A Guide to Binge-Watching

Binge-watching is all the rage. You've never seen a James Bond movie? No problem, just watch all of them (over 20 of them!) one weekend. You've never seen that television show everyone has been raving about (take your pick: Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, etc.)? No problem, just watch every episode over the course of a week or more.  Here are some tips if you're a newbie to the binge-watching trend.

1. Decide your binge-watching duration.  Are you seriously prepared to watch every single episode of The Simpsons?  The animated series has been running non-stop since 1989.  That's over 500 episodes! Unless you're willing to spread it out over days, or even weeks, you might want to start off with something a little more manageable, like maybe the Rocky movies or the Star Wars saga.  Be honest with yourself about how much of your leisure time you want to spare -- an afternoon, a whole day, a weekend, a few hours after work or before bedtime? And be warned, if you like what you're watching, you might end up exceeding the schedule you set for yourself, watching a few extra episodes even though you promised yourself you were only going to watch three that night.

2. Select the series that best fits your schedule. As I mentioned, if you only have limited time, watching the entire Star Trek franchise (The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, The Animated Series, and all the movies) may not be the wisest choice. A limited series might be the best way to go.  Anthologies are even better, like Black Mirror, or a classic miniseries like Jesus of Nazareth.

3. Don't forget to eat and sleep. It might be tempting to do a marathon when the show you're watching is excellent, but Sons of Anarchy is not worth sacrificing your health. Kids can sometimes go days non-stop playing the latest videogame, but they often end up looking like zombies. It's tougher to pull all-nighters as you grow older, and you'll feel the pain when you return to work. You know best how much sleep you need to function at your best, and you shouldn't skimp on exercise and nutrition just because you want to watch the entire Orphan Black in one sitting. Take a break, go out and smell the roses, take a nap, drink plenty of water, eat a solid meal. The show will still be there when you return, thanks to DVRs, On Demand, and streaming video services.

4. Ignore the lapses in continuity. Nowadays, showrunners are more aware that viewers might binge-watch their show, so they produce their series with that in mind. Older shows, and especially movies, didn't care as much. Don't be surprised then if you see the same guest actor playing multiple characters during the run of a series, or if a fact changes or contradicts another fact from earlier in the show. Those classics were made back when they thought viewers would be tuning in every week, not watching their episodes straight through non-stop. It's easier to notice set changes or costume discrepancies or hairstyle transformations when you're binge-watching. The less you worry about it, the more you'll enjoy what the series has to offer instead of worrying about whatever happened to Richie Cunningham's brother in Happy Days or why the actress playing the daughter in Roseanne kept changing.

Those are my suggestions. I welcome any other advice from other binge-watching experts who might be reading this.


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