Binge-watching. We’ve all been there.
“It’ll be fun,” your friend said, as you first logged in to her account, which is shared with two more of your friends.
“You’re going to love it,” she said, as she grabbed you a blanket and asked what kind of snacks you wanted. Maybe she even made some tea for the occasion.
I think we all remember the first show we really, truly binge-watched. (Mine was Orange is the New Black.) It was that moment of self-disgust and total removal from society that made you wonder if anything happened in the outside world while you were missing. After all, you’d been stowed away in your cave for what felt like weeks.
The stages of binge-watching start off subtle. You never realize what kind of monster you have become until you are full-fledged binge-watching every show as soon as its released. But we all start at the same place.
Stage 1 of Binge-Watching: The Introduction
This is the first time you start using subscription services like Netflix and Hulu. It all starts out so innocent. You either want to save money and nix cable, or you just want a wider selection of TV programming to watch. But we all have that learning stage when we are flipping through the categories, saving shows we think we might like. Then, we start watching.
Stage 2 of Binge-Watching: The Instant Connection
Not too long after your introduction to Netflix do you begin to feel a certain level of affection for the service. You feel understood. You feel loved.
Stage 3 of Binge-Watching: Your First Show
This is the moment that marks the beginning of the end. You find the first show you really like, and you happen to have a sizable chunk of time to kill. You begin at Episode 1. Since the episodes automatically keep playing, you don’t leave your couch. You coast through to Episode 5, ignoring calls from your boyfriend and your mom. You contact nobody from the outside world.
Stage 4 of Binge-Watching: The Low-Key Obsession
Because you have to go out and do things every now and then, you leave Netflix, promising to return to it later. You begin to think about Netflix when you’re at work. At the grocery store. Getting your hair cut. You really can’t stop trying to figure out the next time you’ll be able to jump back into your show, even if it’s just for two-episode intervals.
Stage 5 of Binge-Watching: The Total Show-Hole
It happens on a Friday night. You rush home from work, pop in your favorite frozen pizza, and get into your best sweatpants. Your bra flies off at the speed of a slingshot. You prepare for the best night of your life and turn off your phone, or at least silence it. You then proceed to watch the rest of your first show—no matter how many seasons it has, there are never too many. You cannot stop watching. You spend comparable to 10 hours watching your show, pushing yourself to stay up through one more episode. One more season.
Stage 6 of Binge-Watching: Self-Disgust
You sleep until 2 p.m. the next day and shake your head in disbelief: How did I watch all that TV last night? You vow to get outside and breathe some fresh air. No TV today.
Stage 7 of Binge-Watching: Relapse
You take a long gander at the outdoors through a sliver in your blinds. Something about the setting reminds you of your show—maybe it’s the trees or the way the sun is reflecting off the tin roof of your shed. You forget all about your “no TV” pact with yourself, throw on a snuggie, and get to streaming.
Stage 8 of Binge-Watching: Acceptance
There’s nothing wrong with the way I’m living my life, you tell yourself. This is just who I am now.
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