The Facts of Life: I have become a binge victim

It’s happened to me, this passive activity called “bingeing” which I’ve read about on Twitter and elsewhere.

As an outsider I had come to consider it as a kind of obverse discipline imposed by vicious streaming services. Instead of conscientiously allotting a reasonable amount of time to watching segments of a TV series, the binge victim collapses into permitting the service to cut short the end credits of each episode and to segue immediately into the next episode. And on, even into the next episode. And on…

Why would anybody voluntarily submit to this?

Until now, I have been known as a person of good discipline. I manage what I’m doing and when I want to stop doing what I’m doing in order to get on to something else, I manage that, too. Like sleeping. Or checking Twitter.

So I never got why people announced they were bingeing on some show or other. Indeed, I especially never got why people announced they were actively looking for a show upon which to binge, and were requesting binge recommendations.

It’s as if they were testing a variety of homemade drugs and asking which they should be ingesting.

In other words, I got to sneer at hapless binge addicts.

Now I’m one of ’em. I switched from BritBox and Acorn to NetFlix, where I re-discovered Longmire.

Previously, my “bingeing” consisted of watching and re-watching all three Miss Marples and all one Hercule Poirot (all but David Suchet are poseurs) and, well, Foyle’s War more or less multiple times, in chronological order. But I now realize this could not be termed “bingeing” because I knew all the episodes so well I’d be reading the newspaper or some book while murmuring all the lines along with the actors. So it was more companionship than bingeing.

Bingeing is something different. It is watching everything in order, yes, but hooks you by making you go on to the next episode, no matter what the time is. And you can’t read books while watching.

I’d first seen and enjoyed Longmire when it was on another channel years ago. I wasn’t fixed to its schedule then but whenever I located it, I’d watch. Then I couldn’t locate it any more.

I did not realize NetFlix had picked up and extended it. So I was glad to have it back on my TV, and began watching from the first season, first episode. For a while, Longmire fit perfectly into my needs: I’d watch an episode or maybe two and then switch to something else until I was ready to turn the TV off and go straight to books.

Then, last week or maybe the week before, something happened: the episode I was watching startled me out of my chair by ending in a cliffhanger. What? Longmire didn’t do cliffhangers, unless they were actual cliffs and somebody was hanging off them. But not at the end of an episode.

So I had to go on to the next episode because, I mean, you don’t leave key actors hanging off cliffs when you go to end credits. It’s a rule; I don’t know whose rule; maybe it’s my rule; but it’s a rule.

(Well, A Place To Call Home did do a cliffhanger at the end of a season which, I learned only after watching it, might be the last season, and I started to scream at the TV and would’ve called the Australian producers to scream at them until I learned via frantic internetting that, yes, they’d contracted to produce another season so I stopped screaming. P.S. The actor did not drink the poisoned health concoction.)

I don’t know if this is a recommendation or a warning but I’m now bingeing Longmire.

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