I have had a bit of a tough year this year. A few sad and hard things have happened, and I’ve been rejected in a few ways that really hurt. On top of that, I recently found out that my iron and B12 levels have been quite low, so my lack of energy and general mopes (which I’d mainly attributed to being unable to simply get over myself) also had a physiological basis.
In short, this year I’ve felt blah. And also a bit meh.
And my medication of choice has been Netflix.
The ‘blah/meh’ sickness climaxed at the end of the semester when I handed in my last assignment and fell in a heap. And that’s when I started watching TV. Lots of TV.
My friend had been hanging out for Season 5 of the Netflix original series, House of Cards.
“Oh, is it good?” I asked.
“No,” she replied. “He is evil. Very, very evil.”
So I watched all five seasons in just over a month. Quite a feat for a lady with four small children.
House of Cards is a terrible show. Don’t watch it. It’s full of murder and dodgy, dodgy sex scenes. An American political thriller about a vile man and his equally vile wife who will stop at nothing to become the most powerful people in the world.
If you know me even a little bit, you’ll know that it’s not the only dodgy TV show I watch. There’s also this show on Channel Ten called Offspring.
In the current series of Offspring, Billie, one of the main characters has just broken up with her husband, Mick. Her plot line revolves around having sex with as many men as possible. She’s building a ‘sex wall’; a series of one night stands to help her build an emotional barrier that will prevent her grieving over the loss of her husband. It’s not going to end well.
I’m such a massive fan of this show that I devised a series of rules for my husband to abide by when the show is on. Channel Ten got wind of my rules and they made them into a little graphic and shared them on their Facebook page.
Check out how many times it was liked and shared! I’m clearly not the only woman shushing her husband so she can watch.
But occasionally I do wonder, why do I enjoy a show whose characters have values and standards of morality that are so different to my own?
There were many moments during my House of Cards binge where I thought, I probably shouldn’t be watching this.
There’s that verse in the bible that says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” -Philippians 4:8
Hmm. Building a sex wall? Not so lovely. Throwing a girl in front of a train? Really ignoble.
The conclusion I come to on this is that I am an adult, and I am capable of sifting good from evil. I can smile at the beauty of the fierce love and family loyalty depicted in Offspring without being affected by the less innocent plot lines. I am aware that House of Cards does not endorse the actions of the evil characters- in fact, the program is constructed in such a way that we are encouraged to reject the villainy. We are positioned to hate the blackness of Frank’s heart.
I recognize that in creating such vile characters and such twisted plots, Netflix is aligning itself with my own values.
So I reason with myself and decide that I’m okay to watch.
But here’s the other thing, and I’ll quote the evil Frank Underwood himself:
“There is only so much time and energy in a day and I think we all need to be constantly asking ourselves, “am I spending it as wisely as I can?”
When Frank stared directly into the camera in Season Five and delivered that line, I had to laugh out loud and hit pause for a moment to take in the irony of his statement.
Well played, Netflix.
Frank was speaking to his wife Claire about her ongoing affair with another man. Completely devoid of emotion about the situation, Frank was simply asking Claire if the time spent in bed with the man was time well spent. (In his view, it was distracting her from their dastardly plan to take over the world.)
But the question is a good one for us all, and I think the program’s creators had a little giggle when they wrote that line in.
A little while back, CEO of Netflix, Reed Hasting tweeted this:
Netflix doesn’t hide the fact that their mission statement, the point of their product and the measure of their success, is to get you watching hours and hours of streamed television without stopping.
It is designed so you will binge. And that is my problem.
When I binge on Netflix, the wet washing sits in the machine instead of making it to the line.
When I binge on Netflix, I don’t make eye contact with the kids when they talk to me.
When I binge on Netflix, I push out the world, and I escape into fantasy.
When I binge on Netflix, I deafen my ears to the still, quiet voice of God. The voice that teaches, rebukes, encourages and guides.
This might not be a problem you have.
I know I have an addictive personality so I’m more prone to be drawn into things that I find hard to break free of. Not everyone is like that, I know.
But I am.
So I’ve decided that I will no longer binge on Netflix. I won’t turn a good thing into a problem for myself.
The plan requires backup because I’m likely to fail, so, like many recovering addicts, I’ve got myself a sponsor.
His name is Leigh Cherry.
Leigh and I have started watching the Netflix series, Outlander.
Oh boy! I love it! Fortunately, Leigh is pretty keen on it too.
Outlander is not a show you want to watch with your mother in law; in addition to the sword fights and gun battles, it gets pretty steamy.
But it’s okay- I’ve got my filters on and I’m processing how I’m thinking and responding.
And I’ve got my new Netflix buddy, who doesn’t let us watch more than one episode a day. And sometimes he makes us skip a few days.
It’s a much better way of watching.
Afterall… there’s only so much time and energy in a day and I think we all need to be constantly asking ourselves, “am I spending it as wisely as I can?”
Everything in moderation.