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Is binge-watching TV the best or worst way to catch up on your favorite programs?

A man watches TV wearing Homer Simpson slippers on February 1, 2008.
A man watches TV wearing Homer Simpson slippers on February 1, 2008.
Stephen Bowler/flickr/cc

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The Internet has revolutionized how people watch TV. No longer are consumers beholden to the whims of networks and the rigid structures of calendars and airtimes. Americans now watch TV on their computers, smart phones and on their living room sets — and they watch their favorite shows when they want to watch them.

Television is now largely an on-demand medium and that has lead TV junkies to develop some interesting viewing habits. One of these newer practices is the rise of “binge-watching,” which occurs when a viewer might consume many hours of a particular program in one sitting, one episode after the other.

Proponents of binge-watching say, for example, that viewing the entire 3rd season of AMC’s “Breaking Bad” in a weekend allows viewers to be totally immersed in the universe of the show. But there is also a rising chorus of those who believe that the serial nature of television programming dictates that a TV show must be best appreciated with days between episodes to properly digest, mull and discuss the many plotlines, characters and subtle details involved in the story arc of a season.


Are you guilty of watching entire seasons of “The Wire” in a week? How do you think TV shows are best appreciated – in one fell swoop or spread out over days?


Jim Pagels, Slate contributor and author of the article “Stop Binge-Watching TV”

Mary H.K. Choi, columnist for Wired magazine, editor at MTV style, comic book creator at Marvel and Vertigo and author of the article “In Praise of Binge TV Consumption”