I finished three big projects recently, and my brain is, well, fried. So, since I can't go on a nature vacation just now (and, anyway,  my idea of a nature vacation includes a nice lodge with a spa) I am turning to television to let my brain rest. Sorry, Joseph Pieper. I accepted the gracious invitation--enticement--of NBC to binge watch Aquarius, staring David Duchovny. This may be a modified binge watch--I go through two or three of the thirteen eipsodes a night. But it is strangely enjoyable.

The question is, why?  Is binge watching really like binge eating; is hitting "play" on episode after episode really like putting potato chip after potato chip in your mouth, without being really hungry? Is it gluttony of a sort? Or is it something else? 

I started binge watching (although they didn't call it that) about six years ago when I was still in South Bend. I fell down the stairs, broke my ankle and needed surgery, and lots of rehab. So I spent about four weeks on the couch with my foot above my heart. It's hard to work in that position. It's hard to read too; and the painkillers made it hard for me to focus. So, I turned on the tv--and found a USA marathon of NCIS--and got hooked despite myself.  So hooked that after a couple of weeks I went out and bought all seven seasons on dvd (remember them?) to avoid the pesky commercials. 

I was escaping into a world that wasn't bounded by my couch and my own physical limitations, and the pervasiveness of that world--episode after episode--helped me  forget about what I couldn't do anything about anyway.  Now, watching Aquarius isn't the same thing--my ankle is mended, thank God.  But it is a good way to push the narrow focused attention which is necessary (at least for me) to finish a big reading and writing project out of my brain.  And make room for something new.  

Does anyone else binge watch? What and why?

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.

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