Saturday, August 15, 2015

The State of My Relationship With Netflix

In preparation for this post, I have reviewed every prior reference I've ever made to Netflix on my blog.

Typically it's been in the context of something on Netflix, how Netflix is one cog in the media world diminishing our shared culture, or how Netflix has a leg up over Blockbuster (in semi-regular post I did previously about the end of the Blockbuster-era). I even had a post in 2011 about the short lived company Qwikster that spun off the physical DVD side of Netflix into a short lived company.

And yet, I've never posted how I feel about Netflix. In fact, if I had posted in 2008 about Netflix (my first Netflix reference), I think my feelings would have been different - largely in part because I would have discussed Netflix as a DVD-by-mail video subscription service.

But in 2015, we're dealing with a different beast. A highly profitable company who while still mailing disk to some, primarily fills homes with on-demand video streaming services. That same company that mailed copies of DVDs offers something additional now that it didn't have previously, which was original content.

Disregarding feelings of Netflix from times past, I pick up my feelings in 2015 with a snapshot of feelings today.

Frankly, I can do without Netflix. I am a faithful library wait-lister and feel that I can get more than my hearts content from my local library system as long as I am patient to wait for more recent or popular releases.

I would never say my wife is less patient than I, but well...sometimes she's less likely to take some extra steps by working through the system to get what she wants...especially if she wants it right now. So, if we are subscribed to Netflix it is because she started it.

Over the past 12 months we have begun subscriptions twice (once I canceled, and she picked it up a few months later). It seems that both times started because my wife wanted to watch Gilmore Girls, that WB phenomenon that, for whatever reason, my wife does not tire of.

She wants to watch Gilmore girls and subscribe to Netflix for $7.99 month, than so be it.

But then we've "invested" the money and we feel like this should be our media source for the month (instead of my well stacked library wait list).

And then, a surprising thing happens. Of all the choices there may be one thing that draws us in, perhaps a TV shows we're behind on or a movie we've been wanting to watch. But after that one thing we're stuck with tons and tons of content but nothing we want to watch.

Now, don't hear me say there's nothing good on Netflix. There is. But as a person who's seen many many movies, for example, I've already made it a point to see what I want to see, so say a great movie like Sunset BoulevardCity of God, Good Will Hunting, or Short Term 12, may be available, but I've seen those.

I'm looking for something hard-to-fine on my watch list. Maybe the type of films that my local library doesn't carry (which are few and far between). Some movies on my watch list that my library doesn't carry is Fred Zinneman's 1948 film The Search, or the Barbara Stanwyck and Humphry Bogart film The Two Mrs. Carrols (1947). But the obscure collection on Netflix does skew towards the obscure I'm looking for. I'm not looking to watch The Gabby Douglas Story or The Woman In Black 2: Angel of Death (although both show on the Netflix page right now as films I may be interested in, I am not).

So, I might spend hours (and I mean literally hours) to search through the depths of the Netflix catalog to find the films and TV shows I forgo that I wanted to watch or gems that grab my interest. There has been a winner or two in the mix. We were so glad to find The Honourable Woman or watch Broadchurch. Yet to dig these selections out took work.

So in this regard you might catch me complaining about Netflix. I find it mostly a mix of (a) good stuff I've already seen (b) stuff I'm aware of but not interested in (c) stuff I'm not aware of and not interested. The category I'm missing is "stuff I'm interested in." This makes it a bad product for me.

But there is this extra category that is problematic. It breeds a love/hate relationship with netflix. This is...original content.

I largely have avoided some of Netflix's original content (I tried to do Season 4 of Arrested Development, but it wasn't the Arrested Development I loved). But pause there...it's all not Arrested Development Season 4.

My wife a few months back watch the first season of the Netflix Original Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. My wife and I both enjoyed this show - it's humor...well was humorous to us (not sure what that says about us, but I don't think we're alone).

Netflix taking a power grab at not just being a technology company or content deliverer, but a content creator has crossed over into genius territory here because now they will grab me as a subscriber. Every month I try to quit them every month, but if we're stuck in the middle of a TV show we're watching when the month ends we keep the subscription alive. And even when I succeed in cutting the chord there will be a day when my wife says "the next season of Kimmy Schmidt's on Netflix, you want to watch some this weekend" and it will start up again.

So like many (I presume) I will continue to search things in Google like "The best movies on Netflix right now" or "New Netflix Movies August 2015" in hopes of a gem, captured by the one-off of pleasure and trapped by a subscription service that sometimes fails to meet me were I am.

This is the state of my relationship with Netflx today, August 2015.    

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