Netflix is the new black

Cultural cadence


I’ve seen more seasons of “The Bachelorette” than I would like to admit. I even watched some episodes of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” this past summer and felt my heart rate quicken every time some dumb fight arose, such as when Kylie stole some of Kim’s clothes. Needless to say, my television-watching has always been sub-par, to say the least — I’d say borderline socially unacceptable.

But then I learned some very valuable information: My parents have a Netflix account. This made me re-evaluate my watching habits once I realized that there was more out there for me than getting flustered over some “Bachelorette” contestant having a girlfriend back at home or getting fired up over a swanky Calabasas suburban house brawl.

Before this revelation, I had never really been deeply invested in a hardcore drama or any other critically acclaimed show. Throughout my teen years, my TV watching consisted mostly of “The Amazing Race,” “SportsCenter,” reruns of “Friends” and, of course, that god-forsaken tearjerker mentioned above. And although I can recount to you almost every hilarious spazz attack that Ross has during the “Friends” series, I was always the one quietly pretending to check Facebook on my phone every two seconds while my friends were gushing over last night’s thrilling episode of this show or that.

My “Netflix Revolution” came at the beginning of this semester, and it has changed everything, similar to the effect of  when an In N Out opens in Berkeley one day. Ever since then, I’ve quite frequently found myself cocooned in my bed with my computer propped up while I watch a show: when I come back from classes, in between homework assignments and as I look at the clock and wonder what my psychology professor is saying in lecture at that moment.

My first order of business was zipping through the first season of “House of Cards” in a few short days, which led to a serious sense of self-pride, as if the fact that I succeeded in watching a drama of merit meant I was moving up in this world. It was a feeling much like when I realized that I was beginning to sprout some armpit hair years ago — the feeling that I’ve made it. Since then, I’ve laughed through two seasons of “Arrested Development,” dabbled in some “Orange Is the New Black” and participated in some serious procrastination.

The main benefit of having a Netflix account is convenience. Whenever I have an hour or so of free time, I can flip on a show and get lost in something other than my numerous social media feeds or the paper due the next day. Also, rather than losing past shows to the vortex of time, I’ve been able to revive and enjoy them. Instead of awkwardly fidgeting on the outside of the circle of friends once the conversation turns to a TV show, I can be right there in the middle of it and emphatically declaring my opinions.

However, as fantastic as Netflix has been to me in the past month, there are still some aspects of it that, to put it bluntly, scare the crap out of me. And I would probably be able to describe this emotion more eloquently if I hadn’t been looking at the clock wondering what my psychology professor was saying at that moment while I lay in bed watching “Modern Family.”

I’m deeply worried about what I could possibly become due to my Netflix consumption. I have nightmares in which I envision my face in black and white, and dramatic music plays as a narrator says, “Tonight, a shocking TLC Special: ‘How I Lost My Life To Netflix.’ ”

I could turn into that guy who sloppily shovels spoonfuls of Fruity Pebbles into his mouth with his hair askew and his pajama pants still on while having his eyes transfixed on the computer screen for hours — days — on end. I could get ferociously angry at my roommate when he opens our bedroom door right when the climax of an episode is going down and never talk to him ever again because he completely ruined the best part of the show. This, of course, is after shoving him out of the room while making an alarming noise that reveals my inner animalistic nature — I imagine an outburst somewhere between Chewbacca and a chimp from Planet of the Apes.

Or I could drive my friends crazy by being super into shows that were popular years ago. “Oh my god, can you believe what happened on ‘Lost’? This is crazy, I bet no one can guess what’s going to happen next, it’s that intense of a show, bro.” “Dude, ‘The Sopranos’ is insane!” “Jack Bauer is a serious stud. I wonder if he’s going to catch the terrorist this time!” And, naturally, all these exclamations would be my Facebook statuses, tweets, texts and parts of my normal conversations. Then, fed up, my friends would reply with a link to Wikipedia with an entire plot summary, and I would become beyond hysterically upset.

It’s certainly a fine line to walk in this newly found Netflix world of mine. I can broaden my television entertainment beyond constructed reality shows, and I could be hip and happening next time someone brings up how amazing a certain show is. But I could also turn into a monster possessed by the powers of streaming capabilities and lose all friends and sense of civility that I have.

Perhaps worst of all, I could become one of those annoying “Breaking Bad” fans.

Image courtesy of Jamiesrabbits.

Contact Taran Moriates at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @taranmoriates.