Netflix and Chill

Big fan of binge watching, huge, although I try not to do it unless I truly have a weekend to spare, which is rare. The times I've started a new show are often when one of us is sick -- Doug was down with a kidney stone when I started Scandal and I was sick most recently when I buzzed through two seasons of Madam Secretary.  Today, we're looking at the pros and cons of binge-watching.

There are the usual culprits, House of Cards, The Mindy Project (I know, it's technically on Hulu) and Orange is the New Black, which launched Friday. Yes. I've watched all of them -- the shows, mind you, not the entire series of OITNB -- which got me thinking about the fervor surrounding binge-watching.

To date, there are 81 million Netflix subscribers -- 42% of which come from the United States for a total of 47 million viewrs. Of that number, 70% of people said they binge watch and in 2015, there were 42.5 BILLION hours of digital streaming. Anyone else remember when Netflix was a mail-based DVD rental service?

Binge-watching is considered the practice of watching television for longer time spans than usual, most often of a single television show.  Originally known as a "marathon" on TV (hello, TNT Law and Order), the act of sitting for hours on end isn't without consequence.  After all, too much of a good thing, isn't a good thing.

  1. Sitting is the new smoking: When we sit in the same position for hours on end, it can take a toll on the spine put pressure on the joints. It can also lead to copious amounts of snacking, which, if practiced day after day, can lead to weight gain.
  2. Night vision: Staring at the screen for hours on end can disrupt sleep patterns (especially if right before bed) and can cause headaches and eye strain. 
  3. Breaks are for quitter: On the other hand, it's nice to skip right to the next episode and it's a welcome escape from a busy life. Most people (a recent study found 8 out of 10) prefer binge watching than watching single episodes. In today's world of 140-character news (aka Twitter) and short attention spans, it's nice to commit to something long term, right?
  4. But they're our friends: I was in a cab in India when I heard about a study that found those who read fiction are more empathetic than those who do not. Maybe this is a stretch, but could the same be said about watching fictional shows? Could it help us connect with people whose views or ideas we would never consider pondering?

I supposed binge-watching, in moderation and like everything else, is fine in small doses. It's a good outlet when I want to tune out, not think, not talk and do nothing. And, on that note, I'm off to watch the second episode of OITNB, maybe the third. 

What are your favorite shows to binge-watch? Someone has recommended Downton Abbey and Grey's Anatomy (I haven't seen a single episode) but I'd love to hear a few of your favorites!

[photo via Death to the Stock Photo]