When watching classic box sets you should always go it alone

You might think you want someone to hang around the metaphorical watercooler with but you really don’t, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

Box sets are a brilliant invention. Watercooler TV has its time and place, but nothing beats having complete series –episodes of beloved old favourites, untouched award-winners or those cult classics you’ve been meaning to watch for years – at the press or click of a button.


Whether you’re wading through stacks of DVDs or letting your on-demand service roll on and on and on – we are always still watching, Netflix – there’s something incredibly indulgent about not having to wait a week for your next instalment. And even more so about reaching the end of a season and just getting to move straight on to the next.

Forget cliffhangers and eager anticipation. When you’re watching classic box sets, there’ll be no nine months wondering whether Jon Snow is really dead.

It’s freedom. You’re a maverick telly-watcher. You don’t even look at the schedules – and you couldn’t care less that everyone else watched your current favourite in 1998. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want, for as long as you want.

And there’s only one thing that ruins it: other people.

You might think you want to share your box set with a fellow human being. It’s only natural; we are a sociable species. And there is something startlingly lonely about raising your head at the end of Dawson’s Creek or after THAT moment in Breaking Bad and having no one (aside from the cat) to shriek to.

You might think you want someone to hang around the metaphorical watercooler with. But really you don’t. Having a whole evening stretching out ahead of you, but not being able to catch up with Carrie Bradshaw and co because the person you are watching Sex and the City with has plans is a unique agony.

You’ll start to resent your once beloved chum. You’ll find yourself watching episodes in secret, and then re-watching them when your box set buddy is around, feigning shock and surprise. You’ll be living a double life before you can say Prime Instant Video.

It might not involve gold bands or be officially recognised in a court of law, but once you’ve made a box set commitment there’s no going back. Which is why is better to go it alone. 


Keep it simple: just you and Carrie.

I hated multi-screening…until I started watching Game of Thrones

Cancel on your friends, lie to your boyfriend… do whatever it takes to keep up with event TV

Watching TV on demand is a lonely business