When I graduated college, I staved off the inevitable nightmare of hunting for a job that would let me use my degree productively and participated in the neo-American past-time: binge-watching. I chose True Detective.
Worst decision of my life.
Binge-watching is fun, but it’s like eating candy. All of the candy, all at once. Like books, some TV requires undivided attention, time, and focus to chew on its themes. Binge-watching might leave you full, but do you remember the flavor? You’ve probably forgotten a crucial character or plot detail, and it’s all because you couldn’t be patient.
Here are some of the most popular shows you messed up by watching all at once.
1. ‘True Detective’
Binge-ing True Detective during those lazy, sunny June afternoons right after graduation outright murdered my mood my first week in the “real world.” The existential, cosmic terror that underscored every episode was far too overwhelming, especially when consumed so quickly. The climactic, pulse-pounding tracking shot that ended episode four took my breath away. I should have taken a day or two off, but I went right back to marathoning. By the end of the season, I was mentally burnt to a crisp.
2. ‘The Wire’
Although lacking the cosmic existentialism that True Detective tormented with, The Wire’s heartbreaking reality — helped by its realistic, documentary look — can be emotionally traumatizing. Dealing with so much death so quickly won’t allow you to mull over its consequences or its weight. Being one of the best television series western civilization has ever offered, The Wire’s five seasons can go by quick when it should be savored.
3. ‘Game of Thrones’
I could copy some of what I said about The Wire and paste it here, but Game of Thrones doubles, no, triples down on the heartbreaking moments and breathtaking set pieces. This fifth season alone has had a load of buzz from the sheer scale of its stakes, the physical and emotional. Don’t binge Game of Thrones, you’ll be numb.
4. ‘Mad Men’
One of the weirdest criticisms about Mad Men is that “nothing happens.” That is BS, stuff totally happens! There just aren’t any dragons or huge sieges in the Sterling Cooper offices. (But there are shitty people and corporate takeovers, so kinda the same thing.)
Still, it is a remarkably subdued show when compared to its prestige drama brethren, like Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones. Don’s bizarre, seven-year journey into finding comfort with his identity is best enjoyed like a nice scotch: Slow and steady.
5. ‘Breaking Bad’
Walter White’s destructive descent into modern television’s greatest villain is not a journey to blow through in a weekend. Even two is too short. Every season ends with a bang and they should not be diminished because you’re still thinking about the last season’s cliffhanger.
When there is an entire Wikipedia page devoted to listing all the awards the show achieved, that means it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Finding out the killer of Danny Latimer is a thrilling, twisting maze full of surprises and shock reveals. Getting to that reveal so quickly spoils what is debatably one of the richest serial detective dramas in modern television. This isn’t procedural like CSI, nor is it too harsh or self-indulgent like True Detective. It’s just a moody, engrossing mystery that deserves its time.
7. ‘Black Mirror’
In the spirit of The Twilight Zone, this thematically grim sci-fi anthology series satirizes modern technology. So, you should feel shitty spending your free time with your TV. The very title refers to our dark reflections and the unknown that happen on our monitors. And it’s not comforting to mull over, staring at the screen looking at your reflection for the fifteen seconds Netflix prepares the next episode.
Like, Netflix started doing that because we’re too lazy for the remote. This is staring into the abyss.