Netflix has changed the way we watch television.
“Binge-watching,” an activity once limited to the occasional Friends Marathon on Nick at Nite, is a cultural phenomenon that has completely changed the way we consume entertainment and information.
I swore that I would pace myself on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, only to plow through it in one weekend. I’ve gained a skill (or bad habit, if you ask my mom) to sit through hours and hours of How I Met Your Mother at one time and not lose interest or convince myself that I should do something productive instead. I’ve found myself rather impatient that I have to watch The Bachelorette “the old-fashioned way.”
The power of the Binge Watch is such that I’ve been calling my Netflix journey through Grey’s Anatomy a “summer project.” As I've plowed through episode upon episode, I've made a few important observations.
[Warning: If you’re in your own Grey’s Anatomy binge but haven’t hit Season 8 yet, there be spoilers ahead.]
You Get Ridiculously Emotionally Connected to the Characters
People who watched Grey’s Anatomy when it first aired would spend one very invested hour watching Miranda Bailey chastise her interns, and then they’d go about their everyday lives for an entire week before the next episode.
The binge-watchers are on an emotional rollercoaster where one minute the interns are fighting to scrub in, and suddenly, they’re third-year residents.
You Notice How Tragedy-Prone Seattle Grace Hospital Is
When you condense half of a season into one afternoon, you see just how many risky situations seem to take place on the show. In one weekend, Izzie was diagnosed with a second tumor, George died, and Meredith was donating part of her liver to her father. I’m watching Derek get shot at, and a few hours later Callie is going through a windshield.
No wonder their rankings as a teaching hospital went down - everyone and their significant other is having a crisis every week.
You Become Immune to the Charms of Mark Sloan
Oh, Mark Sloan - you delicious bastard, with your womanizing ways. Sleeping with a rotating cast of women every week is a lot. Sleeping with a rotating cast of women in one afternoon is just exhausting.
Every once in awhile, excellent lighting and a good camera angle will catch you off-guard and you’ll appreciate the dastardly good looks of Dr. Sloan - but the power of the binge-watch has alerted you to the more respectable male characters. (So you focus on the piercing blue eyes of Dr. Avery and the gingery charms of Dr. Hunt.)
You Feel Like You Can Throw Medical Jargon into Conversation
True story: I used the term “running whip stitch” in a real life conversation last week.
You know what a Whipple is and when it’s used. You have the urge to yell “Get a crash cart!” when your microwave beeps. Things you learned in high school anatomy class start to come back to you.
You know your Grey’s Anatomy binge-watch is next level when you start to believe you might be able to skip a year of med school just by watching it.
You Start to Dream About Seattle Grace
Sometimes it’s a good dream, like Dr. Owen Hunt saving your life and falling in love with you. Sometimes it’s a nightmare, like Dr. Owen Hunt trying to strangle you in a PTSD fervor. Mostly, it’s stressful dreams where Dr. Ellis Grey is chastising you for every life decision you’ve ever made.
You Know What’s Coming
I had pictures of bald, cancer-ridden Izzie burned in my brain before episode one. I’ve heard rumors that there’s a plane crash, and I know who won’t survive. Thanks to the entire internet, I know about Derek.
This is both a blessing and a curse. It made the shooting episode a little less intense, because I knew Derek would live to see several more seasons. But it’s also emotionally exhausting to carry that sense of foreboding with you everywhere you go.
You’re Dreading The End
Binge-watching a show is a lot like a whirlwind romance. You practically live with these characters - and some are ripped away from you while others continue to burrow their way into your heart. You spend hours of your day laughing and crying with them. And then it’s over.
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