Netflix vs. studying: The student’s dilemma

It’s time for midterms. Workloads are mounting. You just finished eight hours of class, and no, you cannot go have a beer with your friends because you have so many readings to do just to get through the next two days. Reading Week is around the corner and you are just going to hunker down, and get to work. You will relax when the time comes.

Is binge-watching TV shows healthy? Photo by Cody Hoffman
Is binge-watching TV shows healthy? Photo by Cody Hoffman

And then you get home. You are tired, and after you have that sandwich, you just need to lie on the couch for 20 minutes before you sit down at your desk. Your roommate is flipping through the tube, and stumbles upon the newest episode of Parks and Rec. Yeah I have time to watch that, it’s only 10:30. But deep inside, you know that this is not just one 22 minute stay (if you taped it on PVR) in the living room. This is going to last for as long as you can stay awake. After all, you have two full seasons of Parks and Recreation to watch, because why not. And then maybe you will go see what all the hype is about the Orange is the New Black is. What kind of premise is a show about women in jail?

The scenario I just described is something that most of us at Laurier Brantford have experienced at some point during our time here. Or perhaps more accurately, something that we do once a week. Planning your out-of-class time is difficult to begin with, especially if you are really determined to do every reading. The pressures of working, keeping up with your friends, and going to the gym means that there just isn’t that many hours a day to sufficiently fulfill our college responsibilities. I am preaching to myself with this article. I am a TV slave, and follow way too many shows at any given time. I just finished The Americans, finally, except now I have to very willingly follow the new seasons of Sons of Anarchy and find out what new fall TV shows are worth getting hooked on. And I have done all of this while never having Netflix. And guess what? This year I do. I also like to go to the movies, and would be going twice a week this semester if I had enough money and/or there was actually any good movies worth seeing. Box office struggles aside, the struggle is real, and it is not going away.

That is not to say that you cannot do very well in school, commit to multiple extra-curricular activities, work out, go out for wings, and still watch your favourite shows every night. It is entirely possible, and I think I am a good example. But is it healthy? Is it a good idea? I have mostly gotten by waiting to watch my shows until right before I go to bed, which basically just makes me go to bed late every night and in turn makes me tired every day.

So which is it? Is it bad to spend too many hours watching TV? Or is it OK as long as you are getting your work done and staying on top of things? I thought there must be a study or report about college and binge watching, so I hit the Internet. And the main thing I found is that watching too much TV will shorten your life. Well, I might have never fully received that message in the past, but it makes sense. However, there are a lot of things us students do that probably does not help our health, so I decided that was not the best deterrent.

The newest fad in the TV world is binge watching. By now, we are all familiar with it, and have all participated in it. But where in the past it was something that you automatically felt guilty for, it is now the baseline behind many shows. Netflix is destroying the TV kings of old off the sole premise that people want to binge watch, so why not give them what they ask. You want to wait after the show airs and is on DVD so you can watch it in one sitting? Well here, they just gave you the whole second season of House of Cards all at once. Finish it by 3 am and pat yourself on the back.

This is the future of TV, and more and more networks are going to switch to this model. As well, this presents the biggest threat to our responsibilities as a student. So that was my next search, something to tell me that binge watching would make me into a lazy, horrible student. I found an article on USA Today, where the main consensus was that TV binge watching is a harmless addiction. Kate Snow from NBC said that,“Experts say TV binging is a lot like other pleasure activities like eating or drinking or sex.” Well then. It is not going to make us lazy, just fat. And yes those two probably go together, but they do not have to. Forget working out every day to justify the two beers and wings you just ate. I am hitting the elliptical so I can watch four episodes of The Blacklist.

Maybe I am taking this too lightly, or maybe I am making this into a bigger deal than it is. But what it comes down to is that watching TV is just like every other activity you partake in. A little is fine, but too much can affect your studies. But it doesn’t have to. I wouldn’t write an article to college students telling them not to go to parties every week, so neither am I going to say don’t watch that show. Instead, I will say: go to class, eat well, study, and watch responsibly. All night long.

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