Opinion

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Brendan O'Connor: '90pc of the stuff on Netflix is actually crap'

'It's not the golden age of television'
'It's not the golden age of television'

I should really watch Roma, shouldn't I? Everyone says it's such a beautiful piece of art. And I don't even need to go to the cinema to see it.

When you're at my stage of parenting you don't really go to adult films at the cinema because it's 50 or 60 quid on babysitting as a basic fixed cost, and that's before you buy tickets, popcorn etc.

If I'm spending money on babysitting, I need to be doing something better that sitting in a darkened room watching a film and eating junk. I can do that at home for free. If I'm spending money on babysitting I want to do things I can't do at home, like having an adult conversation with my wife.

But of course I don't have to go to the cinema to see Roma. I can just click on it on Netflix. It's sitting there, waiting, this amazing piece of Oscar-winning art.

No babysitting, the parking situation is good, I can eat what I want - for free, I can discuss the movie out loud with other members of the audience (my wife) and I can pause it, perhaps never to come back to it again.

All in all the downside risk of deciding to watch Roma is zero. So you'd think I'd give it a go, wouldn't you? But somehow, the time is never right.

I've even watched Serenity on Sky, which was released on TV the same time as it hit cinemas, and which is being widely regarded as an early contender for the worst film of the year, but which is actually good fun. But somehow, I never sit down and think, "OK, great. I feel like Roma tonight. Let's get stuck into this masterpiece that is sitting here in my telly".

The truth is I'll never watch most of the stuff on Netflix, because, funnily enough, to me, most of it looks like complete s**t.

There, I said it. I'm a fully paid up Netflixer and I watch all the so-called must-watch shows.

But I think if we are to be honest we have to admit that at least 90pc of what's on there is rubbish.

Now don't get me wrong, there's the odd good thing. Russian Doll was a lovely series. And I quite liked Ozark. I loved Master of None. And actually I loved Maniac too. Narcos is reasonably OK. Some of the Black Mirrors are good. I stuck with House of Cards mostly but I couldn't even tell you if the last season has, as they say, dropped yet.

I watched a few seasons of Orange is the New Black, but I kind of lost interest after a while. I think I've missed one, if not two seasons now. Most things on Netflix, I might watch one or two episodes of and then either have a bit of discipline and stop watching - hello Stranger Things or Making a Murderer - or else I'll see it through with grim determination, because I've invested. So I was told I simply had to watch Dirty John. And it wasn't bad for two or three episodes.

But then I basically sat through the rest of them just to get to the end of it, with little discernible enjoyment, getting steadily more impatient.

Then there's another category of things on Netflix that feel like they should be good, but then turn out to be not as good as they seem like they should be. Like The Kominsky Method.

There are lots of other things on Netflix that I feel I should watch or might watch sometime, like The Crown, but the truth is, I never will.

They are there. I am paying for them in some shape or form, and they will remain there, unless I decide to get rid of my Netflix. Which, of course, I won't. Because there is the odd good thing, like with any TV channel.

Does Netflix have a higher proportion of good things than any other channel? Debatable. Sometimes I think what Netflix has is a lot of stuff that is nearly good. It's OK. It's watchable. It's not the golden age of television. It's not going to blow you away. It's grand.

A guy commented to me recently that he was going home to finish off whatever series he was watching on Netflix, "like a dog going back to its own vomit".

I asked him if it was any good. "Not bad," he said before heading off grimly to his task. For me it summed up most stuff on Netflix. Not bad.

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