Published: Sep 12, 2016 12:00:00 PM


Neck-deep in more streamable video than a time-locked Greek god could binge in a gap-year following undergrad, I've discovered the Golden Age of Television's most enjoyable facet is how much conversation it facilitates.

We're seated comfortably, 60 inches of display to pour us some colors and words, and we are paralyzed. It's not simply that there's too much TV out there, that's a problem Uncle Jeff complained about at Thanksgiving 1994 between mouthfuls of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.

No, today, we have too much CHOICE in television. Here's the good news: it's making us talk to our friends and it's making the TV better.

Conversation is the best antidote to Netflix Paralysis.

I've overheard a bit of wisdom: if a TV show is not readily available on a streaming service, it does not necessarily deserve to die, but it does deserve the audience's ignorance of its existence. This means the greatest punishment one can inflict upon a TV show, good or bad, is something worse than indifference: it's disengagement. An incapability to even access the content.

This is because so much of modern TV's success is through word-of-mouth. You arrive at work, or school and somebody mentions, "Hey, have you watched Stranger Things?"

(Stranger Things micro-review: "A childhood memory-transplant.")

You reply honestly, "No, I noticed it pop up on Netflix. Is it any good? Should I watch it?"

This is the best advertising Netflix can hope for. The viewer isn't bombarded by programming reminders during advertisment space on a broadcast network to remind you, potential viewer, that, "This is that show ALL your friends are talking about."

Furthermore, because Netflix provides a god-tier user experience (except for auto-play when reading descriptions), a mere mention from a friend is all the encouragement needed. What's more, you get to watch the show at your own pace while still getting excited for future episodes, hearing tell of what's to come from those who blew through the series in long weekend.

For Netlfix, your friends talking to you about the show is literally all the ad-time the show gets. Since there are a billion and one hours of video available on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and HBO, the only way to parse the potential programming is something your friends recommend.

Everyone still wants to be the one to DISCOVER the tasty-coolness.

Here's the genius of Netflix's model: they've trained a user-base to crave expertise on what's the next tasty-coolness. They've made tastemakers of us all. They've made advertisers of us all. It's what we've always wanted.

We're all drug dealers now, man. There's no greater endorphin rush than being the first to discover The Party. It means you've been correct, longest, which is like getting a very deserved inheritance from a dead great-aunt, leaving your human-trash cousins to rot. When everybody has immediate access to near-identical cache of programming, you have two jobs as a viewer:

  1. Field recommendations
  2. Distribute recommendations

It invites the most engaging programming into the discussion. It leaves the inaccessible out to die on the vine, for better or worse. It encourages you to share discoveries with friends.

It's a lovely relationship with your entertainment choices.

-- Alex Crumb
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