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I binge-viewed, and I think I lost a month of my life

  • Okay, so maybe I'm overstating this. It is taking me way longer to decompress when I come out of these things. I watched all 7 seasons of The West Wing in 10 days or so. I went from mid-season 4 to the grand finale over the weekend. That's 59 hours of programming in three and a half days. It's exhausting! I didn't eat, I didn't sleep much. I stayed up too late and then woke up too early. What is up with that? Somebody tell me that's normal. I should see a therapist.
  • I love watching television episodes one right after the other, so we can better remember (and therefore actually see) the story arcs told in a season/series. It requires focus and stamina. Watching The West Wing, I did okay with, most of the time. Some of it, I watched to get through. Some of it, I watched because it was darn good t.v. Now that it's over, I can let it settle. I find myself in a post-mortem, thinking about the characters and their choices, and how I would fix what was wrong with season 7. I believe this is an important step. Otherwise, why do this to yourself? I think about what made me happy, what choices I thought failed, and what succeeded beautifully. For about a week and a half, I binged. I adore doing this, but it takes its toll. How are we supposed to deal? Is there a better way (of dealing, not of pacing oneself)? Is there a secret? Is there a study I can sign up for? Full immersion in an epically long story?

I was blindsided by Battlestar Galactica and I wasn't myself for a good 6 months after I started watching it for the first time. I haaated it at first. By the end of season 1, I had to know everything about these characters. I watched it over the course of 8 days on a frequently overheating computer. I was forced to take breaks, which either helped or hindered me. I can't decide. It forced me to do the post-mortem in progress, which I try to avoid. I don't decide anything other than emotional, gut reactions until I've seen everything, then pronounce if I loved it or not, or if it was good or not, or if I'll even watch it again.

  • When I watched Breaking Bad, maybe because it's not completely over just yet, I didn't have the same reaction. It was easier to recover from. Much of it felt like homework, that I needed to finish. Because it was. It was pop culture homework. What were all those internet people talking about? It was only later, when I finished what's available, that I realized I really did like it. A lot. I'm still not really sure what I think of it on a whole, but there are some great character-development episodes, and two main characters who are equally magnetic. Magnetic to watch, and magnetic to each other; pulled together as much as they are repelled from each other. Those are the best stories to watch, to me. But it took me a while to come to that conclusion. When I finished it, I'd say it lingered further back in my mind than usual. Last night's WW viewing stayed right up there at the forefront until I put on a podcast this afternoon at work just so that I'd hear another story.
  • Is that the key to all of this? Is the best way to get over one story, getting under another one? Pacing yourself is best, I'm sure, but just in case one gets carried away, stock up like the guys in Not-Costco in that Netflix ad, and prepare yourself to not leave your house until it's done, leaving a day off for recovery. Microwavable or quick-grab meals seem like a good idea. Popcorn is good, if not well-rounded in the nutrient categories. Gatorade is useful. Stock up like a hurricane is coming and enjoy your weekend? Is that the plan? Is that how one doesn't get physically run-down when focusing one's mind on 59 hours of constant story?

I also think it gets worse, the longer the series run. Game of Thrones' quick 30 episodes was nothing. A drop in the bucket. It took me a while to figure out who I am rooting for, and who I would choose, were it my story to write, but I feel that binge-viewing helped in understanding that one. It keeps a lot of storylines going with a LOT of characters. I'd only be confused if I had time to forget who is who and why they're there. I'm terrified of starting The X-Files or Supernatural because there's so much content there. Maybe one of these times I'm unemployed, I'll dive in.

  • Which brings me to my next bit of advice. NEVER WATCH A SERIES FINALE BEFORE GOING TO WORK. I cannot stress this enough. It will wreck you for the day. I've done this more than once, and I'm always kicking my ass about it. At work, you can't really let the emotion of the finale, of saying goodbye to these characters who you've grown to love (if everybody did their jobs right), you can't really let that linger. You can't reach that catharsis that comes when grieving. That understanding of how what you just watched is a sample/display/example of the human condition. Figuring out what you've learned from it, what your real reaction to it is. Breaking Bad I didn't figure out until about three days later. Game of Thrones took me a full week to appreciate. It takes time, and you won't be able to absorb it fully if you're at work. Not to mention, your face will be puffy and your nose runny, or worse—your eyes red and your body dehydrated. The day after I finished rewatching Lost was the worst non-alcoholic hangover I've ever had. I felt amazing, because I cried out all the stress, but man, I needed a Gatorade!
  • I'd love to talk about The West Wing in greater detail, because I have thoughts on the subject that are pretty strong still, but I didn't want to scare people off, since my bigger point covered more that just the narrative. I'd love to hear other thoughts on season 7. If I don't hear it here, I'll be off, scouring the internet to see if my reaction is the same as everyone else's. Sorry for the rambling.
  • Also, when looking for Josh & Donna gifs, it was revealed to me that the internet is a very creepy, stalker-y place.

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