Battling the Binge-watch Blues

OINTB-Season 2-Netflix

We’ve all been there. It’s the first silent moments after finishing that season (or worse) series finale. No more videos to buffer. No more DVDs or Blu-rays to pop into the player. What to do? WHAT TO DO?!

Portlandia-Wait! This is the last one!

First, breathe — take a moment to compose yourself.

The great availability of media allows for the joys of binge-watching, giving the individual control of how they view episodic content. Yet, binge-watching has its drawbacks: not fully absorbing the complexities of a show, not experiencing the show as it was intended, and becoming a full-blown addict, complete with unquenchable cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Still, binge-watching is a valid way to watch TV. I reject the notion that there is a “wrong” or “right” way to view TV. It’s up to the individual whether or not to connect with their entertainment, regardless of the method in which they experience it. I’m a strong proponent for choice and widened availability of entertainment, so the privileged notion that one isn’t watching that show “correctly” bristles against my liberal worldview.

That’s what I’m not worried about. What I am worried about is battling the binge-watch blues — the depressive, sinking feeling many culture addicts face. It can feel like the end of world, but keeping these tips in mind will help to put those “blues” into perspective.

Know thyself.

I have an addictive personality — that’s just how my brain rolls. Without setting a limit of how many episodes to watch in a sitting, I won’t stop until I reach the end. (Once you pop, you can’t stop!) If you’re like me, consider setting a limit and sticking to it — no bargaining.

It’s simple: if life is getting in the way of your binge-watching, then let it. The greatest joy of being able to binge-watch is the fact that you don’t have to binge-watch. Binge-watch to live. Don’t live to binge-watch.

Move on to a different medium, or better yet, nothing at all.

After binge-watching, I definitely need a palate cleanser. You can only wallow in the world of White Walkers or Walter White for so long. Take a break from TV — go to the theater, read a book (perhaps the book(s) on which the series you watched is based), or listen to music.

Another option is to take a break from media altogether — give you brain time to digest all its consumed. Go outside! Take a nap! Eat real food! Interact with other humans!

Consider not binge-watching (at least as much) in the future.

There’s binge-watching, and then there’s BINGE-WATCHING. I remember after a particularly feverish two-day Firefly viewing session, I was emotionally and physically exhausted. This wasn’t healthy, especially since I was in the middle of finals.

Unless you’re having a binge-watching party and cleared your schedule for a weekend of TV, stagger your binge-watching into more manageable chunks. If there are several series you’ve been meaning to catch up on or start, then consider watching them at the same time rather than binge-watching each series one-by-one. (I almost cried when I realized HBO Go has every episode of The Sopranos, The Wire, Rome, Deadwood, AND Sex & the City available to stream.)

Make your own TV schedule, including shows on and off air, and stick to it. This will take longer than traditional binge-watching, but it also lets you sink your teeth into more TV than ever before possible. Yum.

Remember, it’s just TV.

It took me a long time to realize how silly and unnecessary it is to be so angsty for so long about fictional characters.  Don’t get me wrong, I still cry and shake my fists in the air whenever my favorite characters die or my OTP is in crisis. It took me all last week to come to grips with the fact that Game of Thrones is over until 2015. But there’s no need to wallow in “FEELS!” for too long. Have a cry, stalk Wikipedia, maybe read some fan fiction, and move on. There are too many other things to do and other “FEELINGS!” to be felt to become over-involved with fictional character problems. If you do, then you get the Sherlock fandom circa 2012 right now.

i have a lot of feeling about these characters

Happy binge-watching, everyone!

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