Five Criteria for Badass TV Binging: Featuring Scorsese’s Vinyl

Posted on October 24, 2017, 9:00 am
10 mins


I’m pretty sure sitting in front of the TV to binge on shows—no matter what they have going for them—is not at all cool. But some of us like to know what’s going in the zeitgeist, and it is the season for cozying up inside and binging on a good TV show. There are ways to binge on TV and not feel like a listless lump afterwards, though. I have five criteria for Badass TV Binging.

These criteria can work for any show, but they make even more sense with a badass show. Martin Scorsese’s Vinyl is a perfectly badass match.

Binging On Scorsese’s Vinyl Is Worth The Investment

The glossy 70s: You kind of had to be there to understand how it so glamorously and wonderfully broke a generation with sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. Vinyl transports you to that time, that if you lived through it, feels like home.

Vinyl‘s main character and snake-in-the grass, Richie Finestra, is a man with an ear for hitmakers, and—like all Gen Xers—has a pile of daddy issues. With “I’ll show you, dad” gumption, he builds a record company and a fabulous life for himself, his family and his partners.

But when the show begins, the company is not doing as well as it once was. One of the most important men in radio is refusing to play their top artist, Donny Osmond. Finestra’s partners in the company want to get out while the getting is good, and they have an opportunity to sell, leaving everyone with a nice chunk of change. Finestra has been sober and living in a state of integrity with his gorgeous wife and two kids, and he promises to be a more committed family man when the company sells.

However, things take a turn when Finestra attempts to ensure that the company’s sale does indeed go through. A series of unfortunate events lead to his and everyone else’s unraveling.

While Madmen handled the advertising wolves, Vinyl showcases just how pimp-like the record industry was from the outset, with just as much style, drinking and smoking. As bad as these men were, they were so cool, making binging on Vinyl a last chance to experience anything culturally cool in the pure sense—now that “cool” is dead.

I know…but just really sit with that one. Cool is dead. Badassery is not. So, let’s binge like a badass before we all end up bland, pasty wads of flesh on the couch with no sex appeal or style.

Criteria Number One For Badass Binging: Workout

The morning of the binge, take a long brisk walk before you sit down. Load a step counter into your phone, or strap on your Fitbit and get 2-3 miles of walking in. The great thing is, you jump-start your metabolism and work out your back, preventing any body aches that may develop from prolonged sitting. You can also plan shorter walks around the block between episodes.

This summer, I bought a used set of dumbbells, a mat and a bench on Craigslist for under $150. I am now maintaining a strength training routine while binging on my favorite shows. There are countless strength training routines out there, and you may even have your own. Here’s mine, in case you need some inspiration. Whenever I have been off my routine for a while, I start with a low weight and increase it every two weeks. Do what’s right for you and your health level.

Arms and Shoulders
  • Biceps – Dumbbell arm curls (4 sets of 10)
  • Triceps – Dumbbell overhead extensions (4 sets of 10)
  • Deltoids – Military press extensions (4 sets of 10)
Legs and Glutes
  • Squats with dumbbells (4 sets of 10)
  • Lunges with dumbbells (4 sets of 10)
  • 20 Air bike crunches
  • 10 Knee crunches
  • 10 Reverse crunches

(As you improve, you can add ten crunches to each variation each week.)

  • Bent over row (4 sets of 10)
  • Pushups (as many as you can – 1? 5? 25?)

Of course, some of these don’t put you in a good position to watch the show while you’re doing them, so do those between episodes.

Criteria Number Two For Badass Binging: Consume Mindfully

The temptation to snack on junk food is especially high when binge watching a show. Let’s think this through: A binge goes on for hours, if not all day or weekend. It just takes a little planning ahead to not let the binge become a disgusting eating tragedy.

Here’s a list of things to consider:
  • Plan meals ahead of time and schedule break times to prepare food
  • Drink coffee, tea, or hot lemon water instead of eating
  • Use the binge as an opportunity to drink your daily three liters of water (measure ahead of time)
  • Get your vitamins and minerals with veggie snacks
  • Give yourself one thoughtful sweet treat with a hot drink at a designated time
  • Don’t drink soda or sugary drinks. Drink a La Croix instead! No fake sugar, and it tastes better than soda.

Criteria Number Three For Badass Binging: Learn Something

If it’s a good show like Vinyl, it will not just entertain, but also engage sociological and philosophical issues. For instance, in the case of Vinyl’s Richie Finestra, he’s both awful and a sympathetic character. He tries to do right, and when he doesn’t seem to be able to get it together, you’re still hoping he gets it together. The larger philosophical message is that the tiniest mustard seed of intention carries a huge bag of consequences.

Richie’s company is always suffering the consequences of his actions. Even the record company’s employees can’t come out from under Finestra’s past deeds. We see his mentor Maury as the one who led him down this wayward path, one that Finestra could never seem to get off of once he went down it.

The larger commentary seems to be that, even though in the short-term sense, these record execs look like dirtbags, they were the reason a machine existed in the music industry where artists got paid. But when you add it all up, they were pimps. They forced the artists they represented into a prostitution dynamic, and it has me questioning the deaths by overdose of so many musicians who were expected to just keep turning tricks to keep someone else in the money.

Criteria Number Four For Badass Binging: Multitask While Binging

There are a few things you can do while binging besides working out, although you might want to think through how you budget outside tasks into the viewing experience, considering that you won’t want to miss important visual moments. My list:

  • Organize closets or drawers
  • Dust
  • Groom
  • Write invites/thank you notes
  • Do your accounting and scheduling for the week
  • Pay bills

Criteria Number Five For Badass Binging: Throw a Binge Party

By making your binge a social event, you kill two birds with one stone. Many of us don’t have time to have active social lives, or we’re just too tired. Some of us are really bad at socializing at all. The binge event allows us to focus on something, eat, drink and be merry while getting some time in with a well-chosen group of friends, or maybe a one-on-one with someone we need to make time for.

It’s incredible how many literary and cultural references are layered into the modern series. Having friends who have a background in art, music and literature can be very instructive and fun, as they point out layers in the storyline. And if you have that background, you get to share the excitement of spotting it yourself.

After watching a show like Vinyl, it’s easy to see how there are worse things to binge on besides a TV series. With my Five Criteria for Badass Binging, there should be no shame in your game. Enjoy!






Sarah Caples has lived in Seattle since 2004 working as a fashion stylist for private clients. Sarah launched an art and society blog in 2008, along with a monthly salon at The Sorrento Hotel, which ran until June 2012. As executive editor of, Caples hopes to cultivate an informed dialog about regional culture and bring people of diverse backgrounds together in support of nonprofits, artists and community builders.