As the wave of cable television and channel surfing subsides, Netflix has grown into America’s new TV. Because of the entertaining allure and originality of Netflix, it has become a cultural phenomenon.
The online streaming medium for on-demand movies and television shows offers a selection of popular programs tailored to viewers’ interests. For a monthly subscription of $8.99, subscribers can watch unlimited movies and shows on devices such as televisions, smartphones, and most gaming hardware. According to MarketWatch, the service “streams more than 100 million hours of video content a day to its more than 65 million subscribers in more than 50 countries” and accounts for a staggering 36% of all American broadband Internet usage.
Besides a customized array of shows that have been culled from cable or broadcast networks, Netflix also features original television series and movies that, in some cases, are trendier than the series on traditional channels. Popular Netflix-produced series include “Orange Is the New Black,” “BoJack Horseman,” “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Daredevil,” “House of Cards,” and “Sense8.” These shows are entertaining and addictive, and many of them also address controversial issues in a manner that is more sophisticated than cable or broadcast shows.
A prime example is “Orange Is the New Black,” Netflix’s best-rating original series. Set in Litchfield Penitentiary, the show features the diverse yet sobering stories of the female inmates and the heartwarming bonds that bloom between them. The show features one of the most diverse casts on modern television, including women of various races, gender identities, sexualities, and physiques, and it tackles topics such as rape, abuse, mental illness, and sexuality in a more open, natural way than cable shows typically tend to cover them. The series has captured the hearts of audiences all across the nation because of its touching reality.
“I’m a huge Netflix fan,” confessed Amy Kim, a junior at Valencia High School, in an interview with JSR. “There are weekends where I just binge watch shows on Netflix all day. Some of my favorite shows on there are ‘Orange Is the New Black,’ ‘Daredevil,’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ [ed. note: “Grey’s Anatomy” is a long-running ABC series syndicated by Netflix].”
Kim continued, “I really like how Netflix offers such a wide selection for you based on the previous shows you’ve watched. It’s how I found a lot of my favorite shows.”
Watching Netflix has become a popular conversational topic among teenagers. It has also sprouted cultural touchstones such as the popular “Netflix and chill” meme, which relates to the apparently ubiquitous practice of teenage boys using seemingly innocent Netflix dates to make sexual moves on their partners.
“I think it’s really interesting how popular Netflix has become… Everywhere you go, you hear people joking about staying at home watching Netflix or what the latest show on Netflix is about or when their boyfriends mention ‘Netflix and chill.’ It becomes odd if someone doesn’t have a Netflix subscription now,” said Jana Obusan, a junior at Valencia High School, during an interview with JSR.
Obusan’s personal favorites include Netflix originals “Orange Is the New Black” and “Sense8,” as well as “Grey’s Anatomy,” USA Network’s 2006-2014 comedy “Psych,” and AMC’s 2008-2013 crime drama “Breaking Bad.”
Netflix’s rise as the dominant form of viewing television and films is yet another demonstration of how the Internet is rapidly changing the ways we consume entertainment.