The Pros and Cons of Binge-Watching Television

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A 25-year-old American recently set the Guinness World Record for most hours spent binge-watching television. He managed to make it to 94 hours before sleep deprivation inevitably caught up with him.

I recently pulled off my own major TV binge-watch. While it wasn’t as impressive as going for almost four days straight, I watched all seven seasons of Californication in just five days. That’s 84 episodes — almost 42 hours of TV. I basically spent more than a third of each day watching Netflix.

I might not have set any records, but I did learn a lot about the pros and cons of binge-watching television A Short Guide To Binge-Watching [Weird & Wonderful Web] A Short Guide To Binge-Watching [Weird & Wonderful Web] Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video have turned binge-watching into a mainstay of the mainstream. Before you begin binge-watching TV you should arm yourself with some important information. This short guide helps. Read More .

PRO: Get it Over With Quickly

One of the big advantages of binge-watching TV shows on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime: Which Should You Choose? Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime: Which Should You Choose? It has been years since we've compared heavy-hitting streaming services, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. And with changes in pricing, content, quality, and interface, we thought it was time to revisit the topic. Read More , is that you get it over and done with quickly.

If you’re working your way slowly through one of the many great original shows on Netflix 13 New Netflix Originals You'll Be Watching in 2016 13 New Netflix Originals You'll Be Watching in 2016 Netflix has released a lot of original content -- including House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, Narcos, and Master of None -- but 2016 is slated to be Netflix's most exciting year yet. Read More it becomes all too easy to procrastinate. Try sitting down to write an article when the next episode of Daredevil is a single click away. It’s next to impossible.

By going all in you can, weirdly, be more productive. While I didn’t get a whole lot of work done while I was binge-watching Californication, I’m now back to my usual productive self How a Simple Pomodoro Timer Made My Life Better How a Simple Pomodoro Timer Made My Life Better The Pomodoro Technique is one of the simpler time management life hacks. Break through distractions with the help of 25-minute chunks and a timer. It could be a life-changing routine change if it suits you. Read More . Rather than being mildly distracted for a few weeks, I was completely distracted for just a few days.

My binge was pretty extreme by any measure that doesn’t set world records, but even if you don’t have the same level of flexibility with your time, the point still remains. TV shows can take over your life, so getting through one as quickly as possible minimizes the damage to your hygiene, social life, and productivity.

CON: Less Emotional Highs

One of the big problems with binge-watching is that you don’t really get the chance to think about what has happened. As soon as one episode is over you’re on to the next.

A big part of the anticipation everyone was feeling for the latest season of Game of Thrones was that the last series ended on a massive cliffhanger — if you don’t know what happened, here’s how to avoid spoilers GoT Spoiled? How to Avoid Game of Thrones Spoilers GoT Spoiled? How to Avoid Game of Thrones Spoilers I managed to avoid Game of Thrones spoilers for the duration of Season 5. In doing so, I learned how to ensure the Internet doesn't ruin your favorite television show. Read More . As the show has now outpaced the books, even people like me who have been reading A Song of Ice and Fire for years don’t have a clue what’s going to happen next. For the last nine months there have been countless articles, online discussions, and water cooler arguments theorizing about what’s going to happen in the next season.

When you binge-watch a show these highs and lows just don’t hit you as hard. You’re onto the next episode before you can really process that “SPOILER has died” or “CHARACTER A and CHARACTER B finally got together.” There’s no anticipation.

PRO: See the Small Things

When you’re watching dozens of episodes of a show back-to-back, you notice the small things. Minor characters that show up two seasons later, call backs to earlier episodes, running gags, and all the little changes that show a character is developing as a person.


The writers, directors, and actors spend years immersed in the shows they create. By the end, they have a near-encyclopedic knowledge of their work. In most shows, this means there are constant minor details that, if you’re only watching an episode a week, you’ll never catch. Being able to see the little things makes for a much more satisfying viewing experience.

CON: Easy to Second-Screen

As cool as it is to see all the minor details that repeat between episodes and seasons, seeing the major ones can get irritating. Almost every TV show rehashes plot lines, overuses catchphrases, or just has a character who has an insufferably slow arc. You don’t notice these issues anywhere near as much when you’re watching a show on a weekly basis.


When you start to get annoyed by all the repetition, it’s all too easy to browse Twitter or Facebook on your smartphone. Even when you’re watching a brand new episode of your favorite show, second-screening is a real issue; when you’re a little fed up with Barney saying, “Legen — wait for it — dary”, you can spend more time on Reddit than actually watching the episode.

PRO: It’s Great Fun

Let’s be honest, the main reason people binge-watch shows is that it’s awesome.

Curling up on the couch with a great series and some junk food is a killer way to spend a Saturday. You wouldn’t want to do it all the time but, for a couple of days, locking your door, eating takeaway and staring at a screen is great fun — although it might drive you slightly crazy I Stared at Screens for 48 Hours and Here's What Happened... I Stared at Screens for 48 Hours and Here's What Happened... I recently agreed to do something very stupid: subject myself to as much screen time as possible over the span of 48 hours. How did this experiment affect me? Read on to find out... Read More .

CON: It Makes You Less Social

Binge-watching is an inherently anti-social activity. While you CAN do it with someone else, that involves coordinating schedules and all sorts of other hassle. One person normally caves and watches an episode without the other person, and a full-blown domestic dispute happens. It’s best to just go it alone.

If, like me, you get really caught up in a show, you’ll probably just avoid all social occasions until you’re done. If you live by yourself, it’s easy to go a few days where the only people you interact with drive a moped and have a Dominoes Pizza logo on their clothing.


Finally, you don’t get to talk about each new episode with your friends throughout the week. When Game of Thrones is on, my friends and I will dissect each new episode. And this makes the show more fun.

All of this combines to make binge-watching far less social than watching an episode a week as it’s broadcast.

Fade Out

On balance, binge-watching TV shows is worth doing from time-to-time. If you find that you’re never leaving the house, you should consider cancelling your Netflix subscription 7 Reasons You Should Avoid Subscribing to Netflix 7 Reasons You Should Avoid Subscribing to Netflix Just as there are pitfalls to cutting the cord, there are downsides to Netflix you might consider to be deal-breakers. So before you sign up to Netflix, take a moment to consider these imperfections. Read More to remedy that problem, but if you go into full hermit mode every couple of months, locking yourself away with a bag of sweets and a fast Internet connection, you’re not hurting anyone, least of all yourself. And you’re going to have a blast.

I don’t plan on trying to beat 94 hours, or even just binge-watching every season of another TV show for at least a little while. That last (and lost) weekend was awesome, but I won’t do it again too quickly. Binge-watching is great — but it does have its downsides.

Do you binge-watch television? What pros and cons have you discovered? Do you agree with my list of pros and cons? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Credit: watching TV by g-stockstudio via Shutterstock

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  1. Jobe
    August 17, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    I guess Netflix gives you bigger backhanders than Dominoes then....

  2. waqar ahmed
    December 21, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    I used to binge now ive stopped cos I heard it's bad for you if I need to catch up with a show which I'm doing right now with arrow I only watch one episode a day