Yes, I’m seriously still watching. And so are the 70 million other Netflix subscribers who aren’t paying monthly fees to be judged. We’ve all been there: our friend recommends a “life-changing” series on Netflix, we give it a shot, and watch it for what feels like 10 minutes until this little question pops up and we realize we’ve slabbed away the entire day and have been watching Netflix for 15+ hours. What is it about this website that sucks our souls in and basically turns us into mindless streaming zombie slaves? In other words, why do we binge-watch? This newly coined term stems from the recent availability of our favorite TV shows and movies at the palm of our hands… literally. The easy access we have nowadays to unlimited streaming through our phones, laptops, and TVs is scary and exhilarating. Although it’s a safe source of entertainment and can be used for beneficial purposes (like watching documentaries or educating yourself through certain shows), it can just as easily be detrimental to one’s lifestyle.

Binge-watching refers to the action of going prolonged amounts of time doing nothing but watching series on streaming services. Typically, watching 3+ episodes in a row in one sitting is considered binge-watching. These services make it extremely easy to binge-watch, seeing as they often have all the episodes and seasons of people’s favorite TV shows. Not only this, but the website layouts make it easy for users to lose track of time and stay glued to their screens all day. Features such as automatically playing the next episode of a show and the 15-second time span to click the “continue watching” button facilitate user experience and lead them to adopt a lazy attitude and bask in the comfort of their couch or bed. It’s easy to get swept up in the glory of unlimited streaming and ignore responsibilities. Furthermore, not only does excessive binge-watching lead to mental problems, but it can potentially lead to physical problems as well.

Logically, the extent of your slow but steady mental and physical deterioration depends on what kind of person you are. An article in The New York Times categorized binge-watchers into 3 distinct groups: The Very Fast Binger, The Fairly Quick Binger, and the Slightly More Relaxed Binger. I consider myself to be in between a sporadical Fairly Quick Binger and a Slightly More Relaxed Binger. Meaning I can go long periods of time without watching Netflix, Hulu, or HBO Go, but as soon as I watch one episode of a good series, I’m latched and can’t stop watching until I’ve finished the entire season. However, I asked my friend which category she considered herself to be a part of, she said she identified with The Very Fast Binger group because she preferred TV shows with short running times and few episodes.

Many shows and movies speed our hearts up, trigger dopamine releases, and cause all sorts of physical responses on our bodies. Binge-watching can also be tied to procrastination, seeing as we prioritize things according to time constraints. For example, during my senior year in high school on Sunday nights, I would rather refresh the HBO Go homepage waiting for the newest episode of Game of Thrones to go live than do my third-period homework due the next day. streaming-services-usaStreaming services know this and make a profit out of it. They study our watching habits and tailor our accounts to match them, making us more likely to become addicted to something that is personalized. All in all, we binge-watch because, not only have streaming services have made it easy to, but we subconsciously take pleasure in the stimulating nature of watching shows and movies.

Source 1 Source 2

11 thoughts on “Binge-Watching

  1. Wendy Sun

    I thought this was a very interesting topic to read. I love binge watching as much as the next person, but I also love following series weekly. This is because after every episode there will be a cliffhanger making you enjoy the show more by increasing the desire to watch it. Waiting a week for a new episode is rewarding in such a way. However sometimes I prefer binge watching because I tend to forget what happened in last week’s episode. Netflix’s automatic play next episode does affect the amount we watch in a sitting. YouTube is also abusing that by having the option of an “auto-playlist” where it plays the next recommended video. Will we ever escape the clutches of auto-play?

  2. Gulianna E Garry

    This is an extremely relatable post! I love watching Netflix and definitely love to binge-watch on a rainy day when there really isn’t much to do. I find it very interesting that some series decide to release all their episodes at once. I know the second House Of Cards releases their newest season my parents binge watch all thirteen episodes within the weekend. After each binge, however, they complain about waiting an entire year for the next season. So is it better or worse to have a whole season released at once? This link discusses the argument.

