My Relationship with Netflix During the Pandemic
As I write my first article on Medium from India, we are facing a COVID catastrophe which has been the result of complacency. Staying indoors over the past few months has increased my screen time and made Netflix cement its status as one of the most essential services in my life. Binge-watching is one of my fortes and a common thing on the weekends. My speed would generally be around 12 episodes / weekend (average episode time of 50 minutes). I have also gotten closer to my parents because we end up consuming the same content regularly. We can now joke about embarrassing stuff which was earlier a taboo. To simply put, my parents have become more “chill” lately.
These shows on Netflix have had an impact on the way I look at things and have made me more of a global citizen than I was a year ago (not to take away the fact that the pandemic has left everyone in the same boat). The few shows that I saw during this pandemic -
Schitt’s Creek (Comedy) — Hands-down the biggest find of 2020 for the Quarantiners. This turned out to be Friends 2.0 and probably the most therapeutic watch of the decade. An unorthodox riches to rags storyline of the Roses family gave people some sort of hope that things may hit rock-bottom, but they will always open doors for something better. From being the least empathetic people, the Roses navigated to showing that the smallest act of kindness doesn’t cost a dime. Long-time running jokes of the series would be the large menus of Café Tropical, Alexis’ “Ewww, David”, Moira’s “bébé”, Bob’s wiggly entry style, etc.
A ton of things to take away from this show but I will list a few-
- People will love you irrespective of your shortcomings: The show teaches us the idea of inclusivity and being free of labels. Everyone at Schitt’s Creek is welcoming and understanding.
- Enjoy your fashion: An “IDGAF” attitude is seen by a lot of characters — Moira’s wigs, Johnny’s suited attire to clean drainage, David’s high-fashion clothing, or Stevie’s all-time casual look.
- Being open-minded: The Roses had never dreamt of spending time at a creek after throwing a 500-people party at their mansion every Christmas. Alexis and David had other plans until the very last season but ended up choosing what made them happy. So you never know what would make you happy in the future.
- First impressions are not everything: Johnny and Moira did not have the best of interactions with Roland and Jocelyn but they ended up becoming best friends. Johnny took the town’s side in front of his old rich friends and Roland came forward to help in numerous circumstances without any strings attached.
- Normalising LGBTQ relationships: No other show has been able to portray the true relationship of the community till date. The storyline is not at all about the David’s and Patrick’s affection for each other they turns out to be the epitome of love.
Wild Wild Country (Documentary) — Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s ‘free love’ commune in Oregon’s Rajneeshpuram affirmed the importance of both work and love. Ma Anand Sheela who was the right hand of Bhagwan and the spokesperson of the Rajneesh movement. The follower turned fugitive carried out the then largest bioterror attack, largest wiretapping, and pleaded guilty to attempt to murder. Her extreme love towards Bhagwan had devoid her of normal traits of humanity. She can be called the rotten apple of the commune who hampered the growth of the movement for personal gains. However, the thoughts floated by Bhagwan in the 1970-80s were way ahead of his generation. Celebrating the ups and down with a smile was a common culture for the cult.
“A little foolishness, enough to enjoy life, and a little wisdom to avoid the errors, that will do” — Osho
Surprisingly, I was based out of Pune for over 2.5 years and passed the Osho Ashram several times to dine at the posh locale of Koregaon Park. Only after I saw the six parts of WWC, I realized the importance of this red robe community and how devotion to a religion blinds you from seeing the truth. However, his devotees still carry forward his legacy which would not be possible if the magnitude of dedication was any less. Osho’s popularity grew after his death and his books are widely read by millions of global readers.
La casa de papel a.k.a Money Heist (Action) — I have been watching this show for the past few years but was pretty stoked about its Part IV release during the lockdown. Things looked funny in March of 2020 and Money Heist was one of the few things to look forward to in the next month.
The Professor arranged the heist as an indication of affection for his dad. However, he found his family in the gang he built. Previously, the bunch were lost, lacking self-belief and doing the wrong things in life to survive. Their misery and vulnerability connected them and helped them gain the trust of each other. Also, sometimes having a common enemy/friend also makes the bond stronger. Arturo Roman was a common pain in the ass for the members of the gang. And money was the common source of happiness.
Kim’s Convenience (Comedy) — This business-savvy Korean family tells you all the stereotypes you need to know about Asians. This show talks about representation. Why it matters? How it gives people a voice? What makes other people listen to that voice? And it does hit the nail on the head most of the time.
