I know binge-watching TV has been all the rage for a while now, but I never bothered to indulge in the phenomenon due to my fear of commitment and all things considered “trendy.” That all changed when Netflix’s ‘House of Cards’ -- which has quickly become one of my all-time favorite shows -- launched its second season last month. I didn’t plan to spend hours on end watching Frank Underwood work his underhanded magic, glued to my bed/couch/any object that could prop me up, ignoring the real world around me. But, alas, it happened. The interwebz warned me about the perils of binge-watching TV: Addiction! Destruction! Smelliness!
And, sadly, they were right about everything.
Now that I’ve had space from this dark period in my life, I have some new perspective on what it means to be a TV Binge-Watcher, and guess what? It pretty much resembles the Five Stages of Grief, which describes what most people experience after a life-altering event. Personally, I can’t think of anything more life changing than willingly locking yourself up in a room and watching television for 72 hours. So, fellow TV lovers, I ask you: do you see yourself in the stages below?
At first I was all like, “Of course, I’ll watch the first episode of ‘House of Cards,’ but that’s it! Only one episode! I want to savor it!” And then I watched it, and my world was rocked, so, obviously, I thought: “OMG! What the what! OK, now I HAVE to watch the second episode, but that’s it! Then, I’m absolutely going to bed because I totally got this!” LIES!
Netflix’s taunting of “Play next episode?” goaded me, getting under my skin, and I found, much to my dismay, that I was one with Netflix. I hated myself. Two episodes quickly turned into three and then four, and then…who the heck knows or cares?! I was in full-on crisis mode, people. Previously to my night of debauchery, I had prided myself on showing restraint of TV consumption. That I could be the one -- maybe the only one in the free world -- who could still watch television like we did in the old days: the weekly episode. But, no! Netflix had me in its clutches. I was done. And I was oh-so-angry.
My Type A personality started to kick in (finally!) after a few hours, reminding me that I had errands to run, deadlines to meet, food to eat, a life to live. Yep, I knew what time it was: time for some real talk. So I said to myself sternly and aloud (which, by the way, is one of the first signs of slipping slowly into madness): “I’ll watch one more, and then I’ll eat. And then I’ll watch one more after that, and I’ll shower. Everything will be OK. Everything will be OK…”
Everything was not OK! I didn’t stop watching, and I didn’t even shower. All right, that’s a lie. I’m not a hobo. I showered. I had a nice meal. I even took a breath of fresh air, because, even though I was under voluntary house arrest, I knew my rights. But then I went straight back to bed, resumed play, and huddled under my blankets, rocking back and forth, wondering if my life would ever go back to how it was before I succumbed to the power of Netflix, binge-watching and ‘House of Cards.’ Then, I cried. But not because of the aforementioned. I cried because I was worried about what would happen to that little ferret (that’s a ‘HOC’ inside reference, by the way).
By the time I made it to the final episode, I was like, “Whatever. This is where I’m at right now and I’m OK with it.” And I was. I understood that following the Underwood’s journey for 72 hours was my Zuel-given destiny. Also, let's be honest, I loved knowing that I had finished watching the series before most of my friends. It was a source of pride I had never experienced before, and it felt braggy good. I liked saying to pals, “Oh! You haven’t finished it yet?” As well as, “You won’t get that reference until episode six. Just wait! It’s SO good! Oops! Maybe I said too much.” And, “What’s taking you so long? You have a life to live or something?”
Bonus Stage: EMPTINESS
This stage is not apart of the official Five Stages of Grief, but it is a genuine phase that is unique to TV binge watchers across the globe. It’s the feeling that comes when you realize that you have to wait a whole year – an entire 365 days! – if not longer, until you will revisit these characters again. You might find yourself wondering how they’re doing, what they’re up to, and if things will be the same between you once you see them again. You will wonder if you will become addicted to another show the same way ever again. And then you remember ‘Orange Is the New Black’ is coming back soon, and your void is filled. For now.