As I write this, I am cruising through the chute of my holiday marathon, having successfully completed 120 episodes of the TV show "How I Met Your Mother." Arms raised in achievement, waving my remote in victory, I am exhausted, exhilarated and totally saturated in the six-season, New York City lives of my new BFFs, Ted, Marshall, Robin, Lily and that scoundrel Barney.
I know that as a mom, I'm supposed to view TV as a menace since it's been blamed for everything from childhood obesity to low test scores. Yet I am only slightly guilt-ridden as I send my kids back to school. I'm a firm believer that in this go-go-go, pressure-filled life, some days you just need to stay in your pajamas and eat tortilla chips for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
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We don't watch TV regularly as a family. With the exception of "Glee," "Modern Family" and a brief guilty pleasure period that involved "The X Factor," we don't really watch any shows on a weekly basis. We didn't even have a TV in our living room until about a year ago, when we broke down and bought a Wii so we could play "Just Dance." My kids play sports, run around the neighborhood all the time and get good grades.
We are the least likely candidates to become TV marathon runners. Or are we?
Running a TV marathon is beyond couch potato. I've found that it taps into an addictive, obsessive character trait that verges on good ole American competitiveness. My husband, who gets violently angry now when he hears the theme song to "How I Met Your Mother," is missing this gene. His lack of cooperation makes me realize that the world is divided into two types: Those of us who can't wait for Discovery Channel's Shark Week every summer and the rest of those sunburned schmucks who'd rather go outside and risk becoming near year's highlight.
I know I am not alone on my TV marathon runs. Last week, the New York Daily News ran a story about all the TV marathons available (63) over New Year's weekend, including back-to-back, all-day episodes of "CSI," "House Hunters International," "The Waltons," "$100,000 Pyramid," "The Twilight Zone," "iCarly," "The Three Stooges," "The Sopranos" and "Absolutely Fabulous."
"Portlandia," a short-based comedy series on the Independent Film Channel, has an episode about a "Battlestar Galactica" marathon during which the two main characters, Doug and Claire, lose a job, contract a bladder infection and forgo paying the power bill over their week-long TV obsession.
There's even a Wikipedia entry for "marathon (television)" now.
With repeats filling the TV sked, vacation days to burn and a need to bond (or break) from relatives, TV marathons have become synonymous with the holidays. I don't see a big difference between this and when my brother and I would wake up to resume our days-long Monopoly, Clue or Pong tournaments during our Christmas breaks as kids.
Netflix has kindly perfected the art of TV marathoning, neatly packaging shows together, sans commercials, reducing per-episode watch times by seconds. This holiday, we got down to just three clicks of the remote to access a new show, improving our PR (personal record) for viewing time.
My girls and I have marathoned through "Ugly Betty," "Top Chef," "My Name is Earl," "America's Next Top Model" and "Castle." This past week, I rationalized away the slightly inappropriate content on "How I Met Your Mother" as suitable training for my tween daughters to avoid dogs like Neil Patrick Harris' character, Barney Stinson. (The Bro Code has been broken.)
What TV shows did you marathon over the holidays?