Is it just me, or is binge-watching all wrong?


At the risk of sounding like a major killjoy, here goes. Binge-watching: is it actually a good thing? A buzz-phrase that started life as a sort-of-embarrassed confession has now evolved to describe how we interact with TV. 

These days, it’s a common way to describe our weekends; marketing people use it left, right and centre; and Netflix even releases stats on it. (In case you were wondering, 13 Reasons Why, Riverdale, and The OA are binge material. The Crown, apparently, is not.) 

But when did it become ok, or even socially encouraged, to spend hours and hours (and hours) in front of a screen? And can’t we admit that once we’ve binged, even if the show was excellent, that we a) maybe don’t feel so great (sleepy and squinting like a mole emerging from darkness) and b) end up with binge-watch amnesia, remembering weirdly little of the experience soon after? 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve binge- watched my way through shedloads of boxsets. And I’ve gone big. There was the Gilmore Girls gorge session of winter ’16-’17, for example, or the 2015 Battlestar Galactica blur (Still. The. Best. Show. Ever). 

But I’ve realised that watching TV at a slower pace (say, one or two instalments at a time) feels more rewarding. I don’t feel terrible after I hit stop, for starters. And it gives me time to properly digest the story, characters, dialogue, soundtrack and all the other key stuff. It’s been more noticeable when one episode is better than another – or when a plotline has started to go south. 

There’s also an old-fashioned pleasure to be found in daydreaming about what’s going to happen next. A gap between episodes gives your imagination more space to breathe. It’s a welcome throwback to those good old days when you’d drift off at school or work, wondering whether Ross and Rachel would ever really, truly get together. 

So I say, let’s ease up on the bingeing. And let’s be honest – great quality TV is coming out at such a rate that none of us will ever catch up with it all anyway. Let’s savour episodes like ripe cheese and relax. I think that’s a smarter way to watch. Or is it just me? 

Each month Total Film magazine argues a polarising movie opinion and gives you the opportunity to agree/disagree/tell us we’re mad. Let us know what you think about this one in the comments below and read on for more.

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