Sometimes, Alan and I decide it’s time to spend some quality time together. Doing something other than sitting on the couch staring at our respective laptops and IM’ing each other from the next cushion over. If we’re feeling really wild and crazy, maybe on a Friday night, we used to pull on our shoes and take a walk down our street to the Hollywood Video on 45th street. It’s a few blocks, long enough to have some good conversation and get a little exercise, short enough that we still had time to watch a DVD when we got home. Supporting local businesses by living in a neighborhood with its own grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment were huge factors influencing where Alan decided to buy a house in the first place. I wasn’t in the picture at the time, but I applaud his thinking here.
It all worked so well, up until the day we walked to Hollywood Video to see this:
Note the “Huge Sale” and “Closing Soon” signs. In the past, if we felt like really living large, we headed across the street with our latest release in hand, to enjoy a milkshake from this place on the way home.
Milkshake and a movie? That’s a four star date night around the Klug house. Without Hollywood video as the supplier of our “The Wire” habit, what could we do? All the brick and mortar video stores in our neighborhood have closed, and it looked like we only had one option left. Enter the shared Netflix queue.
While we still mourn the demise of the local video store, the lack of exercise, and opportunity for conversation and hand-holding (insert ‘eeewwww’ factor here) that are no longer part of our date night ritual, we do enjoy the convenience Netflix provides. While we don’t have cable, we can catch up on The Office, we’re almost through season three of The Wire, and have the chance to pick out new and old movies we both enjoy. Granted, there is still some degree of compromise, and sharing a queue leads Netflix to assume you’re a deeply conflicted individual who enjoys Pink Panther movies (Alan) and rates 10 Things I Hate About You as a 5 star film (Leah). One person’s penchant for bloody war and action films, and the other’s enjoyment of subtitled foreign films tests the limits of Netflix’s ability to predict what we may or may not want to watch.
I also love the “Based on your interest in…” feature, which makes interesting logic leaps. If I rated “Hotel Rwanda” highly, I’ll automatically like “Akeelah and the Bee”. Really Netflix? All films with Black leading actors are somehow the same? And watching “Bend it Like Beckham” means I should watch all your Hindi language documentaries? Hmmm. Not that I’m saying the associated movies aren’t good films, but clearly the criteria for associating them is very one dimensional.
Sharing a Netflix queue with another person means compromise. We each get to choose movies, and when it’s time to watch a German documentary on bike racing, I try to be a good sport, and do my best not to fall asleep. When my pick comes in the mail, and I share the latest Harry Potter film with Alan, we both understand that supporting the other person can at times mean sacrifice for the good of the relationship. And it’s a good thing that in the end, we like a lot of the same movies.