Confessions of a Binge Watcher

I have no idea what I did this weekend.

No, I didn’t drink too much and black out.  (That was a different weekend). No, I lost an entire weekend to House of Cards, the Netflix original series whose third season was just released.

There are 13 episodes, available all at once. I started Friday night and watched one or two. Saturday was snowy, so I watched five or six more. By Sunday night I had watched all thirteen. I had done nothing all weekend but watch House of Cards. And when I wasn’t watching it, I was thinking about it. Now that’s the definition of binge watching.

I normally have trouble sitting through a two-hour movie. I like my movies to clock in at 90 minutes. But House of Cards is basically a 13-hour movie with bathroom breaks. Or, in my case, snack breaks. But I simply couldn’t get enough. If there had been another 13 episodes, I would have called in sick on Monday and watched those too.

I’ve binge watched shows before. The first two seasons of House of Cards, sure, but also Breaking Bad and Orange is the New Black. I binged Breaking Bad in time to watch the final season in real time, and I did a three-season binge catch-up on The Good Wife. Hell, I even binge-watched Gilmore Girls when it was released on Netflix, even though I’d seen the entire season when it originally aired.

I guess I like to binge on binge watching.

So what is it that makes the shows show addictive? People say it’s the intricate plotting, the suspense, the way they leave you hanging at the end of each episode to make you watch the next.

But I have another theory: I think it’s the casting. Every single one of those shows showcases a stellar Emmy-worthy performance by one or more lead characters. House of Cards would be nothing without Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.  Bryan Cranston carried Breaking Bad. And it doesn’t have to be one or two superstars: OITNB relies on consistently strong performances by its entire ensemble cast, many of whom had never before had major roles.

There are dozens of great shows you could be binge watching this coming weekend. How do you choose? Instead of just going with storyline or genre, think about which characters and which actors you’d like to spend an entire weekend with. If the casting director has selected the right actors for the right roles, then you can’t go wrong.

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