I kinda loathe binge-watching TV, but Stranger Things 4 is a different kind of show. I watched it as fast as I could to avoid spoilers and because I knew I'd be writing about it this week, I was micro-managing my time, measuring how long episodes were against my personal obligations.
And then, just as I thought I was going to be able to go to bed, Stranger Things 4 pulled a move that reinforced why it's one of the best Netflix shows, and also yanked me down onto my sofa. Trapped in a trance almost similar to the ones that haunt the kids of Hawkins this season, I was forced to change my schedule.
Why am I making such a big deal out of this? Well, it's because sleep is a very important thing to me. I check my sleep tracker app in my Apple Watch every morning when I think I had a chance to get close to seven or eight hours. And because of a certain episode of Stranger Things season 4, I wasn't able to hit that mark on Saturday night.
I wasn't ready for Stranger Things 4 episode 6
To say that I had no idea what was coming in the closing act of Stranger Things 4 volume 1 penultimate episode sounds naïve, but it's true. Again, no spoilers or anything here, but the stuff that happens to the kids of Hawkins in those closing scenes hit me at exactly the wrong time: 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday night.
Tired from a full day of living (and watching six of the seven episodes of Stranger Things 4), I was faced with a dilemma. Watch episode seven because I needed to see what happened next, or try and go to bed and deal with the likely insomnia of my brain wondering "what if?"
And, so, I hit Play, and found myself finishing Stranger Things volume 1 at a little after 1 a.m., well after I'd wanted to be asleep.
So, my big advice: Don't watch Stranger Things season 4 episode 6 (or even get close to the halfway point in the episode) unless you want to be awake for another 98 minutes.
And, one more thing: if you think you might have nightmares from the scarier scenes of Stranger Things? Definitely don't watch that episode right before you go to bed.
Analysis: Stranger Things 4 should have been a weekly show
Yes, that would have made this problem worse: you'd have to wait a whole week between episodes. But let's be honest, trying to shotgun-chug 9 hours of TV as fast as possible is not great either. It was my decision to make, sure, but one I feel a pressure to choose when spoilers are out there on the internet.
Were Stranger Things a weekly release, we'd just have a single episode to manage per week. No chance to jump ahead. No reason to be concerned about what we might learn accidentally online. And then we could watch those new episodes first thing in the morning, or during prime time.
I know Netflix loves a good binge-watch, but I'd like to suggest that we've moved past that point.