When Slate intern Jim Pagels wrote last week that "TV binge-watching is a pandemic" that ruins "the integrity of the art form," condemnation rained down from some of the mightiest media outlets in the land. How dare he! We are, after all "in an oft-noted 'new golden age of television,'" writes Meaghan Daum of the LA Times, and thanks to new technology we're not at the mercy of TV schedules. "We can give TV our undivided attention on our own terms."
Weekly, episodic viewing has its charms, too. "We all know that. So why, other than his slightly sanctimonious tone, did Pagels touch such a nerve?" The answer: "Binge watching is code." You don't brag about binge-watching Jersey Shore—binges are for highbrow stuff. "It distinguishes its practitioners (at least in their own minds) from the casual, passive viewer and turns TV watching into an act of agency, like reading a Russian novel," Daum asserts. Suddenly, "prolonged couch potato-dom" is transformed into "a badge of honor." Click for Daum's full column.