Netflix, I owe you a debt of thanks. Because of you, and your countless hours of time-wasting fodder, I now know that I am, in fact, not boring, lame or without anything to do. Movies and entire TV series sit, unwatched, in my queue, waiting for me to have a day off sick, a lazy Sunday, a Friday night film fest. But alas, I am too busy. They have lay dormant, unwatched, for months. And that's a good thing.
I need not enumerate the merits of Netflix - namely, Netflix instant. I remember before the instant service began, when I would receive my bright red envelopes in the mail. I initially went in halfsies with a friend, but then jettisoned him when all of the DVDs that arrived were about wrestling. Hey, I enjoy a good piledriver as much as the next guy, but I like variety, too.
My first movie was a documentary about people who jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. Grim, yes, but until then I was starved for any art-house or indie films, being an hour or more from any theaters that show that stuff. So I went overboard and got a whole bunch of movies that had the thumbs-up from whichever film festival. Some were a hit, some were a miss. One sat unwatched for a record 18 months, and I began to suffer from what is called "Netflix guilt," until I read a Slate.com survey about unwatched Netflix DVDs and learned that thousands of others felt the same ambivalence about "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." I never did watch it.
Netflix also allowed for a resurgence of nostalgia. I could watch any guilty pleasure from my youth without having to blow off a dusty of VHS tape and engage in war with the tracking button, or be seen buying a copy of "BMX Bandits" from the store. I indulged in a film with not one, but two Coreys. I went waaay back with Sesame Street's "Follow that Bird" (which I saw in the theater at age 5, not knowing that Waylon Jennings plays the truck driver). Kid movies that came out after my time were viewed (I found that I still cry every time I watch "Babe").
When the lovely instant viewing began, we really went whole hog. I could view not only movies, but entire series runs of TV shows all at once. No waiting two or three days between discs, doled out in moderation. This way, I could spend four days without sleep reliving "Roseanne" or "South Park." By then my dad had fanangled my password and was spending his waking moments not working or mowing watching "The First 48." There seemed to be no end in sight to the viewing pleasure. But this is when I discovered that I don't have as much free time as I thought.
I love TV and movies. Not as a distraction or a brain cell-killing device, but as an art form, displaying some of the best in creativity in the audio / visual medium. The human condition is explored in every light, from satire to comedy to drama, sometimes with puppets. But as much as I would like to delve into a world I have yet to explore, like that of "Lost" or "Mad Men," I found I actually have a life after all. What a surprise to learn that I wasn't lame! It really was a comfort, and I am grateful that I have enough friends and work and activities to keep me from becoming a couch yam (potatoes are passe). I was really beginning to worry there, around season 7 of "King of the Hill" when I hadn't showered in awhile. But Netflix, I am sorry, but I have a life, too. We have to spend some time apart.
So, I apologize, "The Twilight Zone." "Breaking Bad," I know it is a sin against television that I haven't watched you yet, but I will some day. The week I was deathly sick this year was a special one for us, Netflix. But it wasn't meant to last. Maybe some day soon I will be in a full-body cast, and we can while away the hours together in the magical world of Tony Soprano, Doctor Who or Ren and Stimpy while I lie in traction. But for now, there is a wide world of sunshine, open roads, good times and good friends to enjoy.
Then again, I can watch Netflix on my phone while kayaking. Uh oh.