    1. Arianna L Del Valle Post author

      I love House of Cards as well! I never really thought about it that way. On one side, there’s the dreadful waiting of episodes to be released. But this can be positive, seeing as sitting down and watching all the episodes in one go is less likely to occur. And, as the article describes, people aren’t really keen on spending 13 hours on a couch (unless you’re a die-hard fan of HoC). If this was released on TV, I can see how it would be a massive failure.

      However, once you introduce streaming services, that’s where it gets hard. On the other hand, you know the episodes aren’t going anywhere, so you can take your time watching them and still be able to perform daily tasks without interruption. And, like I mentioned before, it kind of depends on the type of person you are! Some people are more predisposed to gluing themselves to a TV screen all day. Interesting article, thanks for sharing it!

  3. Brian Cunningham

    I’ve definitely binge-watched, but I’d be curious to find out which category I’d place myself in. I’ve only really binge-watched a couple shows, the fastest being Always Sunny, and I’m currently watching Friends. I’ll usually only do it like once or twice a week though, and even then, it’s only like 3 or 4 episodes at a time. But there are totally nights where I just want to eat soup and watch Friends for hours. Thinking about it beforehand gets me excited, and then it just happens and it’s so hard to stop, even when I know I should. But I think once or twice a week is fine just to wind down after a long day (just not if that “long day” consisted of 15 hours of prior binge-watching)

    1. Arianna L Del Valle Post author

      This comment made me laugh and relate on a whole new level. There are definitely days when all the stress from school and work get to my head, and, just as you said, I just wanna eat nice food and watch Netflix. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, as long as you do it in moderation. What’s interesting, though, is this article I found ( explaining the complete opposite: watching TV to relieve stress is apparently bad. I guess we’re better off hanging out with friends or going to the arboretum!

  4. Ajay Shethna

    I really like this post because it hits home with me. Its too easy to binge watch, when I start a show it becomes so easy to just sit back and relax on my computer watching House of Cards or The Arrow for what seems like eternity. Then that becomes habitual and I stop thinking about all the productive stuff I could be doing instead like idk…writing a blog post thats due the next day. Anyway I love the post and I like how you explained in depth what happens to our brains as we binge.

  5. Emma Gaetana Lepore

    I know I’m a little late, but I just started Gossip Girl on Netflix and I. legit. cannot. stop. I think the biggest issue for me is that the only time during the day that I have free time to watch a full episode is at night after my homework when I am alone. This is a huge problem because, I know it’s bad, but I tend to prioritize Gossip Girl over sleep. Binge watching is dangerous!!!! Sometimes I don’t go to sleep until 4:30 AM because I am so invested in Chuck and Blair’s relationship that hours of sleep is but a number. Check out this article that basically says exactly why people like me need to quit while they’re ahead:

    1. Arianna L Del Valle Post author

      I LOVE GOSSIP GIRL. I can definitely relate, Gossip Girl sucked me in like no other show had ever done before. I started watching it in the summer, so I didn’t have to worry about deadlines or school assignments. However, like the article says, staying up late watching episode after episode did have negative consequences on my sleep schedule. That in itself is an interesting topic, well-explained by the article you shared. I found this one on how electronics affect our sleep: Maybe it could be an incentive to turn off your laptop and computer before going to sleep (although that’s highly unlikely, seeing as we’re college students)!

  6. Madelyn Erin Peikin

    This post made me laugh, especially your picture in the very beginning of your post. I have found myself to be guilty of binge watching a show before. My love for Gossip Girl about four years ago kept me up all night, watching episode after episode. I think one of the reasons why I always wanted to watch the next episode was because it literally popped up and gave me the option to watch the next one. I think if Netflix made me go back to the main menu and click on the next episode myself, I probably would not have been so guilty of binge watching! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Arianna L Del Valle Post author

      I feel that! Gossip Girl is the culprit of many sleepless nights. And you’re totally right, the automatic playing of the next episode is a huge influencer in our binge-watching behavior. This is pretty bad when we let it control our viewing habits. This post further explains why and how we binge-watch, as well as what the results are in our bodies afterwards ( Thanks for your comment!

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