I have emerged victorious from my weekend of binge-watching the Netflix series Orange is the New Black.
This is not a review rife with spoilers or an ode to a strong and diverse female cast or the continuation of my theory that all fictitious lesbian couplings consist of a blonde and a brunette.
This is, however, a guide on how to survive marathoning an entire season of a television show without hurting yourself or compromising your personal hygiene (too much).
Busted. Before you set out on a binge, make sure it’s worth it. Choose from the Class A Felonies of television, like Oz, Game of Thrones and House of Cards. Do not get mixed up in misdemeanors like The George Lopez Show or Freaks and Geeks. If you are going to do the time, might as well commit a crime that will earn you respect from your fellow inmates.
Central booking. After you make your one phone call, text or status update announcing that you’ve been detained by a television show, change into an outfit that is as comfortable as it is embarrassing to wear in public. Collect all of the items that you use on a daily basis – electronics, chargers, eye drops, etc. – and keep them near you at all times, so you never have to waste precious binge-time with a frantic search for your eyeglasses.
Cafeteria food. Make like a character on The Walking Dead and ransack your kitchen for snacks that do not require refrigeration. Protein bars, chips and cookies are great choices. Beverages are also essential, but not in excess. Liquids only lead to unscheduled bathroom breaks. If you know a binge is coming, be sure to stock up your commissary with these types of items, otherwise your dinner will most likely consist of a hummus and cereal sandwich.
Prison wife. A partner in crime could be fun if and only if they are as committed as you are. Don’t choose a cellmate that (a.) has somewhere to be (b.) does not suffer from F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out) and (c.) is uncomfortable with forfeiting a shower. It is also greatly helpful if they are very, very attractive.
Drop the soap. I’m not going to skirt around the truth. You won’t be able to take a normal shower. You may opt not to take a shower at all. And that’s okay. Consider the shower your reward when the binge is over. In the meantime, to curb your grossness, retouch your deodorant and/or wipe down with a moist towelette. Oh, and your bathroom breaks should only happen at the beginning of every episode while the credits are rolling, this way you don’t waste too much time pausing in the middle of the show. Regardless of when you take nature’s call, you must do it with the door open to hear what you are missing.
The yard. Be sure to stretch every once in a while to avoid dizziness and weird headaches. All stretches should be done in a way that does not interrupt your direct view of the screen.
Release. Upon completion of your binge goal, you will experience a sense of accomplishment and immense pride. After getting cleaned up and burning the clothes you’ve been wearing for two days straight, you will undoubtedly want to celebrate your freedom in the company of friends with a real meal and a tall, glass of something cold. However, if you think you will be able to discuss the show you saw with your posse, think again. There will inevitably be someone who hasn’t finished and/or seen the show and doesn’t want you to ruin it for them.
Life on the outside. It’s only a matter of time before you re-offend. A new show piques your interest. Another serial binger coaxes you into murdering a season of Lost. But you cannot be a gangster if your Netflix subscription has expired or your On Demand privileges are paused. There is nothing worse than delaying your start or – gasp – being cut off in the middle of a binge. Otherwise, you may find yourself screaming at your Playstation, like a prisoner in the SHU yelling through a vent.