Anybody else out there binge-watch television, now that Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and a host of other (whatever they’re called) is available to us? We do. I’m ashamed to say it, but we do. I place the blame square in the laps of our children, where it belongs.
They used to tell us what they were binge-watching, only I didn’t understand anything they said after that. “Streaming.” What does that mean? “Streaming” on anything from a TV, computer, phone, watch, refrigerator … anything. I didn’t get it. It sounded complicated and tech-y and not for me. And I worried about our daughter, when she told us she and her roommate would curl up and watch an entire season of a show in one 24-hour slug marathon. “That can’t be healthy,” I’d tell her. “Get out and get some fresh air, for heaven’s sake!”
Then one day, my husband walked in and said, “Hey, I signed us up for Netflix! Let’s find something good to watch tonight.” I rolled my eyes, thinking this fad might last a day or two, and he’d move on to something else.
That was two years and 15 lbs. ago.
To be quite honest, we love Netflix. We love Amazon and now, we love Hulu. Oh, I remember that first night like it was yesterday. Well, that’s not actually true. The whole two years is kind of a blur. A binge-watching, dinner-on-the-couch – “don’t touch that dial” blur. And the winter months? Oh it’s awful. By February, my rear-end is shaped an awful lot like our sofa.
I knew we were in trouble when we broke down and watched the show Breaking Bad. I resisted. I did. Why on earth would I want to watch a show about a guy who makes meth? Talk about turning my brain into mush. But the time came when we had binge-watched everything else we knew we wanted to watch, and we were without a show. I felt like a drug addict going through withdrawal. I had the shakes, and I dreaded the evenings that loomed before us, with nothing to fill them. Then my husband suggested we give Breaking Bad a shot. In desperation, I blurted out, “OK, sure.”
We loved it, right from the start. The language was filthy, but the plot and the characters were compelling. We watched every night, without fail. Then one evening – it was a Friday night, I remember – we were approaching the end of the series. Not season, mind you. Series. We were torn between wanting more and more of the show, but not wanting the series to end. So of course, we watched and watched and watched until, finally, it ended for good. It was 3:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and when the credits rolled for the last time, it was like a dash of cold water in our faces. We blinked and looked at each other, probably thinking, “Have you been here all along?” We looked at the clock, and we couldn’t. believe it. We weren’t sure what day it was. It was pitch black outside. Had I fed the dogs recently? Had my husband missed any days of work? Had I missed an important deadline?
I didn’t like the feeling. I didn’t like how much it hurt to get up off the couch (we probably hadn’t moved since mid-day Saturday). I didn’t like the fact that we had to think a minute to figure out what day it was. And I really didn’t like the fact that we had spent most of a perfectly good weekend sitting on the sofa, glued to the television. To tell you the truth, it really bothered me. Needless to say, we haven’t done it since. Not to that extent, anyway.
We made a pact. No matter how good a show is, we promise to limit ourselves to one episode a night. One episode can go pretty quickly, without all the nonsense of commercials to deal with. One episode, that’s it. That leaves us a lot of time to talk, to catch up, to cook together, to eat meals at the table like human beings, to work in our yard, to take walks, to just DO something, together. And I won’t even get into what it does to our ability to think.
All these options we have now, to watch pretty much anything we want on television, they can be a good thing – in moderation. Without moderation, they are a fast track to weight gain, joint pain, household disrepair, tall grass, HOA warnings and worst of all, distance in a marriage.
Maybe they should come with a warning.
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was published in 2016. It is the true tale of a crime that took place in Gwinnett County nearly 40 years ago. Her previous three books are written with Southern humor. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national true crime radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and at www.caroletownsend. com. When she’s not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family, and life in her beloved South.