To Netflix or not to Netflix?

Claire Hamilton


Gaining forty million subscribers over the past four years, Netflix is an entertainment power player few of us have managed to avoid.

This technological hurricane has swept across the Western world with unparalleled force. What could be better than coming home after a long, hard day of lectures and devouring episode after episode of ‘House of Cards’, ‘Orange is the New Black’ or even ‘Sorority Girls Revenge’ (if this is your series of choice I promise not to judge). Gone are the days of DVD rental, slow buffering speeds and the dreaded practice of actually having to wait a week for the release of a much-anticipated series finale (the horror!). 2015 means that with just a few taps of the keyboard, the next episode will always be waiting for us. What could possibly be averse about this instant access to more films, series, documentaries and dramas than we could ever complete? Surely our access to culture has never been better.

Now, I’m not out to fight the Netflix giants: a noble quest to stop this worldwide phenomenon, myself against 40 million subscribers is perhaps a duty I’d prefer to tackle after my degree. An evening glass of wine and a Richard Curtis film is a combination I find difficult to surpass, so I’m not trying to guilt-trip you for finishing the latest series of ‘Mad Men’ more quickly than you’d care to admit.

2015 means that with just a few stokes of the keyboard the next episode will always be ready for us.

Ok, maybe suggesting that Netflix sweeping the planet like a cultural natural disaster is a step too far; however, do we ever step back from our laptop screens long enough to acknowledge the effect this ‘on demand’ mentality is having on our society as a whole? Have we became a society that has no grander goal than convenience over everything, breeding a culture of impatience which we now appear to consider not a sin but a virtue?

I suggest we don’t completely scrap the old television model just yet. Perhaps some of the little joys in TV entertainment are worth waiting for. Take the shared excitement for the series finale of Sherlock, surely an hour of such high quality is worth the wait? Furthermore, when watching episode after episode, can we really appreciate the high quality acting, meticulously crafted set and the adrenaline rush of each plot twist and turn, when we can barely wait to click ‘watch another’.

Clearly there are many benefits of ‘Netflix-mania’; convenience, enjoyment and one click to instant relaxation and entertainment. However, the idealist in me whispers that television is an art, patience is a virtue, and perhaps we are in danger of merely consuming rather than enjoying this art.