Suddenly, our cable and Internet providers have become our most valued assets. This sheltering in place finds us awake and, in our homes, at least 16 hours each day. That leaves a lot of time to sit in front of your big-screen television.
Could you imagine what life would be like if this virus hit us in the ‘70s, before the age of the Internet and streaming services? Cable TV was in its infancy, very pricey and not available everywhere. We heard about something called a VCR becoming available soon but didn’t think it would come in our lifetime. We were stuck with channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9 and 11. Sometimes something cool would happen on Channel 13, but not often.
If a virus were going to shutdown socializing with other people, it couldn’t have come at a better time, technologically speaking. Our entertainment options today are virtually limitless. If electricity continues to somehow make it into our homes, we can shelter in place for a long time without ever being allowed to call it torture.
Binge-watching has changed the way some people enjoy their favorite television programs. In the past, we were at the mercy of network programmers. They controlled what was watched and when it was watched. Up until a few years ago, we were all okay with that arrangement when it came to new programs.
The advent of DVD collections allowed us to purchase complete seasons of our favorite series and become our own network programmers. Unfortunately, we were always dealing with reruns, never new programming.
That all changed when subscriber-based networks like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime began producing their own original programming. Bucking the trail set by 75 years of television viewing, these networks released all episodes for a season simultaneously, allowing their subscribers to decide when and how many to watch.
What followed wasn’t surprising in the age of “Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie!” Instead of enjoying single episodes of a television show and savoring it like a nice steak or an outstanding bottle of wine, people were gorging themselves like the last call at a Chinese buffet. Before they knew it, the trays were gone and they were still hungry.
There are reasons people stranded on a deserted island don’t eat all the remaining food on the first night. You must learn to ration your supplies to survive in the long run. Binge-watching evolved because people’s lives were busy and hectic. When finally settling on the couch, they didn’t want to get up. TV series have a limited number of shows per season. It’s like an unopened box of Devil Dogs.
It’s hard to eat just one Devil Dog when there are 10 in the box. But you learn to slow down when there are only two or three left, don’t you? It should be the same for your TV viewing of shows you genuinely enjoy.
Take some advice from a guy that has spent his entire life watching television. Resist the temptation to binge-watch your favorite TV series the weekend a new season is released. If we’re in this for the long haul, you’re going to burn out all those new episodes quickly. Do you know how many lousy television programs are out there?
Limit yourself to just one or two episodes of that new season per week. I call it, “TV like it used to be!” Every week will be a new adventure. Why rush through something you enjoy? If you must binge-watch, do it with a series, you’ve never seen before. People are always recommending them to you. If the show hasn’t caught your interest in three episodes, it never will.
Keep in mind, once you’ve eaten all the Devil Dogs in the box, you may not like anything from the box marked “Little Debbie.” That box of Devil Dogs won’t last forever.
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award-winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.