Binge-watching TV Shows Might Actually Be Good for You
"Far from dulling the intellect, these shows create more suspense, interest and opportunities for critical engagement."
This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure
Binge-watching our favorite shows has been something we address in whispers. Somehow the agenda on those precious days off when the weather might be a bit gloomy or when you really just need a day to yourself with a few favorite fictional characters has become something to feel bad about. Well, don't.
A dig into the feeling of guilt that comes with binge-watching television has popped up on The Conversation. After giving it a read, you'll feel a little bit better about passing your afternoons (and nights) with your eyes glued to a screen.
The article brings up a great point: We plan entire nights around movie marathons — and we even invite friends! — and to call devouring a novel in one sitting binge-reading seems excessive. So why does binge-watching television get such a bad reputation?
The researcher behind this argument is Elizabeth Cohen, an assistant professor of communication at West Virginia University. "But binge viewing TV has become popular for a good reason: Despite its negative reputation, television has never been better," she write for The Conversation. "We are in the midst of a golden age of television, with a variety of shows that provide a steady diet of novel premises, long-running, elaborate plots and morally complicated characters. Far from dulling the intellect, these shows create more suspense, interest and opportunities for critical engagement."
If books can be celebrated as intellectual vehicles for thoughts and opinions, why can't television? No matter what your reason for binge-watching the latest series — an escape from a stressful day of work, general interest in the show topic, just a means to help you fall asleep — the content being created on television has never been better.
Cohen cites a 2014 study looking into the way watching media recharges those who find themselves overstressed. "Individuals who bought into the 'lazy couch potato' stereotype enjoyed fewer benefits from watching TV," Cohen writes. "Instead of feeling revitalized after watching TV, they felt guilty."
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So, in a very meta turn of events, we can thank the media's affiliation of binge-watching with laziness for our ill-fated guilt. Want to read more about Cohen's thoughts on the positive effects of binge-watching? Head on over to The Conversation.