I hate when people try to tell me that binge-watching television shows is a bad idea. It’s become an increasingly prevalent claim as binge-watching itself gains prevalence, since people read stories decrying it on Slate and The Huffington Post and are like SURE THIS SEEMS LEGIT! THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH EVERYTHING THAT COMES OUT TO TECHNOLOGICALLY IMPROVE THE WORLD AND WHEN THEY WRITE ABOUT IT ON THE INTERNET I KNOW IT’S TRUE!
Folks who preach against binge watching seem not to realize how amazing the ability to binge watch television programs really is. When I was growing up, I used to think that something that would have given me the ability to watch every episode of Flipper in consecutive chronological order, without commercial or other delay, was the greatest and most exciting invention there had ever been—with the exception of television itself, which had made all of this possible in the first place.
I love being able to watch as much of what you want, in whatever order you want. It makes me feel drunk with power. If YouTube had existed in 2001, I would have seen every video put out by the Cash Money Millionaires at least 85 times. It’s the kind of freedom that Americans can be really super proud of.
And there’s no better time to binge-watch shows than now, in the dead of a cold, snowy winter, in the midst of one of the most severe Cuffing Seasons* in recent memory.
I am a borderline agoraphobic who is without cable and happens to love television series, so I’m essentially an expert on binge-watching. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your binge-watching experience:
- Pick a partner if possible. I binge-watch alone a lot, but I am also like, ultra-great at spending hours upon hours of my time alone. Most people are, I dare say, not like this. If you have a partner to hunker down and crush a season or two of a show on a Saturday morning/afternoon/evening, you’ll have somebody to laugh with, to dissect the plot with, and to develop a drinking game to accompany whatever you’re watching, if that’s something you’re into.
- Dress comfortably. If you’re sitting inside getting some good binge-watching in, it’s probably not that great a day outside. And nice clothes are only necessary when you’re leaving your domicile. If you’re at my place, going pants-less is not only an option—it’s actively encouraged. You’re going to be sitting on your ass for an undetermined amount of time watching a TV show. You don’t need to impress anybody with your looks. Unless you’re trying to make romantic inroads with the person you’re watching with, and if this is the case I suggest you do something other than binge-watching. (It’s not always the best idea.) It’s not that romantic, and you’ll probably be doing all kinds of weird stuff that distracts you from watching the series, like trying to smell her hair or staring at her peripherally for as long as you can without blinking. HOWEVER, if she is in favor of binge-watching without pants on, then binge-watch, for the love of God, BINGE-WATCH.
- Ensure you have everything you’re going to need before you get started. Binge-watching is an activity that can rely largely on momentum. Once you stop to get up and get the blood flowing you lose that momentum. Get all of your snacks, drinks, booze, drugs, toiletries, etc. lined up before you go in on that first episode of House of Cards.
- You can buy meals pre-binge-watching, of course, but I recommend ordering in. Again, with the momentum—there’s no time to whip up something, or to even heat it up. If your neighborhood has it, I recommend going with Delivery.com or GrubHub or Seamless. Or, if you’re a troglodyte, call a Chinese or pizza delivery place. My man Kirk Pynchon even has a guide for you re: what takeout food best pairs with what you’re watching on Netflix.
- Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Just because you’re binge-watching doesn’t mean you have to stick with only one show’s consecutive episodes for the duration of your marathon session. If Breaking Bad or Dexter are getting too heavy for you, switch to an episode or two of a brainless sitcom like Everybody Loves Raymond or How I Met Your Mother to calm yourself, and then jump back in to the drama when you’re good and ready. Binge-watching is all about freedom. Exercise that freedom.
*Cuffing Season is a period of the year starting just before the holidays and ending with the first thaw of spring where people are more inclined to enter serious relationships, because they know they will be doing all kinds of lame things in the coming months that they would prefer not to do alone, and if they want to have sex regularly without going out, they need to find somebody before winter comes. (I’m pretty sure this is all going to be covered in more detail in the new season of Game of Thrones.)