(original post-date: April 13, 2011)
I was late to the Netflix party.
One explanation, I suppose, is that I don’t feel compelled to rent movies that often. Also, I guess I wanted to support those stores that exist in real space and time and actually employ people who live in my ‘hood.
Less than a year ago, though, I decided to sign on and start designing my own queue, and maybe it was an incident a few months before that that helped incite the change… A friend and then-neighbor had raved about The Hangover. She’d seen it three times, in fact, and she told me she “pissed her pants” laughing. So, one afternoon, when a good pants-pissing comedy seemed in order, I rented the film.
And I watched it.
And I barely cracked a smile.
(Not my genre, I guess.)
The next day, I had to return it. And even though it was raining (which, in L.A., is often the top news story), I braved the inclement weather to return the stupid movie to the rental place. I also braved the rental place’s horrible parking lot, which was cleverly designed to facilitate fender benders.
By the time I got home (safely), I resented my otherwise dear neighbor-friend who had made the recommendation. It even occurred to my facetious mind that I should have asked her to return the stupid movie.
… When I received my first Netflix disc (which would have been a movie, though I don’t remember which one), my innate sense of rebellion came to the fore. I looked at the red envelope, and I thought, “I don’t have to watch this. You can’t make me watch this.”
Bizarre, I’ll admit.
After all, I was the one who had ordered it, for God’s sake.
But I hate being told what to do (even by me).
Or maybe I just hate being told when to do.
… After a few months on Netflix, and on the recommendation of a friend, I ordered Season One, Disc One of Six Feet Under. I found the first few episodes intriguing (if for no other reason than the eye candy of Peter Krause).
I also had lined up the series' subsequent discs on my queue, though they were separated by various other titles.
… Within a few weeks, when I was well into the second season of Six Feet Under, I realized that I could no longer take the interruptions from competing stories. I grabbed my mouse and made the big leap: Top of the Queue. Yup, the whole series. One disc after the other until the very end.
And having just completed the series the other night, I am here to say that Netflix rocks.
I cannot imagine having spent five years watching Six Feet Under. No more than I could imagine spending five years reading a great novel.
And Six Feet Under has all the trappings of a great novel: well-developed characters with distinct voices; interwoven plotlines that reveal the strengths and weaknesses of each of those characters; a balance of suspense, drama, and humor; and the interplay of day-to-day living with other-worldly occurrences.
Combine that with the trappings of a wonderful movie – talented actors; flawless direction; strong atmospheric details – and the ride goes to a new level of involvement.
A brilliant television series watched in as few sittings as possible is like a book-on-tape with moving pictures.
… When I lived in New York, a roommate once said to me, “I always know when you’re about to finish reading a novel, because you close your door.”
True. Because: if it’s the kind of novel I love, I usually cry at the end. (In fact, if I come to the end of a novel and I don’t cry, I feel a little short-changed.)
The other night, watching the final episode of Six Feet Under gave me all the emotional joy of a novel’s end. There remained conflict in the first half or so of the two-hour episode, but it worked its way beautifully to closure and resolution.
I had to hit the Pause button several times to wipe the salt stains off my glasses. And the next day, when I remembered specific scenes in the series finale, my eyes got wet again. The Fisher family had been a part of my life for several engaging weeks.
It’s funny, too; generally when I’ve finished watching a disc, I return it immediately to its red envelope and place it in the outgoing mail. But, I let that last episode sit on the sideboard for a few days. I didn’t want to part with it. I didn’t want to face the fact that the journey had come to an end.
I have a feeling I’ll be making my way over to Amazon one of these days, and I’ll purchase the full series. I can envision it up there on the bookshelf, between and among some of those novels that I know I’ll read again.