Couch Potato: The Kit

For most of my childhood my parents didn’t allow cable TV in our house. As a kid, of course, this was the worst form of torture I could imagine. As pop culture marched steadily onwards, I feared, I’d fall further and further behind. Everyone would expect me to know things and I wouldn’t. My lack of coolness would compound, I’d be a dork forever, and I’d never, ever be able to catch up on it all.

Most of those things turned out to be true.

As an adult, however, this situation doesn’t seem all that upsetting. In fact, it only noticeably effects my life in two ways, as far as I can tell:

  1. Pop culture references to The Simpsons go straight over my head.
  2. I don’t always watch TV, but when I do, I go hard. Like, really hard.

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether or not you succeed in catching up; when it comes to TV consumption, it’s all about the journey. So today I pass the torch to you, kid. Below is a list I’ve compiled of everything you’ll need to maximize comfort and optimize performance in pursuit of the highest form of couch potato excellence: the TV marathon.

Comfy pants

1. Performance Wear

How many episodes are there in your series — 20? 200? Whatever the number, you’re in this for the long haul, so first and foremost you need to work on getting comfy. For me, this usually means ditching my pants and shoes at the door and getting into something with a stretchy waistband. Think pajama pants! Yoga pants! Boxers and a blanket in case your legs get cold!

You’re the expert on what feels good to you, so take off your bra and get in there. Actually, you can probably apply this advice to all situations in your life. (I mean, no pressure. I just want you to be comfortable. You look cute today.)


2. Equipment

Nowadays when we say we’re “watching TV,” a lot of the time this actually means we that have our eyeballs glued to our laptops. This is wonderful and convenient but if you really want to get serious, consider an upgrade to Chromecast. (Or Roku, if you have the cash and prefer a separate remote.) This nifty device puts the TV on your computer back on your TV. I got one for Christmas and it’s just the greatest thing. This year I feel a renewed enthusiasm for sitting on my ass. Technology is a magic.

Now once you’ve got your TV casting wizardry set up, I want you to take a hard look and identify any other less-than-optimal conditions in your environment. Are you craning your neck up at the tv? Is your lower back supported? Do you have something to hug in case something scary happens on the show? A lot of problems can be solved with a body pillow.

Also, if you wanna ball like the Countess of Grantham (hint: you do), you need a tray with legs. You may not have servants to bring you breakfast in bed, but you can count on your little leggy wonder to provide a stable surface for your TV remote, cell phone, laptop, drink and snacks. I mean, you can put these items on the floor or the couch cushions, of course, but don’t say I didn’t warn you when you get up to pee and knock everything over. You’re much better off investing in the tray.


3. Fuel

While you’re binging on TV, you might as well binge on something else too, right? If you don’t fuel your body you’re just going to fall asleep and be sad and hungry and stuff. This is not the behavior of a couch potato champion.

When it comes to food selection, potato chips are a classic choice here. Grapes are a healthy and tasty option. I like rice cakes, in moderation, and ice cream sundaes. Themed cocktails are always classy, in moderation or otherwise.

Again, it’s all about your personal preference, but comfort and familiarity are key. You want your attention on the TV, not the unusually slippery new stir fry mix that seems to anticipate your every move and run evasive maneuvers in the exact opposite direction of your chopsticks.

Laura loves these TV shows.

4. Game Plan

I’ve saved the best for last: choosing what you’re going to watch and who you’re going to watch it with. In my belief, there’s a TV show for every situation. You’re going to develop your own style here, but I’ve personally found great success with:

  • Orange Is The New Black – I watched this over the span of 1 week when my best friend from high school visited me last year. Entertaining multiple-night house guests can be really hard if you don’t have lots of money, so remember: TV is your friend.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation –  I binge watched this in college with my first boyfriend. And my second. I feel like if someone doesn’t get Jean-Luc Picard they’re probably not going to get me, you know?
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer – I watched this on DVD while falling in love with the girl I was watching with. We went for Buffy after powering through Gilmore Girls, and it was the best decision we possibly could have made. This show is everything.
  • Game of Thrones I’ve rewatched this series at least three times now, and I still can’t really tell all the middle aged grimy looking white guys apart. I guess it doesn’t matter that much, though, because they all keep killing each other off. Whatever. I’m in it for the Stark girls.
  • FireflyI watched this with a revolving cast of companions going in and out of the host’s dorm room. I went to RIT, where playing this show instantly attracted an interested crowd. Not sure I’d get the same reaction out here in the non-geek world.
  • House of Cards I watched this last summer on my parents’ couch while I was recovering from a gunshot wound. It was a really good distraction. 
  • Downton AbbeyLast year I watched this show all by myself one weekend when it was just too dreary outside to leave my house. Just putting it out there, there’s zero shame in solo marathoning.
  • Veronica Mars – I’m marathoning this show with my girlfriend right now and we just finished season two. This show is so dark! But good! I’m nervous and excited about what’s going to happen next season.

I could go on, but you get the drift. I watch a lot of TV and so can you. I believe in you.

So! Now that you’ve got your setup optimized, what are you watching? Can I come over? What kind of snacks do you want? Do you need me to bring another body pillow? It’s cool if I take these off, right?