Janet shows that the 20-year old in this generation would be very different from the 20-year old from their parent’s generation. It is very normal to say that the 20-year old in the next generation would be way more forward than our gen and we need to be better positioned than our parents to accept that. Jung, who ran away from home cause he was unable to meet his “Appa’s” expectations, was someone who is not looked up to in Asian society. “Umma” tries to keep the family knit together even after all the differences in ideologies. The show focuses on how reforming the relationship between the two men is a slow and uncomfortable process, but one that is nevertheless necessary. Pursuing an Arts degree or working at a car dealership are the last places where Asian parents would want their kids to be. Parents see their kids as investments and believe the return from working in these fields would not justify their outlay. However, this family slowly drifts from orthodox notions to accepting doing what one loves.
PS: The final season of Kim’s Convenience will premiere on Netflix on June 2nd. Also, Simu Liu a.k.a Jung is starring in the First Asian Superhero Marvel production “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”.
Bling Empire (Reality) — A reality show which revolves around the 0.000001% of the Asian population in Beverly Hills which capitalizes on the success of “Crazy Rich Asians”. These Asian Americans are the wildly wealthy folks of LA going to fabulous parties every week. The key takeaway I found from this show is that it does not matter how much money you have, you can’t buy knowledge or happiness. Irrespective of the money in their bank accounts, Anna has been divorced four times, Kelley is in a toxic relationship, Christine finds it tough to have a baby, Cherie is sick of her 5-year old boyfriend who is not ready to propose to her, etc. Nevertheless, these folks try to put up a show and discuss their good problems openly. You need to decide which money quote hits you differently —
“Money may not buy happiness, but I’d rather cry in a Jaguar than on a bus.”
“Money can afford you Botox, but it cannot prevent aging or death.”
Too many options and resources complicate your life more than it needs to. Irrespective of their deep pockets, everyone is trying to be good in some or the other way, but that might just be the show’s attempt to infuse that millionaires have a soul too.
What’s wrong with Secretary Kim? (Romcom) — A friend who is a BTS fanatic pushed me to start watching this K-drama. Not sure why I selected this one but it revolves around a romantic office relationship between a perfect but narcissistic second-generation business heir (Lee Young Joon) and his workaholic secretary (Kim Mi So). The boss is left in shock after his Secretary decided to resign after nine years of service to find purpose in life. Mi So is an example of a woman who smiles every time but she only masked her pain behind that smile and keeps it to herself.
There is not much to get out of romcoms but one thing to understand is when you fall in love, no matter how evil, egoistic, or rude an individual you are, you change completely to make yourself a better version. The Vice-chairman realizes the importance of his secretary only when she is about to leave him. This is a very common thing in everyone’s life to undervalue the things they already have. People do not treasure things until they are about to lose it / have lost them.
“Korean dramas tend to focus on the romances that the characters experience within the story, however, there is always a parallel narrative that shows us what lies beyond in their lives.” They are highly dominated by genres like romcom and high school love. We are seeing an upward trend in the K-Drama fanbase as they include more genres. Fans of Money Heist and K-drama can brace themselves for a Korean version of the Heist coming out this year.
Bir Başkadır a.k.a Ethos (T-Drama) — The new series from Istanbul is a hidden gem compared to what you usually find on streaming platforms. This show presents a variety of characters, an affluent but depressed casanova, a soap opera artist, an ex-soldier, a rape survivor, and a teacher and his gay daughter, all of whom are somehow connected through Meryem, a young woman who is equal parts spunky and shy.
The importance of therapy is highlighted when Meryem’s psychiatrist, Peri, who is a typical ‘white Turk’, educated in the finest schools, is in the need of therapy herself since she is unable to justify the ongoing society norms. Meryem’s words have touched her, counter-attacked the therapy session, and made her feel helpless even after all the education she has received abroad. However, the story mainly revolves around Meryem who shows the ability to withstand her interpersonal problems and still tries to dance it off when things go down. This show has not attracted a large fanbase but touches some of the deep points in the society which no one ever talks about.
On Becoming a therapist: “Always remember that for each patient you see you may be the only person in their life capable of both hearing and holding their pain. If that’s not sacred, I don’t know what is.”
There were a few more top shows which I watched on Netflix during the virus hit times -
- Drive to Survive —The whole drama involved behind a two-hour F1 race. This one would definitely make you a racing fan
- The Queen’s Gambit — Calling all chess players and more. I’m sure we all have a crush on Beth Harmon
- Mad Men — I saw the whole series for the second time last year and tops to be one of my favorite dramas. In awe of the class displayed by Don Draper
- Too Hot to Handle — I found it more funny than sensual. It's entertaining to watch this reality show with friends
- Tiger King — Yes, people like Joe Exotic & Carole Baskin do exist which is why America is not perfect
- Friends from College — A Harvard degree does not mean that your life will be perfect
Apart from the content of these shows, the direction is top-notch, justifying Netflix’s current valuation of $250bn. So for those who are unable to travel and explore, Netflix is absolutely a viable option to understand different cultures, geographies, and much more. I do list a few cliché life lessons above, but they are always better when visualized than read in a book.