Too often the joys of binge watching are only attributed to two types of people; those who are embracing a moment of solitary extreme laziness, or who are watching the new entire season of the newest thing RIGHT NOW AND TO THE EXCLUSION OF ALL OTHERS so as to talk to their friends about it.
Recently I’ve discovered a third type of binge watcher – the breastfeeder. Having acquired a reason to join this club at the end of last year, my new little darling and I have needed to do a lot of sitting down over the last few months. Usually 20-40 minutes, usually every three hours – every, single, day. It’s been going on like that for nearly three months now, and if I follow the World Health Organisation’s recommendations, it will continue for at least that amount of time again.
I know people breastfed before on demand television, but having whole series at the touch of a button is really handy. Sure, I could get out my DVD box sets, but juggling the box, the remotes and the disc itself is difficult before you infant develops proper neck control.
So far my baby girl and I have made our way through The Good Place, Dear White People, Grace and Frankie, SMILF and all of the old series of Will and Grace. Of course, we’re doing the new season too, but that’s for the shorter top-up feeds or ‘snacks’. If she needs a little after dinner snuggle (ie- has gone to sleep on me and I’m too scared to move in case I wake her up and we have to start again) I also dip in and out of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and The Last Leg. My laughter sometimes disturbs her though, so I have to keep an eye on that. I tried current affairs instead, but my sobbing also gets her attention.
A keen screen bean might suggest making it through the on-demand movies list as well, but I tried this only once before being reminded (again) about why television is so fantastic. If you’re working on a three-hour cycle, 90-120 mins of a film is just too much to commit. All that time with the one-story line, then it ends. Plus, there’s no easy spot where you can pause and come back after a few minutes. Commercial television – your segments work beautifully between burbs and trips to the nappy changing station.
It’s no secret that I’ve always loved television, but during this new phase of my life I’ve deepened my affection again. At 3am when the rest of the world is sleeping (and I so desperately would like to be too), the box gives me and my little one a way to pass time. This is really important given how a three-hourly routine can otherwise sometimes feel like an endless circle. Now if only I could get the TV to also scratch that spot on my leg that I can’t reach without disturbing the baby.
Dr Liz Giuffre is a lecturer and researcher in Media, Music and Cultural Studies at University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. Her work focuses on music and television in particular, including audience studies, fandom, cultural history and cultural industries in transition.