Autostraddle Kits is a series where we tell you all the stuff you need to be/do a thing you want to be/do. Lesbian Activist? Heartbreaking DJ? Wanton Sex Goddess? Food Historian? Sort of like if Amazon’s Listmania and Amazon’s “So You’d Like to Be A…” had a same-sex marriage and then had a baby.

It’s like a playlist, but for all of your senses!

Got a request for a kit? ASS me!

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Laura Mandanas

Laura Mandanas is a Filipina American living in Boston. By day, she works as an industrial engineer. By night, she is beautiful and terrible as the morn, treacherous as the seas, stronger than the foundations of the Earth. All shall love her and despair. Follow her: @LauraMWrites.

Laura has written 210 articles for us.


  1. I cannot wait for the optimal time to be able to fully appreciate this kit. In my mind this hypothetical optimal time would be “after I submit my assessed essay due this Friday,” but realistically it will probably be “tomorrow.”

    Also, Grey’s Anatomy for all your soap opera needs ever.

    • Haha. The slayer is just so important! There’s one in every generation and two in every collage. ;)

  2. This is my life right now. I’ve been battling the flu for about a week so I decided to watch NCIS, which has 250+ episodes, from the beginning. Odd choice, I know. It was always something I could catch an episode of if it was on in the afternoon, but now that I’ve been watching it in order I’ve become really invested in the gharacters.

    I have to go back to work tomorrow and I’m only up to season 6, so there goes any free time for the next few weeks. I’m determined to catch up to the new episodes asap!

    • We did lost with a friend who would bring over the dvds and we’d watch til the wee small hours. She then left them at our house saying “I’m going to America for a month, don’t watch the last series without me”…most agonising month ever.

  3. My partner downloaded *all* of Sailor Moon with English subtitles for me. I also accidentally (on purpose) ordered enough Indian food for many many days. Marathon time! PS: Buffy and Gilmore Girls are the best. <3

  4. Battlestar is a must.

    And if you somehow find yourself wishing you knew what was up with all the Dr Who references on the interwebs have fun falling down that hole. I’m still tumbling my way through it and Torchwood to get to the most recent stuff but it’ll hook you!

    • In love with Vastra…In.Love. So so wrong…but the totally unashamed lesbian double entendre moment in Demons run just pulled me in.

  5. I marathoned both Battlestar Galactica and Buffy while I had Netflix during the summer (as well as OITNB, obviously) and I think both were excellent marathon choices.

    Firefly was the first show I ever watched as a marathon – I was off sick from secondary school for a couple of days and someone lent me the boxset so I could entertain myself/understand all the references my friends had been making to the show. I still love it.

    • I forgot to mention that i have this beanbag..and i would also put the small matress on the floor and pretend i had some sort of camp. Lol

  6. Not that I’m an expert (I’m an expert) but I suggest air pop popcorn and Ruffles potato chips & ranch dip. Besides the whole list, I’d also suggest Angel, Buffy’s Cordelia-starring spinoff.

  7. 1. Bob’s burgers is everything to me right now and is on a continuous marathon loop.
    2. Don’t trust the b in apartment 23. Sounds stupid, but krysten ritter is hot and witty and it’s on netflix.
    3. My girlfriend and I just marathoned The Following. So dark, so twisted, so infuriating and, yet, so good.

      • Not because I’m expecting it to be like the other two, but because I’m assuming you have good taste.

    • I thought I would hate #2, but watched it in a fit of Netflix desperation, and loved it. Who knew Dawson Leary could actually be appealing if cast as himself?

      • I know! He was the wild card of the show. You just never knew if his character was really going to work, but he parodied himself so well!

    • A resounding yes to all of this. The Following gives me so many feelings. And occasional nightmares in which I get stabbed.

      • This show has just solidified my trust issues. You cant trust anyone or anything because it’s probably just part of an elaborate plot to kill you.

  8. I’ve been marathoning the L word and “chasing” it with episodes of Portlandia (to keep me sane) over this extended Polar Vortex II weekend. Snacks included leftover Thai food, hummus, and brownie batter ice cream. You can come over if you want, but I probably have to go to work in the morning. My futon gets uncomfortable after a few hours, so bring a body pillow.

  9. Yes!!!! Downton Abbey is the bestest ever!!!! Also starting to rewatch ‘Revenge’ because it is awesome

  10. this is extremely relevant to my interests at the moment… also I am so so so very sorry about season three of veronica mars, I really am.

  11. I definitely recently finished marathoning Boy Meets World in honor of the new series about Cory and Topanga’s kids that’s coming out this summer. It’s still as hilarious now as it was when I was a kid.

    Also, I’m pretty sure I watched OITNB all in 24 hours? I don’t actually remember. This is probably not the healthiest way to do things, but I regret nothing.

