The Binge-Watching Phenomenon

We have all probably experienced binge-watching in some way. OKWU sophomore, Kyle Essary, watched all seven seasons of Parks and Recreation in three days. His reason, he notes, is “Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson.” Personally, I have watched both seasons of Gran Hotel in a week and a half. No matter what the show, everybody can relate. The question then becomes, “Where did binge-watching start and does watching excessive amounts of television affect our health?”

simpsons binge watching
Gracie Films/ Sip Advisor

According to Huffington Post, the term “binge” came from the late ’90s. “Fans of the popular sci-fi show The X-Files posted messages on UseNet, one of the first Internet forums, offering to travel across the country for video tapes of earlier episodes of the show that they had missed” (Bianca and Western). With a now-appropriate term to label the act of excessive show watching, binge-watching has flooded many lives with a variety of TV shows, movies, and documentaries.

The single advantage to binge-watching for college students is that it provides a study break. Some of Dr. Quick’s students remember an explanation of the idea that our mind can only focus for fifteen minutes, so it makes sense that catching a show on Netflix provides a quick way to let off steam and regroup. OKWU junior Miranda Coffey says, “I have to have background noise in order to do my homework, so Netflix actually helps me to focus.” Psychology Today published an article on the effects of binge-watching. They state neuroscience (the study of how the nervous system works) as the reason behind all the late-night watching. In our brains, we have a left and a right hemisphere; the left is more logical, and the right is more emotional. When we watch TV, our minds shift from left to right and allow our bodies to relax. Oklahoma Wesleyan sophomore biology major, Tyler Proffitt, claims to binge-watch on Netflix because it helps [him] to get away. “I start thinking too much on the work and when I take a break and go back it helps me to focus.”

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Although binge-watching has its benefits, watching too much television can also lead to serious problems. For college students, it can take them away from studies and therefore, logically, reduce their grades. For post-college students and others it may lead to depression, loss of appetite, or lack of social skills. Entertainment Weekly sent out a video with many different celebrities speaking against binge-watching. The celebrities have created a list on how to binge-watch properly and what to avoid when doing so. Essentially, it is a list of do’s and don’ts.

  1. Do: Keep yourself hydrated and eat on a regular basis
  2. Do: Take breaks (there is a real world out there)
  3. Don’t: Watch one show then flip to another
  4. Don’t: Be a spoiler (Nobody likes a spoiler.)
  5. Do: Only watch thirteen episodes [or less] in a row.
  6. Don’t: (from the one and only Ron Swanson) “Dabble in narcotics; do not let watching drugs cause you to use them.”


Ron Swanson mug shot
“Don’t dabble.” – Ron Swanson
Photo Credit:

Each celebrity that took part in the video understands that people binge-watching their shows gives them a profit, but they all wish to stress the importance of keeping yourself healthy and binge-watching safely.

A new addition to Netflix is the post play feature; a fifteen second intermission before the next episode starts. Some may call it a blessing, others a curse. Why? A blessing because it saves time from going back to the browser to click the next episode. A curse because it virtually takes away the option to choose to watch the next episode.
Streaming video sites do a fantastic job of fulfilling our television-watching needs. Sophomore Preston Walker says his favorite part about Netflix is “all the seasons.” Netflix’s recent addition of Gilmore Girls and Friends has caused almost everyone to binge-watch a season or two.

Whatever the case, it is important to acknowledge that binge-watching affects your lifestyle. For some, that means moderation is key; for others, it means the more the merrier.

Cover Graphic: Kariny Delahaye

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