Tweedledee: To Binge or Not to Binge

Lena Welch ‘20
New Media Editor

When Netflix started releasing the Great British Bake-Off[1] an episode at a time, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. But I don’t have to be happy about it.

Binge-watching is among the things I do best in the world. I truly excel. I watched season three of Stranger Things three times (plus a re-watch of seasons one and two) in the time it took my friend to watch just the third season.[2] Essentially, I have a specific type of willpower that doesn’t allow me to prevent myself from watching television but does allow me to consume a massive amount in a single sitting. 

Which brings me to GBBO. This show is my life force. It appeals to me on multiple levels. The easiest level to identify is as a baker. I live for the flavor combinations and methods. Since watching, I have tried my hand at genoise cakes, laminated pastries, breads, and choux pastries—to varying degrees of success, of course.[3]

Lena has an agonizing week-long wait to see a new episode. Photo credit Mark Bourdillon.

Lena has an agonizing week-long wait to see a new episode. Photo credit Mark Bourdillon.

The show also appeals to me as a human being. The only other show that taps into my humanity in the same way is MasterChef Junior.[4] GBBO demonstrates some of the best parts of people—helping others even in the face of competition, creativity when following tradition is the easy way out, and quick-thinking problem-solving when things don’t go to plan.

Finally, it appeals to me as a law student with a sometimes unbelievable amount of stress. I turn to GBBO during these highly stressful times of my life, and I let the British summer, beautiful bakes, and soulful tone of Selasi’s voice wash over me. I fired it up the other day in response to my fellowship-application-clinic-case-start-of-school stress, and saw a notification that new episodes were coming. EPISODES. 

Well, I woke up at 3 a.m. last Friday to discover only one episode available and a new episode to come in each of the next nine weeks.[5] The outrage! What is this? Television?

Now, you may be saying, “Lena, I thought you were watching in response to stress.” And you’re right. For that reason, this is the best thing to happen to me. New bakers, new challenges, expanding the universe that I love, and in measured doses that better fit with school’s current demands on my time. But consuming the new season in one sitting and compromising other areas of my life was my mistake to make, Netflix! 

Michael Schmid ‘21
Production Editor

I may be in my twenties, but in many ways I feel adrift from the trends of my generation. I’m not on social media. I am currently reading an autobiography of Art Garfunkel.[6] The last movie I watched starred Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.[7] So, it might make sense to readers that I’ve never understood the appeal of bingeing a new show.

Lest you gain the impression that I am a complete contrarian, I would just like to state that I do, in fact, love many features of streaming services. Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime are near-ubiquitous fixtures in my apartment. How else can I watch the same episodes of the shows I’ve watched since high school over and over and over?[8] Being able to watch the same episode of The Office for the millionth time is a security blanket of unparalleled comfort. I enjoy streaming services so much that I constantly forget my apartment complex provides cable.[9] But for all of the positives of Netflix, releasing an entire season all at once isn’t one of them.

Watching newly released content is much more enjoyable when it is released incrementally. The first reason is my own impatience. It already takes forever to wait for a new season even when you don’t binge watch, but you have to wait even longer if you do. The second reason has to do with another shortcoming of mine—there is just no way I can focus on that many episodes in a short amount of time. Most likely, I’ll just fall asleep. So[10]—perhaps multiple times—and the Internet abounds with spoilers and hot takes. All this happens, most likely, before I even knew the new season was released.[11] Those who binged the new season have to avoid giving spoilers to their more methodical comrades who have not seen as many episodes. That means we all lose, both bingers and non-bingers alike.

The closest I came to bingeing an entire season was season three of Santa Clarita Diet. I blew through it at record pace[12] only to find that the much-awaited season four would never come to pass after Netflix unceremoniously cancelled the show.[13] The lesson I learned from that situation is clear: bingeing only leads to sadness.


[1] Also known as the Great British Baking Show to Americans, but I prefer to call it by its proper acronym (GBBO).

[2] A quick shout-out to my best friend who does not want me to reveal his identity but who recently watched Stranger Things. I had been feeling guilty for letting him go so long without watching it, so I am quite pleased that he is now a fan.

[3] As frequent recipients of their goodies, the Law Weekly staff is eternally grateful.

[4] If you’re not watching this show, you are making a mistake.

[5] The release corresponds with the release in the U.K., which is another reason why this is one of the best things to happen to me, but again, not happy. I’m a horrible, disgusting, spoiled, instant-gratification-seeking garbage person, and I want my show now!

[6] What Is It All but Luminous?, Knopf (2017).

[7] Charade (1963), directed by Stanley Donen.

[8] An episode of Psych that I’ve seen a million times is playing in the background as I write.

[9] But it’s standard def basic cable, so really what’s the point?

[11] See above: I don’t have social media.

[12] It was probably like one week, but… it’s all relative.

[13] Don’t even get me started on that decision…