The Binge-Watcher’s Manual

It’s amazing what obligations I’ll postpone in the name of good TV: doctor appointments, dinner plans with old friends, deadlines. Once, during an episode of Black Mirror, I held in my pee for 24 minutes. In 2011, I ditched my own birthday dinner to consume The Office instead.

The best way to watch TV, of course, is via a Netflix bender. And the only thing better than a Netflix bender is binge-watching shows with a partner in visual crime.

One such occurrence in Netflix content history: when Tina Fey’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was released. But before you gobble that sitcom down with your roommate or sex partner like Thanksgiving’s last drum stick, I kindly ask you to remember that a binge-watching union is the marriage of our times, except it’s even more precarious. The stakes are higher.

And because of that, there are rules.

There’s No “I” in Team

The first and most important rule of binge-watching stipulates that if you started a show with a partner, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES may you watch an episode of “your series” without said partner. You and your roommate started House of Cards together and now she’s out of town lobbying for ferrets’ rights? Season 3 will have to wait.

Eyes on the Prize

Don’t be the asshole who’s constantly asking the remote-controller to rewind scenes. This person is the worst, and does a grave injustice to himself and everyone around him by ruining televised flow. If you missed something, make it up on your own time. It’s not our fault you spent 10 minutes figuring out which Thai place to order from on Seamless.

Which brings me to our next point:

Be Prepared

All food orders must be placed before an episode begins. In addition, all dishes should be washed, hair should be flat-ironed and Windex-able surfaces should be Windexed either prior to or after the binge. Multi-tasking may be productive, but it’s distracting to others and thus strongly discouraged.

The only acceptable exceptions for a pause: bathroom breaks (within reason, Niagara Falls), and answering the doorbell to accept delivery orders.


iPhones, iPads and all other iDevices are banned from the Netflix continuum.

Respect the 10 Day Grace Period

A friend of mine recently made it on my shit list when he sent me a particularly juicy-headlined review of House of Cards — ONE DAY AFTER ITS RELEASE.

Yes, our culture looks at yesterday’s news with fatigued eyes. Yes, the very practice in question has numbed our sense of time, but are you really going to tell me that a majority of the viewing population watched 12 dense episodes of House of Cards in 24 hours?

Hence, I’ve mandated that all who binge-watch must refrain from sending out recaps, reviews, or spoiler-infused GIFS for at least ten days after a show’s been released.

We may be lazy and content crazed, but we are not robots.

Make a Game Plan

Both parties involved in the binge-watching pact should share realistic expectations. What’s your max? What’s your safe word? How much Don Draper can you potentially handle in one sitting? Do you prefer to think on an episode for a few minutes before clicking “next,” or are you on to episode two before the credits begin?

It helps to have a strategy in place.

Use this guide to get safely through the weekend, and set your alarm for Monday now. You’re about to embark on one hell of a black hole.

Collage image via W Magazine

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  • Allie Fasanella

    I still believe the reason my cousin and I became closer is because we had a 48 hour binge session when I got One Tree Hill season 1 and 2 for Christmas in 7th grade. Without this OTH binge I don’t think I would call her one of my best friends but don’t tell her this.

    • Esther Levy

      I felt this way about my high school boyfriend and the OC. He listened to Death Cab and wore plaid shirts and when I closed my eyes, I saw Seth Cohen

      • Allie Fasanella

        I’m suprised it didn’t last man

      • Kelsey Moody

        what a beautiful sentiment, my exboyfriend (tall/blonde/asshole) and Downton Abbey season 1…I closed my eyes, I saw Matthew Crawley

        • Esther Levy

          He really does have the face of a (beautiful) a-hole

          • Amelia Diamond

            I miss his face. #bringbackmatthew

  • Maggie Clancy

    I am a big proponent of no phones/ipads/distractions. My roommate will putz around her phone and if I laugh at something, ask me to rewind it.
    No more, I say. Respect the binge, y’all.

  • Love this! Actually just binged watched season 1 and 2 of House of Cards in a week so I could watch 3 with everyone else!

  • Aydan

    Good god black mirror may be the best television I’ve ever seen. I was discussing it with a coworker the other day and she told me she ended up having nightmares even though all I had done was explain it and show her the trailers!

  • There’s nothing like a good Netflix binge to make or break a new relationship

  • This is so scary because it reminds me of myself. Respect the binge and I do not tolerate rewinding or preparing food during. Get it figured out beforehand.

  • tunie

    So very glad you’ve conveyed the gravity of #1. Most recent two binges: A girl crush on Lake Bell compelled me to binge the whole series of her short-lived tv show, Surface. She is awesome and the show was a perfect, light, sci-fi thriller. 2nd: Velvet, a Spanish Downton Abbey style period drama about the people who run a family-owned couture department store in Madrid.

  • Currently settling in for a Girls marathon myself where I’ve made sure all bodily functions are attended to prior!

  • WhatDoUWant4Bday

    You know what’s even better? Binge Reading all of Esther Levy’s Articles!
    When I’m done I feel like I’ve channelled al, of Esther’s Snarkiness,and Wiseass remarks…..

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  • Pretty sure I live by this manual