Published on February 18th, 2014 | by Josh Hafner

How many episodes is a binge? (Plus: TV drink pairings!)

The season two release last Friday of “House of Cards,” the Netflix original series about seedy D.C. insiders, prompted untold thousands of fans to spend their Valentine’s Day falling in love again with the nefarious Rep. Francis Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey.

It also prompted a discussion on just what constitutes “binge watching.”

More than 1 in 6 Netflix users watched a “House of Cards” episode within 24 hours of the entire second season debuting last Friday, Forbes reported. Many in Iowa and elsewhere watched more than that, diving into multi-episode marathons we now know as “binge-watching”. It’s basically the new American pastime. Even President Obama ordered up a round of HBO dramas to watch over the weekend, per the New York Times.

Searching Twitter for Des Moines-area tweets yielded the following posts from over the weekend:




Mass-binging around the series prompted the Atlantic to ask yesterday: How do we define binge-watching, exactly, anyway? The Oxford English Dictionary defined it as viewing “multiple episodes of a television programme in rapid succession.”

Juice reader Jessie Leonard drew the binge line at 5 episodes, regardless of a show’s length.


Atlantic writer Nolan Feeney offered something more specific: “to watch at least four episodes of a television program, typically a drama, in one sitting (bathroom breaks and quick kitchen snack runs excepted) through an on-demand service or DVDs, often at the expense of other perceived responsibilities in a way that can cause guilt.”

Four or more episodes, paired with a bit of guilt, seems like the right number for binge-watching. Four or more drinks in roughly two hours qualities as binge-drinking for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Make that five drinks in two hours for men.


Here at Juice Magazine, we don’t endorse binging on anything (except our weekend photo galleries). Even so, watching Frank Underwood navigate D.C. cocktail parties got us thinking …

What drinks would pair best with our favorite shows? Below are a few suggestions:

“House of Cards”: In Season 1, fictional reporter Zoe Barnes is seen sipping some sort of red wine in her crummy apartment. On a reporter’s salary, we’re almost certain Barnes is drinking a 2012 Yellow Tail Pinot Noir.

“Mad Men”: Whether you’re joining Don Draper as he downs a midday drink at the office or over late night cocktails as he tries to suppress dark secrets, the answer here is an Old Fashioned: whiskey, bitters, sugar and water.

“Game of Thrones”: Conveniently for this post, HBO and the New Y0rk brewery Ommegang are collaborating on a series of beers inspired by popular fantasy series. Its Take the Black Stout is complex and dark, Ommegang notes, “like those have sword the oath to defend Westeros against threats from the north.” Whatever, drunk nerds.

“Breaking Bad”: A show about guys cooking blue meth requires an azure drink like Blue CuracaoYou know it’s good, because it’s blue.

About the Author

covers young professionals for The Des Moines Register. Josh can be reached at or on Twitter via @joshhafner.

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