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‘You forget there’s an outside world’: TV-watching record broken with four-day binge

“Bob’s Burgers” was among shows watched during a record-setting binge. (Fox Broadcasting)

Forget everything you know about binge-watching TV. Alejandro “AJ” Fragoso has you beat.

He has everyone beat, in fact: He just set the binge-watching world record.

On Friday, Fragoso holed up in a Midtown Manhattan apartment with two others and several witnesses to start what would become a nearly four-day attempt at making binge-watching history. In the end, his record-seeking peers peeled off and only Fragoso survived to complete the 94-hour ordeal, breaking a Guinness World Record set just a month earlier.

Pity the poor Austrians who watched 92 hours of TV in March only to be dethroned weeks later.

Fragoso’s TV playlist included episodes of “Battlestar Galactica,” “Twilight Zone,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Bob’s Burgers,” among other shows.

And although it was part of a marketing ploy for multimedia software-maker CyberLink — which repeatedly plugged its software in a statement announcing the record-setting event — the experience was nonetheless torturous, Fragoso said.

“Around the second day we started having minor hallucinations we started seeing writing on the screen that wasn’t there,” he told local TV station WPIX. “You forget there’s an outside world at that point you’re trapped in this tiny room.”

Participants were granted five minutes of rest for every hour of TV they watched, a Guinness official said. That’s according to a video recorded by Tech Insider, which was on hand during the attempt.

In interviews recorded with the site, Fragoso described having waking dreams.

Molly Ennis, one of two people who joined him in the effort, described experiencing stomach pain.

“I feel terrible. I think we both are having stomach aches,” she said in the video.

She also jokingly described frustration with witnesses to the event, who watched the group and took notes based on their actions. Ennis was disqualified after roughly 60 hours when she broke eye contact with the TV to check Fragoso’s ringing phone, according to the video; Fragoso was taking a power nap during an allotted break.

“I’m kind of upset,” she said in the video. Ennis remained on the couch as emotional support for Fragoso.

Fragoso and Ennis were joined by Louise Matsakis, an editorial fellow with Vice’s Motherboard.

Here’s how she described her experience:

By the end of the day, my eyes ached from looking at the TV, and I was in a terrible mood. Watching all those episodes, especially scenes where characters were getting along particularly well, made me feel lonely and isolated. Towards the end, funny scenes failed to garner much of a response in me.
The most overwhelming emotion I felt however, was numbness. I felt nothing.

All of that, and she quit after just 10 hours.

A doctor was present and conducted a physical check-up before and after the event. In the end, he found that Fragoso had an elevated heart rate and exhibited neurological side effects, including involuntary open-eyed “micronaps” and acute hallucinations.

The physician — Robert Glatter, a professor at the Northwell Hofstra School of Medicine — credited Fragoso’s Mediterranean diet and frequent standing and stretching with helping the 25-year-old fight fatigue and maintain his blood-sugar levels.

A 25-year study published late last year in JAMA Psychiatry found that television-watching among young adults can affect cognitive function decades later.

Josh Garrell is a Netflix tagger. His job? He is paid to watch television shows and movies for hours a day. (Video: Jhaan Elker/The Washington Post)

Researchers asked more than 3,200 people between ages 18 and 30 to record their television viewing habits and rates of physical activity and then followed up with them after five, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years. In the end, they administered three cognitive tests to each.

“After adjusting for things like age, race, sex, education level, smoking, alcohol use, BMI and other factors, the researchers found that participants with high television viewing and low physical activity were two times as likely to perform poorly — which was defined as one standard deviation below the mean — on the first two tests,” The Post reported at the time.