It's a 3 a.m. on a Monday morning, and you find yourself with the pieces of popcorn that missed your mouth on your chest and your neck propped just high enough to see the screen of your laptop. You have just finished the entire third season of "Orange is the New Black" and you're having a lot of feelings. At first, you feel so happy about the season finale and excited about what is coming next. But then, reality starts to settle back in. You realize you have to learn to function without Crazy Eyes and your other new friends. You have made and lost best friends in 19 hours of binge watching. Why did you do this? How could you let yourself go this far? Whether your binge was planned or unplanned, it always unfolds in about the same way.
1. The First Episode. Binge watching a television show naturally begins with the first episode. If it is the first of a series you normally watch, you may be excited to find out what happened on the cliffhanger season finale of the previous season. If that is the case, you won't be able to resist whatever cliffhanger this first episode leaves you with, since you have basically had blue balls since January. However, if it is a pilot, you are trying not to be too judgmental. The first episode is usually not a TV show's best but it is necessary. To really find out if you like a show, you have to at least watch three to 16 episodes.
2. Snack Time. Around episode four, you start to realize that you're in this binge for the long haul. "The Long Haul" to TV watchers is code for snacks. My go-to snacks for watching TV are popcorn, celery, and peanut butter. I usually don't bring any water or fruits to reduce the need for bathroom breaks.
3. Are you still watching? At this point, you are at the peak of your mindless escapism. You are thinking about nothing but about what is in front of your face. It feels nice. And then Netflix judges you and asks if you're still watching. I'm still here, bitch!! And I have no intention of leaving!
4. You think about quitting. There's usually a moment around episode nine where you think, "Hm, maybe I want to save the rest of this series for another time. When this is over, I'm not going to have anything left to watch. I should stop." This is the last thread of sanity you have left in you while binging on TV. However, as luck would have it, the episode during which you have these rational thoughts always ends the best, so you have to keep going. Who needs sunlight...or even electric light for that matter?
5. Your mom calls. At this point, you have been watching TV for 10 hours. You haven't talked to your friends or family, and your mom is probably coming up with crazy ideas about what you might be up to. If you choose to answer the phone call, act casual. She doesn't need to know about the strength and effort you have put into your marathon. She won't understand. Just very normally say, "Hey! Yeah, I've had a super busy day...I'm just watching TV now." It's not a lie. You've been busy. Watching TV.
6. Three episodes left. You know in your heart that you're not actually going to stop here. You're in way too deep, and everything you have done all day will be for nothing. However, there is a tiny voice in your head, the rational voice that you thought you had completely silenced at the end of episode nine that tells you that maybe you should save the final episodes for a time where you can really enjoy them on their own. Savor each moment. But then you hit the "Yes, I'm still watching" button, and there is only tunnel vision to the finale.
7. Your show ends. You close your laptop and stare into the dark abyss of your room. It's just as dramatic as it sounds. You have no idea how to conduct yourself in the real world, so you just go to sleep and dream of all the new friends you made that day.