On The Netflix Effect

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10:11am. I am sitting in my parents’ living room, feet clad in camp socks and Ugg slippers perched prominently upon the coffee table as if they thought they were the Sunday Style section of the Times. I drink tea. I turn on the television. In the kitchen, my dad is rolling strips of thinly sliced lox, just the way I like it, into tiny circles and placing them side by side on a large, ceramic platter. I mean, it’s brunch. We care about these things. Presentation is everything.

The first and best program I find to feast my eyes on, appeasing my grumbling stomach that yearns for a not-scooped out whole wheat everything, is SpongeBob SquarePants.

An episode of SpongeBob on a Sunday morning is better than prescribed anxiety medication. It is prescribed anxiety medication, that which I seemed to have left behind at some point in my life say, um, seven to fifteen years ago. The Feeling Of Watching SpongeBob On A Sunday Morning In Pajamas is one that has no proper name and not nearly enough recognition; yet, it was a strange experience because until I was feeling The Feeling, I didn’t realize it was one I hadn’t felt in ages.

Maybe I can blame this on the fact that I don’t have a TV in any bedroom I call my own — at home or school or place of sleep during summer or anything — but I’d guess that even if you do, you don’t come across this feeling often. And that is because your time is spent watching Netflix, which is an experience entirely different from watching normal television in the way we once did pre-Netflix.

Last week, I took my thirteen-year-old cousin shopping. I asked her what shows she watches, and this was her answer: “Glee (because they have all the seasons on Netflix now), and The Fosters [to which I asked, ‘is that on Netflix too?’ and she replied, ‘yes’]. Mostly YouTube videos.”

Now, I highly doubt that all practices of Saturday and Sunday morning cartoon watching are dead, because how else can parents of children old enough to sit up but not crawl or walk get those extra thirty minutes of sleep? Yet, they are less abundant than they once were, which I learned this weekend not just from the SpongeBob Experience but also from my 2-4pm half-napping-on-the-couch experience later that day.

You know how they take victims to crime scenes or have them smell things to bring back their memory? I forget the term for it — I know there is one, maybe it’s sensual memory (if that isn’t used to describe a graphic way of recollecting sexual experience) — but that’s what I had this weekend. I forgot that I once spent three hours every Saturday morning watching back-to-back episodes of Say Yes to the Dress all throughout middle and most of high school until I found myself back in that same sleepy position on the couch.

Today, if I want to watch a movie or a TV show when I wake up or before bed, I watch it on my computer in bed. I’ve lost my free spirited ways of flipping through channels in search of something satisfying. Thus, there’s no more sporadic SpongeBob watching until Criminal Minds is back on at 4, or no pleasant surprise when The Hot Chick is on TV. We miss the things we settled for (though in hindsight we realize SpongeBob was never truly “settling”) because we are now the masters of our own TV guides.

My mom and I used to eagerly await the two hours of TV time we’d spend together on nights when “our shows” were on — House, American Idol, Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy, 24, Gossip Girl, Girls, Pretty Little Liars, True Blood, ER — but now, for me at least, there is no waiting. I’m so concerned with catching up on all of the important television art and pop culture I missed while I was too busy worrying about about Serena and Blair that I have no time for OITNB or House of Cards. Instead, I spent the last month speeding through 30 Rock. I couldn’t watch this season of Girls the fun way — waiting for the weekly episode to drop — because I didn’t have time to keep up. Instead, I binge-watched it all in two sittings when it was over. I did the same with Broad City. And Portlandia. 

Netflix has created a universe of binge-watching television maniacs that hastily compete as if it is sport. Today, there is a cornucopia of good TV at my disposal. And the library keeps on growing. At this rate, I will never be well-versed in everything I should. I will never know or care about who died in the season finale of Game of Thrones. I will never have time to watch SpongeBob again.

Instead, I’ll be over here, tucked in bed with the lights turned off, with nothing but the warm glow of my laptop (which will one day surely give me radiation poisoning and turn me blind, yay!) and the insidious words on the lower righthand corner of my screen: “Next episode playing in 13 seconds.”

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On The Opposite of Basic

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basic bitch

We all know what “basic” is by virtue of its aggravating tendency to gradually encompass more and more of our vices and indulgences. First, Uggs were no longer just ugly (and comfortable!) — they became basic. Starbucks, the most convenient, predictable (predictably meh, which is better than surprisingly horrible) cup of coffee became basic. Victoria’s Secret is basic, though it wasn’t basic when I bought my first pair — perhaps the first pair — of mustard, elastic bottomed “Love Pink” sweatpants in fourth grade and everyone laughed at me for wearing something from an underwear store in the blinding, elementary school daylight. Jean skirts are basic, so are leggings, and eff me because, if worn properly, both of those things are great, and so is Sex and the City, Taylor Swift, Tiffany charm bracelets, and more of Taylor Swift.

Now, in order to avoid being basic, or simply to avoid having a select few basic tendencies, I cannot watch Carrie Bradshaw making curly hair look cool nor can I listen to “Speak Now” on repeat. Fine, it may have helped in my recent separation from the latter that Tay pulled her discography from Spotify. Regardless, I digress.

