Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.
Joe and I can be pretty different in terms of hobbies—I like reading, he likes sports. I like cooking/baking, he likes sports. You get the idea. But one thing we absolutely love to do is watch TV together. And, I mean, watch A LOT of TV together.
To binge: a short period devoted to indulging in an activity to excess.
“TV bingeing” is a relatively new term, prompted by Netflix, Hulu, and the availability of TV seasons on DVD. And it’s exactly what it sounds like…watching a lot of one show at once. Gone are the days of wondering what will happen week to week. It’s high-volume consumption and perfectly fits the mantra of our generation and that of Veruca Salt: We want it now.
Minus the screaming and hair pulling.
This behavior is how we got into Lost (catching up on three seasons before ever watching it live) and how we watched all of Arrested Development. It’s a way to unwind and escape. It’s a way to share. It’s just fun for us and usually involves jammies, snacks, blankets and piling on the couch with Bells. Win. Win. Win. Win. Double win.
Binge watching is usually best—and easiest—when a show is completely over. You run the risk of spoilers from the outside world, but it’s nice to know that you can watch all the way through and never worry about when the next season is coming, or having to wait at all to see what happens next. My brother raised an interesting point last night—“Is some of the fun in these shows the waiting, the discussing, the anticipation?” ….maybe. But I guess I’m a little impatient. If you don’t have to, why wait?
Our latest binge adventure has been Breaking Bad. This drama from AMC ended last year and we’ve managed to not hear or read any spoilers. Quite an incredible feat, since it generated so much hype and discussion. Here’s a watered-down version of the plot: A brilliant high-school chemistry teacher, who has a 16-year-old son with cerebral palsy and an oops-we’re-pregnant wife, is diagnosed with lung cancer. In order to provide for the family he’s about to leave behind, he starts to cook meth with a former student. This ain’t no Waltons. … although, his name is Walt. We’re on Season Four (of five) now and enjoy catching an episode here and there during our busy weeks and doing the actually bingeing on the weekends. This show is a lot like Dexter, where you find yourself cheering on, almost championing, a total monster. It puts you in a weird place. But, since I’m from the meth capitol of the country (yeah, Oklahoma!), there’s no place like home.
Here are a few shows on our binge-watching shortlist:
5. NBC Comedies
There are so many shows whose bandwagons I ignored and now regret: 30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Recreation…I’m constantly reminded (mostly by my bro) about how awesome these shows were/are. I’ve only seen one episode of The Office. I watched it at the gym while I was full out running on the treadmill. I started laughing so hard I tripped and fell off. (For those who watch the show: it was the episode where the company Christmas party turned into an intervention.)
4. Seinfeld (Entertainment Weekly’s #3 choice)
I know the characters. I know the jokes. But I don’t know the show. I think I was too young for the Seinfeld craze, but I think I’d appreciate it more now anyway.
3. The Sopranos (EW’s No. 5)
I’ve wanted to watch this show for a very long time, but my interest surged after the sudden death of its star, James Gandolfini, last year. Joe and I…specialize?…in binge watching really heavy dramas, usually with violence. I guess we’re not happy TV people. So, by those standards, this fits our bill perfectly. After serial killers (Dexter) and drug lords (Breaking Bad), the Mafia might just be a welcome respite from the madness.
2. Friday Night Lights (EW’s No. 48)
When the people I love share the books and TV shows they love, I listen. Both my brother and Bobbie have told me this show is amazing. I fully intend to check it out. Small town high-school football in Texas? I understand that culture completely. And any excuse to drool over Connie Britton’s hair for five seasons is a good one.
1. The Wire (EW’s No. 1)
This has long been regarded by critics and…basically anyone in the entertainment industry…as the best show ever on TV. Joe and I have been champin’ at the bit to watch it and—guess what?—Santa, in the form of my sister and bro-in-law, delivered. This is our next bingey adventure, once we finish Breaking Bad. From what I’ve heard, it’s based on a real Baltimore cop, so maybe we’ll be rewarded with a few glimpses of Peabody or other favorite areas from when I was a Bal’mor resident.
Runners-Up: Mad Men (EW’s No. 9), Deadwood, The West Wing, The Shield (seasons 3-7 left), Six Feet Under