Family finances may be tight, but there’s no way we can give up on Netflix
During a recent bout of gastrointestinal distress, I had time to reflect on how Netflix truly is one of the wonders of the digital age. If you told me as a teenager that in the future you could watch a show on TV, hit pause as you rush to the bathroom doubled up in cramps, then resume watching the exact same show at same place on your phone while on the jacks, I would have told you to please stop using such weird illustrative scenarios.
In fact, I probably wouldn’t even have heard you because I would have desperately tried to program a VCR to record the 10 minutes of free crap that appeared on multichannel around midnight, but you get the idea.
Netflix, like all streaming services, is a miracle; albeit increasingly expensive – €20.99 per month for our all-sing, all-dance, and occasional buffering plan, making Disney+’s jump from €69.99 to €89.90 per year looks tiny. But the rising cost of living has turned us into forensic accountants, scrutinizing every exit, obsessing over anything that can be cut.
There can be no waste – this is the mantra that caused me stomach problems, having chosen to eat my eldest son’s lunch when he came home from school intact. Like anyone growing up in the 1980s, I understood that you don’t waste food – Trócaire boxes in the middle of the kitchen table to watch Live help on TV, food was something you didn’t have. Of course, it never occurred to me that eating a ham and cheese mayonnaise that had been sitting in a teenager’s schoolbag in a hot classroom for several hours might carry the same risk as eating a bat-stuffed pangolin, but I wasn’t just going to throw this away. It would be a waste, and we are particularly in lean times. Instead, I saved a total sum of around a euro and gave myself food poisoning in the process, enjoying two days of Netflix and chills.
While I’m happy to be a human composter to save a few cents, Netflix is a luxury we can’t do without, as it has become so central to family life. The youngest is halfway through 14 seasons of ninjagonext features old Nickelodeon shows, teenage son searches for ways to build a criminal empire in breaking Badand the 19-year-old watches endless reruns of Chef because she loves to cook (I hope they do a spin-off about cleaning up after cooking so she can learn a bit too).
What makes Netflix so essential is how it can act as a panacea – you can throw your phone in the back of the car on long drives and say, just watch something about it, and they will do. There was a big outcry when I suggested we might have to cancel it, given that it’s now costing us over €250 a year. In itself it’s not too much, but taking into account all the other packages, it’s quite the sum – the annual license fee of €160, Disney’s €89.90 per year and Jeffrey Bezos’ $9.80 per month for Amazon Prime.
We switched to streaming services over satellite TV because we thought it would save us money, and yet we spend hundreds a year on TV. Something had to go, so it was always going to be Prime. The only thing we looked at was Reacha show about a sensitive Easter Island chef who circles around bloody justice and monotonous one-liners, so cutting down Prime was an easy call.
Next on the chopping block will be Disney+, because as much as I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe and star wars (happy Star Wars Day, by the way) no one really watches it but me. But Netflix? You can have it when you pull it out of my clammy, tight, clammy hands as I writhe in agony from my latest battle to save money with leftover food.