Saturday 16 November 2019

Mid-life Crisis - Netflix: the true window to the soul

Have you gone the full Borgen? Sidse Babett Knudsen who plays the show's main character Birgitte Nyborg.
Have you gone the full Borgen? Sidse Babett Knudsen who plays the show's main character Birgitte Nyborg.
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

When I was a kid, we would have tended to judge people by what music they liked. You would check out what bands a guy had written on his bag, or, if you got into his house, what records he had in his collection. And this was how you ascertained if he was people like you or not. In those days, you only really liked people like you. If people liked different music to you they were deemed different, therefore wrong, and therefore the enemy.

Little did we realise back then that the last people you want to be hanging around with are people like you.

There is still an element of the schoolyard about how we now judge each other by our box sets. The big cultural question these days is, How Scandi are you?

It is taken for granted in the D4 circles I live in now that people are into Scandi noir, with its heady mix of nearly good-looking women, really cool but slightly hick-y clothes and grim but mesmeric interiors. But the question is: Are you just The Bridge? Or have you gone the full Borgen? Are you up to date with The Legacy? Were you into the original Wallander before everyone went Nordic crazy.

If the box-set generation keep watching Scandi lifestyle porn at this rate there is a good chance that Nordic with subtitles will become the spoken vernacular in Dublins 2, 4 and 6. Which will leave the box-set generation of these areas unable to communicate with their children, who are all being educated through Irish.

I like to horrify the Scandi set by offering my controversial but heartfelt view that The Killing is essentially The Bill in Swedish, or Norwegian, or Danish or whatever. They hate that. Because The Bill is a police procedural soap whereas The Killing is apparently police procedural art. But then maybe soap plus foreign language equals art? Maybe the Swedes all try and outdo each other with box sets of The Bill. And get one up on each other by saying things like, "I prefer Holby City myself, so gritty yet hypnotic ." "Ah yes, Sven, but have you seen The Vicar of Dibley?"

This is all by way of saying: Isn't technology amazing all the same? Isn't it incredible, for example, how the technology knows more about us than we know about ourselves? For example, if we judge people on what cool TV they watch, then surely Netflix is the true window to the soul. It knows better than I do what I like to watch. because it knows everything I've watched already. It is like a friend who knows me better than I know myself.

So I was thrilled the other day to get an email from the folks at Netflix to tell me that they had added something they thought I might like. I always feel vaguely guilty about Netflix, this huge library of classic movies and TV and quality documentaries that I should be watching but rarely do. Indeed, last weekend, I had an hour or two alone in the house and I determined that I was definitely going to get the value and watch some of this quality stuff on Netflix. I saw lots of quality stuff there, but nothing I actually felt like watching right then. I eventually settled on watching a live show by comedian Zach Galifianakis, whom you will recall as the crazy beardy guy from The Hangover. It was worth it for the first line alone: "My name is Zach Galifianakis, I hope I pronounced that right." He then explained that his name was even more complex than that because he was also, in his middle name, called after his granddad, so his name is actually Zach Granddad Galifianakis. I presumed the Netflix email had news of some highbrow new show. After all, I'm liberal. I watched House of Cards, and Orange is the New Black. Presumably this new acquisition was something hip and modern like that.

I opened the email to be greeted by the news that Netflix has acquired: "The Adventures of Puss in Boots Season 1: The world's greatest feline fighter, lover and milk connoisseur takes on daring adventures in exotic locations in this family-friendly comedy series."

This was recommended based on my constant watching of Horrid Henry and a bizarre Canadian cartoon called Caillou.

That was my reality, driven home to me, in no uncertain terms. Just don't tell the D 2, 4, 6 Scandi crowd.

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