So, if I have ditched the Love Pink attire, stopped drinking coffee because it mixes poorly with my most Jewish qualities (anxiety and sensitive stomach), and only wear leggings in the house, am I no longer basic at all?

And if I, or we — if you’re with me on this — are not basic, then what are we?

I think I’ve forgotten. Before the term “basic” was coined to mean things other than, well, basic, the basic life still must have existed, albeit nameless like a risky, unidentified sushi roll. Still, there must be more basic people now that there’s an identity with which they can clearly express themselves; like how there suddenly exists more perverted 13-year-olds once they get laptops and discover porn. It works the same way.

Considering that theory, then, many of us were not basic in the years between 2003 and 2008. We just were. We were normal. But if everyone was basic, then no one was, and so please lord tell me, WHAT WERE WE?

Yes, I’m sickened too by how easy it is to philosophize about this.

Anyway, I saw this motivational quote Instagram post earlier today that claims the opposite of “basic” to be “epic.” It didn’t exactly state that, but it mostly did, and it got me thinking about this whole thing.

Because when it comes down to it, I’m afraid not many people would call me epic.

So am I basic?

Maybe I’m a lot of other great things, but epic is a big word. I aspire to be epic. Yet, I’m not quite sure if that is the opposite of basic-ness. I mean, in my personal opinion, a pumpkin spice latte WITH whip will always be very epic.

What do you think the opposite of basic is? Or maybe there aren’t even opposites. Maybe basic is on a spectrum, like the rainbow or like sexuality is, and we’re all just kind of teetering back and forth between two misspelled names on a coffee cup.

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Flavor of Week: How To Say Happy Birthday

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MILEY'S SWEET 16 Ñ Miley Cyrus will celebrate her ÒSweet 16Ó during a once-in-a-lifetime birthday bash at Disneyland in California this fall.  ÒMileyÕs Sweet 16 Ð Share The CelebrationÓ will be an unforgettable event for Miley and her fans that also will serve to recognize Youth Service America and help drive awareness of the need for youth volunteerism.  The Hollywood-style bash is planned for Sunday, Oct. 5, from 6 to 11 p.m., with ticket sales limited to 5,000 fans.  Tickets, priced at $250, go on sale at 9 a.m. PDT, Saturday, Aug. 30, at www.disneyparks.com/miley.   (Scott Brinegar/Disneyland)

Today, my little brother turned seventeen. This is a big deal. He can drive and now has an age-specific magazine to which he can properly relate in times of need, like a long distance BFF.

I felt pure enjoyment from reading the posts on his Facebook timeline. A lot of people wrote, “happy birthday bro,” which made me feel like a proud older sister–“bro” is probably the male equivalent of the female “babe,” meaning guys who have man-crushes on my little brother have written on his wall and yes, after all these years, he is a well-liked chap.

Writing on someone’s “timeline” for his or her birthday is the perfect thing to do when you have a man-crush/girl crush (as aforementioned), or even just a general crush (to whom you don an extra !! at the end of your birthday wish. Maybe he’ll notice me now!!!!!). Before Facebook, happy birthday’s were said the old fashioned way, like when passing someone in the hall even if you weren’t super tight.

But Facebook has added a new dimension to the birthday: it’s kind of like receiving a million cards; it gives you something extra with which you can measure how great your birthday was; it gives certain people no excuse not to say happy birthday because of how easy it can be to just say it, thereby allowing you to use your birthday as a way to gauge the legitimacy some of your relationships. (Then again, should we really be gauging the legitimacy of our relationships based on a Facebook wall post, or lack thereof?)

I’ve spent whole birthdays waiting to see if a few specific characters, let’s call them, reach out to me. And then the birthday is over, and they either haven’t reached out or they have. At this point, I can either pat myself on the back and be like, “you’re definitely the bigger person here,” or I can pout and hope they send a regretful text the next day, which they usually do.

I am intrigued by the way we use Facebook to extend warmest wishes on the anniversary of one’s birth. There is nothing greater than birthday collages, or when you see wall posts from one best friend to another even though they’ve obviously been speaking since the clock struck midnight. Still, we love the extra gift, free of monetary cost, yet with invaluable social cost, that Facebook gives us each year.

That all being said, I rarely use Facebook to convey birthday wishes.

It’s great for girl-crushes, it’s great for people whose phone numbers I don’t have but wish I did, and in my eyes, that’s about it. The last Facebook photo collage I made was for my best guy friend and included photos of us making strange faces on a camel in Israel. In that case, it was, as they say, irresistablé.

My most important question as of recent: Is it better to make a wall post, or to not say “happy birthday” at all?

There are pros and cons to each type of birthday wish, from Hallmark card in the mail to Instagram comment to text to phone call to Facebook message (yes, it holds a different weight than a Facebook wall post). “Happy birthday” isn’t really about wishing someone another year of beautiful life, preferably processed with VSCOcam C1 filter. It isn’t even really about what you say–well, unless you’re giving me extra exclamation points or a <3 or a “babe”. It’s about how you say it.

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