I cancelled my red-envelope-era Netflix years ago when I realized that the movies I choose to tell a website that I want to watch do not match up with the movies I actually want to watch when it is time to watch movies. I loved the way the system fed the obsessive and compulsive nature of my pop culture consumption, allowing me to, say, encounter a list of Roger Ebert’s 100 Favorite Films of All Time and then dutifully place all of these classics in my queue. But then I’d find myself with Citizen Kane to watch on a Friday night when what I really wanted was Coyote Ugly. May the great spirit of Ebert forgive me.
I have resisted returning to Netflix in the streaming era, preferring other venues for movie rental simply because they were already available on my devices: iTunes, Amazon. I buckled to Hulu Plus when my unreliable Time Warner DVR opted out of recording the Saturday Night Live hosted by Justin Timberlake, a desperate moment for me. When I looked into ways to get SNL the day after, Hulu Plus was the only option, and they were running a first-month-free deal. Turned out the thing costs only $8, and alleviates the need for us to purchase entire seasons of Lost, as we had been doing to rewatch them.
Now I fear we need Netflix, too. This week made that so clear it feels like the company planned it, but I don’t think it did. I resisted when everyone was going gaga over House of Cards. It was the kind of show I thought I’d watch if I had access to it, but didn’t mind not dealing with. I love Kevin Spacey, but I rarely feel like I need yet another complex drama in my life these days. Great Dramas are a dime a dozen, I’m afraid. (I’m holding out on Downton Abbey purely to be rebellious now, and feel the train has left the station and even lapped me a few times on Breaking Bad.) But with all its Emmy nominations this week, I feel this is becoming an actual thing I need to know about to be conversant in pop culture, which is my job. Ugh.
Probably the real tipping point, however, is the new Netflix show Orange Is the New Black. While House of Cards lies just outside my self-declared “beat” — women in pop culture — Orange Is the New Black, a dark comedy about a “regular,” middle-class, professional woman who ends up in prison, hits my sweet spot. I can’t go anywhere — my regular blogs, my Twitter feed, dinner last night — without hearing about this thing. And Laura Prepon, whom I’ve been rooting for since That ’70s Show, stars!
Expect a load of Netflix-is-the-new-HBO stories now, because it’s true.