Binge watching: America’s new favorite pastime?

Published 11:24 am Wednesday, April 1, 2015

It used to be that families planned their week around a favorite television show. For example, if “Friends” came on at 8 p.m. on Monday night, most of America was at home, tuned in to NBC. It wasn’t possible to record the episode and watch it later, and it wasn’t until that show was syndicated that you could catch a rerun.

Television and technology have thankfully changed, blending into a wonderful partnership that has me — and millions of other Americans — in its grasp.

Thanks to options like DVR, TIVO, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Apple TV and a number of other services that instantly provide streaming to our phones, computers, tablets, television, game consoles and other devices, the ability to binge watch our favorite television shows or movies has never been easier.

I didn’t watch “The Wire,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Newsroom” or “American Horror Story” in its original run, but streaming has allowed me to watch a marathon of the entire series in just a few days.

I’m also busy enough throughout the week that I cannot indulge in weekly viewings of my favorite television shows, including “The Walking Dead,” “Hannibal,” “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.,” “Law and Order: SVU” and “Gotham.” So every weekend, I open one of a number of the aforementioned media devices and binge.

Netflix has begun releasing entire seasons of original programming at a time, which is why I flew through “House of Cards,” and am currently on the second-to-last episode of “Bloodline.” I just started it this past weekend. I know… I have a problem. I’m sure many of you are in no position to judge, though.

A recent Netflix survey shows that 61 percent of those with an account regularly binge watch, and 73 percent think it’s okay to have such a guilty pleasure. But why? Typical answers include the fact that there are no commercials; that you don’t have to wait a week to find out what happens; and the ease at which its available, to all of which I agree.

As I think of all of the shows I’ve binged on, I start to realize the ridiculous amount of time I’ve spent connecting with fictional characters; how my coworkers and I talk endlessly about the latest episode of this show or that show; and how unhealthy it is to sit on the couch, stuffing my face with snacks as Frank Underwood attempts to take over the world. I only hope that the warmer weather allows me to break free of the hold that technology has upon my life.

As soon as I’m done with this latest episode, I’ll turn my television off and go outside. It’s 70 degrees and absolutely gorgeous, which is more than I can say for the first few months of the year.

The credits roll, and Netflix is telling me that the next episode will play in only 15 seconds.

Well… one more episode couldn’t hurt, right?

ANDREW LIND is a staff writer for The Tidewater News. He can be reached at or 562-3187.