I just might be in the throws of the slowest and most preventable death in history – death by Netflix.
We nearly ended out subscription earlier this summer as a way to save a few bucks in the summer. We weren’t using it much, anyway, especially after Yo Gabba Gabba!, Dora and other kid favorites were eliminated from the catalog. But then Arrested Development made its long-awaited return. And Orange is the New Black debuted. And, now, I’ve gotten into House of Cards. Oy.
The problem is – at least – twofold.
I’m not disciplined enough to turn it off. For years, I’ve been a TV-before-bed guy. It’s an easy and mindless way to wind down after a day and/or night likely filled with appointments and deadlines – usually while eating a bowl of cereal (or three). But what make Netflix different than TV is the portability – I can watch it on my phone while brushing my teeth, washing the dishes or just laying in bed. I lack the strength to just put the damn thing down and before I know it 30 minutes has turned into 120 minutes. So long, sleep. Except I need sleep, badly, being a journalist, blogger, narcoleptic and father of four. There’s no way to make up for what I lose. None.
Of course, Netflix bears some culpability, too. It’s crafty, evolving from mailed discs to live streaming, from movies and TV – then less of it due to changing relationships with studios – to original programming rolled out all at once instead of in weekly installments. That’s my biggest issue at the moment – binge watching shows. Traditional TV puts a restrictor plate on my watching capabilities – one hour at a time, once night a week (give or take). Maybe that’s for my own good because I’m incapable of holding myself to that.
It’s binge, binge, binge. I’m hoping the purge comes after I’m done with Season 1 of House of Cards, a 13-epidsode show starring Kevin Spacey as a likeably slimy, camera-talking South Carolina Senator. Then again, I figured I’d be able to quit Netflix after burning through Season 1 of Orange is the New Black, another original show centered around a college-educated woman spending a year in the slammer. Neither creation is as historically good as, say, Mad Men, but both are better than most, similar in terms of production, quality and adult content to high-end shows on HBO, AMC or FX – movie grade except much longer. They’re garnering positive feedback from viewers, critics and awards shows – House of Cards recently became the first non-TV show ever to earn an Emmy nod. Both it and Orange already have been extended for future seasons.
I remain sort of amazed that Netflix is able to pull this off from a cost standpoint because it can’t be cheap. Eight dollars a month must really add up.
I’d like to say that I’ll be able to put down my phone for a while after the final few episodes of House of Cards, but I’m not that naïve. I still haven’t tackled Breaking Bad and recently fell into the infinite independent movie rabbit hole thanks to the Lena Dunham project “Tiny Furniture,” a precursor to the HBO show Girls. There’s no telling what show, model or delivery method Netflix might unveil next in its diabolical attempt to ruin my life.
No, the only way out is to cancel. I wonder if the end-subscription form has a box for “It’s just too good.”