A few years ago, I binge-watched Eureka. All five seasons. Mostly in order. (Actually, a friend recommended I start on season 4 before going back to the earlier seasons, which in hindsight I find to be excellent advice.) It’s a truth that more viewers, and more college students, binge watch television, especially when services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime actually release full seasons all at one go.
On the one hand, this is great — you don’t have to book the television in the dorm common room on a Sunday night before a big Monday test to catch the latest episode of The Walking Dead, you can stream shows on your computer whenever they fit into your schedule. The down side? If you spend too much time on a binge watch you can still flunk out. Here are some tips on binge-watching without failing your classes.
1. Have your priorities in order.
Okay, so this sounds like a no brainer, but it’s really important to make sure you’re managing your time well. For example, tonight I am not watching the latest episode of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD waiting in my Amazon Prime queue because I’m writing this article on deadline. (Don’t worry, Agent Coulson, you’re up next.) Be sure that you’re getting the things done that need to be done before you’re investing hours in front of your computer not doing homework.
What should your priorities be? Think about your health and safety first (which means both your physical and your mental health—for me, sometimes that means taking a well-earned break and catching a single episode of a show before hitting the books again). Your next priority is academics, followed by your finances. Don’t sacrifice your grades for catching a few more episodes of House MD on Netflix. I know all eight seasons are there… but they’ll still be there tomorrow. And don’t invest a ton of cash to buy your favorite old shows on Amazon Prime. I know you can’t find Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on any of the subscription sites, but if you don’t have it in your budget mid-semester, don’t do it.
2. Binge watch in place of other things.
Several writers at the A.V. Club, back on January 7, 2015, gave this advice: “Less binge drinking, more binge watching.” In other words, they said: “Put down those cigarettes, hop onto the elliptical machine, and pick up the remote.” While they’re offering that advice with a certain amount of humor, it’s true that binge-watching can be better for you than other things:
- The aforementioned binge drinking (which is both bad for your physical health and hits you in the pocketbook).
- Going out for entertainment. You don’t have to stay in all the time! But a monthly subscription to Hulu with no commercials is $12/month (if you’re willing to get the commercials, it’s only $8). By contrast, a single movie ticket is, on average $8. (In my local theater, they’re $11.65… so about the same as a month’s worth of all the old Seinfeld episodes I can watch, plus many more!)
- Watching TV on your TV. I have the Netflix app on my tablet, which I can take with me to the gym. If your campus gym has a treadmill, you can plug in your headphones and binge watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother while you go for a run.
3. Binge watch with friends
A sure way to keep yourself from saying “just one more episode…” the day before your paper is due is to schedule your binge-watching with friends. Make Friday after your last class the start of whatever show you’re going to binge on, grab your friends, gather around whoever’s screen is the biggest, and catch up on Avatar: The Last Airbender. (No. Seriously. Do it.)
Limiting your time to when your friends are also available means if you get too caught up in the series, someone will have the good sense to call it a night before you all lose your Friday night sleep time. Even if it’s just you and your roommate on a Wednesday, because neither of you have class until Thursday afternoon, having that second set of eyes—and second conscious—will help out.
4. Check your schedule
If you have a test or paper due, turn off the screen. Shut down Facebook. Buckle down and study.
Then, when it’s over, load up Game of Thrones on HBO Go to celebrate!