10/04/2013 02:51 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Binge-Watching: The New Addiction of Empty Nesters


Q: I find that I suddenly have some time on my hands. What are some good films that have come out in the last 19 years that I might have missed while I was parenting?

A: Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you are a little out of the loop. Nobody watches films anymore. Episodes are the way to go. The first mandatory assignment is to make sure you're up to date on House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, The Newsroom and, of course, two seasons of Homeland. Then you can advance to four seasons of Breaking Bad. And you might have to pull a month of all-nighters to catch up on seven seasons of Mad Men, but it will be worth it to be able to once again converse with your peers about something other than carpool rules. I suggest avoiding all dinner parties until you've completed these prerequisites.

Q: So, you're saying that most parents of new college students are spending all their time screening full seasons of missed TV shows at a time when they're supposed to be rekindling romance and traveling the world?

A: Empty nesters do not need travel or romance. They are just happy to sleep through the night. When they had teens at home, they were so exhausted from waiting up that they were unable to stay awake through a single episode of an hour-long drama. Now they have the stamina to screen an entire season at one screening. Makes them feel young.

Q: What if I become so immersed in TV reruns that I become shallow and boring?

A: If you've spent the last two decades parenting, it's a little late for that. Complaining about your kids' teachers and coaches and angsting about ACT scores has already made most parents insufferably dull. Just a few hours of binge-watching can reverse that condition and, after 13 episodes, you might even become socially presentable again.

Q: I would love to watch all these shows, but now that my child is away at college, there is nobody around to help me work my Tivo, stream Netflix or hook up Hulu to my TV.

A; This will give you an excuse to stay in touch with your college students. You can text them for addiction-related tech support. And, unlike when they were living at home, you will always be able to locate the remote.