Is Binge-Watching TV A Bad Idea?


Did you watch all 13 episodes of Jessica Jones the second they hit Netflix? Did you miss Battlestar Galactica when it first aired and mainlined the entire thing in a week? Are you simply unable to go to bed once you’ve started watching a series because there’s always one… more… episode…?

While some might admire your dedication, it’s not necessarily a good thing to immerse yourself so heavily in a TV binge-watch. Jayne Nelson explains why…

1 All the episodes merge together


Sure, it’s tempting to sit down and watch all 13 episodes of Daredevil in a weekend. You’ve got nothing planned, it’s a compelling series and there are all those (often literally) bloody cliffhangers to get your heart pumping to find out what happens next. But while it’s great as you’re watching, later on you’ll look back and realise that all of Matt Murdock’s late-night skirmishes have blurred into one homogeneous mass in your brain.

One fight in the dark looks the same as another, after all. You remember he gets beaten up a lot, and there are many scenes of him in his apartment looking a bit miserable, but you can’t recall what fight goes with which aftermath. You know Kingpin was brilliant, but you’ve forgotten almost everything he did except for that bit with the car door (you know the one). And as for the ending… well, you were so tired by then that all you wanted was to go to bed, so now you can’t remember it.

Sometimes you just have to ignore that little voice in your head whispering, “One more episode…” because it’s just not fair on the show to lessen all that hard work into one, amorphous blob. Take breaks and allow the nuances to sink in!

2 It’s bad for your health

Couch potatoes

Everybody knows that if you go on a long-haul flight you’re going to be feeling pretty stiff and sore at the end of it, and you’re also at risk from something called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). That’s when you’ve stayed in the same position for so long that your bloodflow has slowed, causing your bloodcells to form into clumps and clot together. These clots gather painfully in your legs or, occasionally, arms, and if a clot breaks off and travels to a lung, they can be fatal. This is why you’re advised to wear The World’s Ugliest Socks when you travel for long periods, and getting up to walk around the cabin during a lengthy flight is a must.

Nobody seems to consider that spending 18 hours on your sofa watching TV can have the same results. And DVT affects 1 in 1,000 people, so if this page has 1,000 readers today, one of them could be you!

Okay, we’re being alarmist, but come on, guys… get up. Walk around. Take a break. Go for a walk. Rest your eyes, if nothing else. We all know that vegging on the sofa doesn’t help you lose weight or burn off calories, but it can also be deadly. Don’t risk it!

3 It doesn’t allow you time to soak up the latest episode


You’re watching a show and there’s the plot twist to end all plot twists at the end of an episode, leaving a deadly cliffhanger. Holy shit! What’s going to happen next? How will they get out of that one? It’s good to wander off for a week, muse on all the scenarios that could play out, consider how you’d cope in that situation, ponder what the writers have in store… and, along the way, you’re getting more and more hyped for the Big Reveal.

It’s just not the same if you only wait for 30 seconds, is it? Instant gratification is great if you suddenly fancy a doughnut, but it’s the enemy of serialised drama.

4 You can’t talk about it to people watching it at normal pace


Is there anything more annoying in this modern age of television than turning up at work burning to talk about that new series you watched at the weekend, only to discover that you’re the only one who’s seen the whole thing? Everybody else is watching an episode here and an episode there, but you were just too impatient. Well, that’s great for you – you won’t get spoiled. (And hopefully you’re not the kind of person to spoil it for them.)

But the downside is that by the time all your friends have caught up… you’ve moved on. You’ve mostly forgotten what happened in the finale anyway (see point one), and all the excitement has died down. And so the social aspect of television-viewing among friends is being slowly eroded away, and while you can take part in it online… well, it’s not the same as dissecting last night’s episode of something in the pub with your mates, is it?

5 Now what?

man in the high castle

You’ve mainlined all of House Of Cards or Better Call Saul or Vikings or Game Of Thrones. Great! But, er… what next? You watched them in the space of a few days each instead of spreading them out across weeks or months. Which means that you now have an endless, gaping period of nothing while you wait for the showrunners to write, film and produce their next season. This can take a very long time – even years – as fans of The Sopranos or Mad Men can tell you (and, most recently, Doctor Who!).

And, of course, by the time these new seasons roll around, you’ve almost entirely forgotten what happened last time. Do you watch them again? No, because in this golden age of telly there’s always something new that you really need to watch. So you sit down in front of Game Of Thrones and you’ve forgotten everything from who’s married to whom to the names of Cersei’s dragons. Rubbish!




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