The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Pause: We need television-binging etiquette

I felt an icy gulf emerge between my mother and I during a phone call last week, when she began to discuss “How to Get Away with Murder.” My heart sank as I realized she was a season, if not two, ahead of me. 

None of us are strangers to this feeling by now; “Stranger Things” was humanity’s greatest gift to unified viewing in recent memory, but even then the fragmentation of the media landscape was tangible. 

Forget the 2016 election. The true division in this country was sewn when Hulu, Netflix, HBO and Amazon Prime agreed to create stunning original content of their own. Computer time was transformed into a Darwinian struggle for our eyeballs as a consequence.

Battle lines were drawn. Some choose to re-watch “Friends” for the nth time. Others behold  captivating antiheroes vying for power on the plains of Westeros, in the White House, or a chaotic kitchen with seconds to spare. 

More Americans than ever are binge watching shows— I count myself among those fortunate few. 

A number of recent surveys have revealed information that was a surprise to no one: We binge-watch a lot of TV. 

Consulting firm Deloitte found that 70 percent of viewers binge-watch, with an average of five episodes per sitting. This number spikes to 86 percent among millennials. Data generated by Netflix found 73 percent of survey respondents view binge watching positively, so there is no need to fear being stigmatized.

After all, binging has many advantages. In an entertainment era hailed as “peak TV,” dedicated fans can keep pace with breakneck production and completely immerse themselves in the worlds they feel passionately about. 

It is a source of connection to those that surround us in the real world too. According to Media Shift, 79 percent  of audiences believe that binge-watching makes the actual show better.

However, not all is well in TV land. An endless buffet demands an endless appetite, and not everyone has the stomach for it. 

Our weekends are one casualty of this trend. 37 percent of people admit to spending an entire weekend binging a show. What I did with Netflix series “Sense8” this past weekend is not the topic at hand. 

Some 32 percent of us—who can only be described as “cine-masochists”—delay watching a show in order to binge its entirety. 

The conversational knife that twists in your back when a colleague spoils a current show you are behind on is an unbearable betrayal—but you would do the same in a heartbeat. BFFs or significant others leaving you episodes behind can feel like infidelity.

Even with an innocent recommendation, you are not just asking someone to sample a food, but consume an entire Thanksgiving feast, and identify regurgitated dishes on command. 

Sleep deprivation and human contact aside, the real injustice of binge watching is it has become nearly impossible to discuss a favorite show without having seen the entirety of it.

So, here are my three suggested rules for binge-watching recommendations:

1) Have a quick, spoiler-free description of a show ready, but stick to that elevator pitch. If they say no, they really will not care who the killer is in episode 11,001.

2) Anthology recommendations are an excellent jumping off point for newcomers, since they do not require a series long commitment.  The self-contained episodes can be discussed in isolation. “Black Mirror” on Netflix is a smart pick.

3) It is a give and take. Be willing to give new things a fair trial. Three episodes is about right. Before moving on. If tastes diverge, it is okay for folks to do their own things. Variety is the spice of life.

Be polite. The streaming-American community is counting on you. I did be remiss if I did not close with a few recommendations of my own. “Master of None,” “This is Us,” “Attack on Titan,” “Daredevil,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”—I better get back to the computer before I miss a new release.

If you ever need a show to watch, feel free to email me.


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Pause: We need television-binging etiquette