As I’ve grown older and gotten involved in a myriad of activities, I’ve found that I no longer have the time or inclination to watch a lot of television. At least that’s what I tell myself. The truth is that I don’t watch TV like I did ten years ago. I suppose becoming attached to programs only to have them cancelled when I’ve becoming thoroughly hooked has led to a certain sense of distancing in an activity that would otherwise envelop my life quite easily. It certainly did when I was a kid and I maintain that most of my useless knowledge comes from years of pandering from the idiot box. For example, I know that Iran was once called Persia thanks to Scooby Doo. Take that, public schools.
But over the years I’ve found myself fairly blessed without having to cordon off pieces of my schedule so that I can tune in to the latest episode of the seemingly never-ending slurry of reality shows. But it wasn’t until The Ex moved out that I found myself almost totally detached from the television. This suited my kids, and more importantly their PS3 addictions, just fine. And I was quite proud of the fact that I didn’t adhere to some sadistic schedule where I’d have to carve out an hour of my Thursday evening. In the spirit of full disclosure, I was almost arrogant about it.
The truth was that I had discovered something that started as a small subscription to see movies and turned into my daily ritual — Netflix. What started as an effort to see how many movies I could watch for $15 a month eventually turned into their $8 streaming service that pipes right in to the PS3, and more importantly my PC. Because what started off as a fledgling way to watch movies without having to wait has become such a phenomena in my house that the word Netflix is actually become a verb in my house.
“I’m gonna Netflix up a movie.”
“Sorry, but I’m Netflixing tonight.”
“Yeah, I Netflixed that series last month!”
While I’m sure that someone else has come up with that, I claim full creative rights to the term. I say this because I said it before hearing anyone else say it, and thereby any claims to the contrary are fallacious and/or some form of cow excrement. I don’t expect any financial compensation for it, but take full credit. Egos need love, too.
Netflixing isn’t without its downside, I’ve however noticed. Because I never went out of my way to get involved in what became incredibly popular shows, which everyone seems to have references they use, I’m very much behind in the pop culture race. Nothing pointed this out to me more clearly than when I became aware that I had never really watched much of The Office. (Not the original UK version, brits — the US version.) So, because I didn’t wish to be left behind on the plethora of “That’s What She Said” humor any longer, I Netflixed the series up. And over the course of the past few weeks I’ve learned an important lesson:
Never watch only one show for extended periods of time. The phrase “all things in moderation” does include your pop culture intake.
I became a laboratory example of Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me in visual media exposure. While I did enjoy the hijinks of Steve, Jim, Pam and Dwight, I had never before been so acutely aware of how many people in the world looked like Steve, Jim, Pam and Dwight. Not to mention catching myself looking off in the direction of invisible cameras to catch my expression.
But the worst part of all of this was when I finished season 7, the last available season on Netflix streaming, I found that I had nothing to watch. There was a giant hole in my life now. What was my nightly ritual was gone. And after two or three days of withdrawal, it’s only then that you come to recognize that you were hideously addicted to fictional characters. Now while that doesn’t sound all that bad, let me put it another way…
Think for a moment about the legions of fans who tune in to the final episodes of shows like Seinfeld or Cheers. They’ve watched and loved a show for 30 minutes a week over the course of years. Tears of loss are shed and they run entertainment columns for weeks after the final episode was aired. Now condense all those shows into dozens of marathons over the course a few weeks. You are suffering the emotional equivalent of drinking 6-packs concentrated Monster Energy drinks while eating handfuls of chocolate-covered espresso beans. The emotional caffeine crash is not pretty.
To top all of it off, now that I’ve finally gotten over my addiction to The Office, here I am like some tormented heroin addict scanning the available TV series on Netflix looking for my next fix. God grant me the serenity…