  12. Missus and I are prolific Netflix/dvd box set marathoners. So much so that I struggle with waiting a week to watch shows currently airing. Big fan of multiple fleece blankets and heaps of cushions for sofa sprawling, 9million cups of tea and a packet of hobnobs or ginger nuts-now wondering why in England we name biscuits (cookies?) after male genitalia?
    I fear British Netflix is missing a fair amount of stuff you guys have but hey. Recently I’ve worked my way through: Bomb girls s1 (Netflix only has S1 and S2 isn’t out on British dvd aaaaaaghfhdhdbgsgh I shall grieve for Betty’s loss forever) Lost girl 1-3 in anticipation of 4, the L word (again) and I am now on Dollhouse because Eliza Dushku- C’mon who didn’t read Faith/Willow fanfic way back when? Buffy forever. Missus is a Xena fan but I don’t want to ruin the memories by re-watching. So many marathon feelings.

  13. I have a problem with winter binge-watching, and have watched every show on this list. I need to provide some others:
    1.) Justified. Cuz rednecks delivering wicked burns is fantastic to watch.
    2.) Bates Motel. OMFG best acting ever. The reprise of Psycho is way more interesting that anything American Horror Story has offered of late.
    3.) True Detective. Ever wanted to see what Matthew McCanna…crap, you know who I mean, dressed like a redneck right now to the handlebar mustache, hunting down horrific bad guys? This is the cop show for you. I still can’t get the last scene of episode three out of my head.
    4.) Masters of Sex. Amazing to see how far we’ve come in terms of sex ed. Suddenly abstinence ed doesn’t seem so backwards. Wait, yes it does.
    5.) Roseanne (to season 6). That show was my childhood. It’s not to revisit, and see how many risks that lady took.
    6.) Couples Therapy. Because it is the worst thing ever.

    • Agree with Bates Motel. I watching the first season over the course of 3 marathon nights. No regrets!

  14. Roomie & I are doing Once Upon a Time for all the amazing badass women (Granny & her crossbow!) and the amazing Robert Carlyle acting circles around everyone else.

  15. There are few things in the world that make me happier than marathon TV sessions.

    I’d like to toss the following suggestions into the ring:

    1- Being Human (UK version)
    2- Rome
    3- Torchwood
    4- Boardwalk Empire
    5- Shameless

    Interestingly, I feel like marathoning may be a bit of a queer phenomena. None of my straight friends are quite as into it as my gay lady friends and I seem to be. They’ve usually got a 3-4 episode max before they crap out, where as we’re all still ready for more. It’s an interesting thing that I’ve noticed on more than a few occasions.

  16. I loved marathoning Warehouse 13.It’s like hanging out with friends and family. Make sure you have access to season 4 before you finish season 3,though.
    Orphan Black tends to turn into a marathon, but it’s kind of necessary to take a break once in a while, cause it’s hard to wrap your head around everything that happens at once.
    When I broke up with my first girlfriend,”Alias” Season 2 kept me comfort for an entire weekend.Very good comfort.
    I strongly recommend Veronica Mars as well, and Pepa and Silvia (Pepsi) with English Subtitles. For your nerd needs,there’s always Babylon 5 :)

  17. OMG YES to all of this. So far in the past 12 months my girlfriend and I have marathoned:

    Game of Thrones
    Orange Is The New Black (3 times)
    All of Buffy (again)
    Walking Dead
    South of Nowhere (ugh)
    Breaking Bad

    …and are currently working our way through Dexter.

    My favourite ever show is Six Feet Under but I can’t yet convince my gf to watch it, apparently it’s “too bleak”. I’d like to point out all the other things we’ve watched and how they are all in their own way a little bleak.

    Next up I want to re-watch Breaking Bad, Mad Men and The Sopranos.

  18. The flu started kicking my ass this past weekend (and still is) so I decided to check out TWIN PEAKS because it’s on Netflix instant.

    Bad idea. Due to all the medication, I kept falling asleep throughout and waking up mid episode not knowing what the hell is going on.

    That damn theme music does stay in your head though. FOREVER.

  19. I’m really into British series on Netflix: Sherlock, Bletchley Circle, Call the Midwife…Also the first to seasons of American Horror Story are on Neflix, and y’all know how I feel about that!

  20. I feel like this is all I am doing whenever I am at home as of late because I live in Chicago and this weather really leaves no other option. Gilmore Girls is my forever favorite, but lately I’ve been watching The X-Files and Six Feet Under. I also recently binge-watched all of Party Down, but it’s only two seasons so I feel like it doesn’t really count?

    Because I never want to leave my cocoon of warm, I’ve found myself making dinner on the couch (peeling potatoes, grating cheese). It’s kind of messy, but you do stay warm and comfy.

  21. I feel inordinately proud that I’ve marathoned all of these shows except for House of Cards and Veronica Mars (too dark!), and House of Cards is going to start any day now.

  22. And I guess if I’m going to contribute to recommendations, I’ve marathoned a LOT of murder mystery shows, including Poirot and Foyle’s War, but right now I’m marathoning Columbo and have fallen head over heels for it! But the episodes are SO LONG. An hour and fifteen minutes each! Whew!

    Also something completely different: Merlin! I just got my brother hooked on it and it has been so much fun to share. :D

  23. This is my life. Especially on my rest days. Srsly. Especially that I don’t own a TV, my laptop is my BFF. Also, House Stark <3 <3 <3!

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