.
- Wipe the dust from all the surfaces in the house (since it's been building since Breaking Bad came out on Nextflix)
- Setting a bad example. How can you convince your kids that binge watching is bad when they see you doing it.
- Think about an outing with friends. Do you have anything other than TV shows to talk about?
Ok. Ok. Now, if you decide to not heed my warnings and chose to binge watch anyways, (I, too, will most likely put in some late night TV hours this summer), try these.
- Orange Is The New Black
- Freaks and Geeks
- Quantum Leap
- How I Met Your Mother
- It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
- The Wonder Years
- The Walking Dead
- Parks and Recreation
- Doctor Who
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- One Tree Hill
- Arrested Development
- Mad Men
- Breaking Bad
- Twin Peaks
- Sons of Anarchy