By Hannah Berman
Until recently, the term “binge” was almost always associated with food. “Binging” was used to describe the act of mindless overeating. This is no longer the case. Now we know that there is something called “binge watching.” This binging generally means that one is fixated on a screen, any screen! It may be a television screen, a cellphone screen, a computer screen, or an iPad screen. And it appears to be due to the hugely successful Netflix and Amazon Prime, both of which bring to the public amazing entertainment in the form of movies and TV series.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Shtisel, and Srugim are a very small sampling of what I am referring to. There are hundreds, possibly thousands, more programs. These are just three of the many that I have recently binge-watched. I made it a priority to get Netflix and Amazon Prime in order to watch these. The reason I did this was because wherever I went, the conversation was often about these programs. In short order, I got hooked. There have been times when I have sat in front of my television screen until 2 a.m. because I just had to see the next installment. Now and then my willpower kicked in and, on those occasions, I managed to turn off the television and stop watching. I did this out of a desire to “save” the viewing of future episodes and thereby prolong my enjoyment. The same thing sometimes happens when I’m reading a great book and don’t want it to end. To savor the story and prolong the joy of reading it, I close the book and stop reading. But to the best of my knowledge, nobody ever referred to excessive reading as “binge reading.”
Binge watching is entirely different. When I do find the aforementioned willpower, I reluctantly turn off the television, sadly watch the screen go dark, and go to bed for the night. This is not as easy as it sounds and it doesn’t happen often, as my willpower is in short supply. So addicted am I to some of these programs that one of them—a series which featured two seasons with twelve episodes in each—was not enough for me. I shamefully admit that I went back to watch the first few episodes of season one and the final episode of season two again.
It has gotten out of hand and I may well be out of control. There was a time when, if asked, I would have said that I would love to meet Moshe Rabbeinu, Golda Meir, Winston Churchill, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. That being impossible, I would then answer that I would like to meet current real-life heroes or people in government. But my priorities have shifted dramatically. Now, if given the chance, I would love to meet some of the performers in the programs I have watched.
It doesn’t escape my notice that this is ridiculous, that these people are not real but merely actors who have studied a script. But that knowledge does not change my mind. With enthusiasm and joy, I watched them perform, and I would love to see and hear them in real life. Chances are that I would be deeply disappointed, but that’s what happens when one binge-watches a program. That’s just the way it is.
Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and gives private small-group lessons in mah-jongg and canasta. She can be reached at Savtahannah@aol.com or 516-295-4435.