Relationship Battles | Deciding What to Binge Watch

A series of negotiations and compromises that, if lucky, result in mutual happiness? Sounds like a pretty good metaphor for relationships in general.

Paul Tamburroby Paul Tamburro
Photo: mauro_grigollo (Getty Images).

There comes a time during every relationship where you’re what feels like 58 seasons into Vampire Diaries and, in a moment of profound clarity, you ask yourself: “Is this really worth it?” Though you may love your significant other, during this moment you find yourself compiling a checklist of things you’d rather be doing with your life, and you find that the answer is “literally anything else.”

While my girlfriend and I have certain tastes that converge, when it comes to TV shows to binge watch, we have contrasting opinions on what qualifies as suitable entertainment. For instance, she can happily sit down and watch hours upon hours of medical shows, whereas I don’t find much joy in watching a woman undergoing a breast augmentation while I’m eating my dinner. Last year, she got really into House, and since that show concluded in 2012, she had a whole eight seasons to get through, which she achieved roughly within the space of one month.

I watched the majority of those episodes with her, but I must have mentally clocked out at some point because, for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you what actually happens in House. I vaguely remember that each episode follows roughly the same pattern:

Attractive, young medical professional: “Man, I’m really struggling to figure out what is wrong with this patient of mine.”

House: “Here, doofus, inject this drug into his eyeballs, you moron.”

Attractive, young medical professional: “That seems like a highly unorthodox approach, House. I was just going to follow the rules and give them-”

House: “-rules are for imbeciles, you imbecile. Here, idiot, I’ve already injected his eyes when you weren’t looking. He’s now completely cured, d*ckhead.”

Other attractive, young medical professional: “Wow, House, you really are less stupid than us losers!”

House: *Limps away arrogantly*

I also remember there was one episode that featured virtual reality, and I spent it explaining to Soph the various examples of how its portrayal of the technology was inaccurate. She looked at me with cold, dead eyes every time I interjected with another inane little fact, as my dull VR knowledge slowly sent her into what could best be described as a catatonic state triggered by sheer boredom. We eventually stopped watching House together.

Also: Deciding on Dinner | The Ongoing Food War With My Girlfriend

Soph takes comfort in re-watching shows and films that she already knows she enjoys, which greatly minimizes the risk of her watching something that she won’t like. But it also means that I’ve watched Guardians of the Galaxy nine times. However, there are a few examples of when she’s watched a show that she dislikes, but she perseveres regardless, for reasons I’ve never quite understood. For instance, she recently decided to waste both of our time by becoming emotionally invested in Iron Fist, a show centered on a man gifted with super martial arts powers but who is demonstrably terrible at fighting.

Despite the show’s awful fight scenes and a protagonist who could have been replaced with a cardboard box midway through the season without notice, for a solid week we spent every night watching a couple of episodes for no discernible reason. This was a dark period of both of our lives, as we’d finish work and then religiously sit down to watch the floppy-haired charisma vacuum stumble his way through clumsily choreographed fight scenes, neither of us quite sure why we were doing it to ourselves.

Why did we persevere and continue to watch Iron Fist? It’s probably as a result of it being so difficult to actually decide on what to watch, despite having access to basically every streaming service that’s ever existed. A typical evening consists of attempting to choose something to watch over dinner, before idly scrolling through an endless list of shows that neither of us can agree upon, then settling on something we’ve already watched. There have been a few shows that have passed the binge-watching test — we both belatedly got really into The Wire, we enjoyed The Walking Dead before it threw itself off a cliff, and we conveniently but sincerely loved the first two seasons of Catastrophe. Unfortunately, most other shows we binge watch together are typically a result of one party really enjoying it, while the other is ambivalent enough about it that they won’t leave the room.

This endless pursuit to binge watch something that we both enjoy serves as a pretty good metaphor for relationships in general. One person takes a vested interested in something — be it sports, cars, video games, or another hobby — and then their significant other puts up with that hobby in the knowledge that doing so will make their partner happy. Ultimately, isn’t that what love is: liking someone enough to make a series of compromises you wouldn’t make for anyone else, in order to make both of your lives a little easier?

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