Binge-Watching TV Is Ruining My Life & Probably Yours Too

couple binge-watching

Does your idea of a perfect evening include sitting on your couch double-fisting your remotes and watching six or more back-to-back episodes of a Showtime original series? If you just said yes, well, hello, binge-watching BFF! But as fun as it is to cram an entire series into a weekend, you and I may be in need of some help, if you believe the findings of a recent study.


Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin asked 316 people to complete an online survey. Of that group, 237 met the researchers' definition of binge-watching -- viewing three or more episodes in a single sitting. And, surprise, surprise, they were more likely than their non-bingeing counterparts to experience behaviors associated with depression, lack of self-regulation, and even loneliness.

Well, duh, let me explain why that might be. When you start forsaking family, friends, food, and phone calls to watch just one more episode of How I Met Your Mother, you begin to fall down a rabbit hole so life-altering and mind-bending, it's worthy of a two-and-a-half-hour Lost finale.

My current binge-watching addiction began with my husband and me simply watching two episodes per evening but quickly accelerated to devouring all three seasons of the BBC comedy Gavin & Stacey in a single weekend. (That's a problem, right?) Let me share some of the ways this new viewing style is ruining my life.

--Even though it's 3 a.m., the kids will be up in four hours, and I've agreed to bake five dozen cupcakes before noon for a PTO bake sale, I won't rest until I find out if Homeland's Nicholas Brody is really betraying his country.

--When I'm running low on grocery money, I seriously consider turning my shed into a grow house a la Nancy Botwin in Weeds.

--I now spend my afternoons not just stalking, but hunting my mailman waiting to see if he's holding on to my next precious Netflix envelope. It's gotten to the point that I'm almost running alongside his little white truck shouting, "Please, I need to know if The Newsroom's Will and Mac are ever going to get together. Just hand it over and I won't tell your supervisor that you nap from 2 to 4 each afternoon in a covered garage!"

--On Sunday evenings, I'm as melancholy as Lady Edith when I'm limited to just an hour of Downton. I throw toddler-style temper tantrums, screaming at the Masterpiece Classics logo, "What do you mean I have to wait until next Sunday to find out what Mr. Barrow is up to now?!?! How am I ever going to perfect my imitation of Mrs. Hughes' Scottish brogue at this rate?"

--I've dropped out of my book club so I could devote more time to watching a middle-aged bald man cook crystal meth in an RV.

--It's killing my long-term memory. With the year-plus hiatus between Mad Men seasons, I spend the first 30 minutes of each new episode Googling characters and struggling to remember plot lines. Then I have to re-watch everything I just missed and pore over recaps to make sure I got it all. (If only I'd applied myself like this during college!)

--I'm deliriously tired. After a marathon viewing of Orange Is the New Black, I'd happily be incarcerated if it meant I could rest in my bunk for a few hours in the afternoon.

--My husband and I are leaving permanent indentations in our couch cushions.

--I'm becoming a terrible parent. At 6:30 p.m. I start fantasizing about putting the kids to bed so I can get a glimpse of the cool disguises worn by The Americans Russian spy duo Philip and Elizabeth Jennings. Seriously, have you seen their wig collection?

--When people talk about our president, I immediately picture House of Cards' Francis Underwood.

-- I'm starting to think these fictional characters are people I know. When I saw the trailer for Better Call Saul, at first I thought the shifty lawyer was my uncle.

So, how do I give up this all-consuming addiction? (Is it a bad sign that my first thought is: What would The Good Wife's Alicia Florrick do?) Something tells me I should try to go cold turkey. Maybe watching five seasons of A&E's Intervention wasn't such a bad idea after all!
Are you a binge-watcher? If so, how is it affecting your life?
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