I used to work with a guy who didn’t have a TV. He announced it proudly at any given opportunity. Someone would make a cultural reference and he would say – as drily as his secret glee would allow – “The Bill? What bill? I don’t know what you’re talking about, because I don’t have a TV.”
Now, I have become him. I don’t have a TV. I only have Netflix. I am a Netflixer – and I have my reasons. I moved house last year and, when I went to plug in the TV, I found the cable had been severed. The next day, a TV licence demand came, asking money for television we couldn’t watch.
Now we have nothing but Netflix, which makes you choose a programme you want to watch, and makes you decisively click on it. It also means if the internet breaks down you have find other means of entertainment, such as reading or talking to a fellow human. But that level of control was delicious after years of having a TV, when I would just pick a channel and allow it to pipe out its contents at me like a hose. I know you all have the power to switch off the TV and use your day to save the dolphins, learn to play the clarinet and write a novel, and I commend you. But some of us are, regrettably, rubbish.
There are cultural ramifications. Have you ever tried to explain a new TV show to a clueless Netflixer? It all sounds ludicrous. What am I supposed to do with my face when someone says, “It’s celebrities skiing off a slope, for an hour”, or “It’s people having sex in a box then chatting about it”? I feel like I’m in a Little Britain sketch. (See how out of date my TV references are?)
In trying to avoid being perceived as a cultural numbskull, us Netflixers have to read TV reviews and Twitter to discover what people are squawking about. This means that everything comes tinted with the colouring of someone else’s opinion – an op-ed, a nasty tweet, a BuzzFeed summing-up. When I read articles claiming that Celebrity Big Brother is actually good this time, eventually I have to take them at their word.