Damon Lindelof has an interesting way of describing binge-watching


The creator of Lost and The Leftovers thinks binge-watching is like eating an entire pizza, like that’s a bad thing.

Binge-watching is not new. Depending on how you date it, bingeing on television has been a thing for about five years now. Damon Lindelof, creator of Lost, is not a fan, as he recently told Esquire in anticipation of the third and (by choice) final season of his other critically-acclaimed show, The Leftovers. Lindelof has many interesting things to say about the binge watching phenomenon and how it changes the way writers and showrunners approach television that are well-worth reading, but he also offers a rather astute analogy involving pizza.

In making the case for why bingeing TV is bad, Lindelof compares the habit to eating an entire pizza.

"The pace in which you consume this is up to you, but just because there’s an entire pizza in front of you and you can eat it all, doesn’t mean that you should. Every time I’ve ever eaten the entire pizza, I’ve been filled with shame and regret. But if I stick some in the fridge for later and have it the next morning, I’m like, “I’m really glad that this pizza is still here.” Just because you want the next one now doesn’t mean that you should give it to yourself. Delayed gratification is a much richer gratification. That episode will be just as good tomorrow as it was five minutes after the episode that you just watched."

This is not wrong, but it’s also not a flawless reason not to binge watch. If anything, he proves the appeal of binge watching. Yes, there are shows – the deep dish pizzas of TV – that you will never enjoy bingeing. It falls to you to identify these and show both discretion and self-control when you watch them. Give them the second chance of segmented viewings and also don’t ruin the show by watching in a self-destructive way. Don’t eat the whole deep dish.

And yet, there are plenty of shows that are, in fact, well-suited for bingeing. Like a thin crust at an authentic Italian restaurant, they may even be intended for complete immediate consumption. Plus, the shame and regret is an inherent part of binge-watching. Bingeing shows how much you are enjoying something but it also means that you dedicated six to eight almost-consecutive hours of your life watching a show instead of doing any number of other things. A little shame and regret that you powered through another season instead of running errands is healthy.

As for the Domino’s pizzas of TV shows, well. That’s between you and your god.