Netflix giveth, Netflix taketh away
I was going to write something else today. However, since my blogging time has been adversely impacted due to circumstances that you will understand presently, I am forced to pen this letter to a certain streaming movie service instead.
First of all, let me take a moment to thank you for the excellent service you offer. I have often thought that your wide selection of streaming movies and shows is the sole reason that I am able to cook dinner each evening. My husband once suggested that we cancel our account in a brief and very unfortunate spasm of hyper-frugality, and I thought that I was going to have to resort to feeding my children by trough. Also, you should know that I totally had your back with the Qwikster debacle. Every time @Qwikster did another update taking about how he wanted to “spark up a bowl” because he was “bored as s**t,” I would do a facepalm of solidarity and think that that is totally something that would happen to me if I ran a company.
But there is one matter that has been troubling me for some time now. For years, I have suffered in silence on this issue. But something happened this morning that pushed me over the edge, and now I must speak out.
Let me start by telling you a bit about my two-year-old daughter. Her favorite pasttimes include hitting her siblings, dumping things out of boxes, pouring hand soap into her hair, writing on non-paper surfaces with markers, and throwing food on the floor at mealtimes. “Sounds like typical toddler behavior,” you probably just said. Perhaps it is. But what you have to understand that she does not do these things occasionally; it is her preferred way to spend all of her waking hours. All of them, Netflix. She is like a robot who is programmed for chaos and destruction — a very cute robot who also likes to give hugs and kisses, but one that is bent on destruction nonetheless.
She is my fifth child. I used to chuckle that my other four children were “into everything” at that age, and now when I think of that I throw my head back in bitter, bitter laughter as I realize that I had NOT THE FIRST CLUE what that phrase really means. She also has an almost supernatural ability to be loud, and when she doesn’t get her way, she launches into a 110-decibel scream that she can carry until my eardrums begin to crackle, and my only relief is to imagine that God has big plans for her to be an opera-singing dictator.
Unfortunately, enforcing rules such as “no stabbing mommy’s printer with a fork” and “don’t take off your diaper and throw it at people while you’re standing on the table” elicits these minutes-long screams, and, long story short, the Alcohol section of our monthly budget is getting a little higher each month.
Here’s where you come in.
In a turn of events that will undoubtedly be the driving force behind my cause for canonization, this child is about to drop her afternoon nap, which means that my only respite from the eardrum-wearying insanity is when she’ll snuggle up with me and her blanky in front of the TV to watch her favorite show in the whole world, Shaun the Sheep, on Netflix. Imagine a snake charmer taming a feisty king cobra into dazed submission, and you begin to have an idea of the impact that this show has on her and the importance of its role in this house.
And I found out this morning that you killed the snake charmer.
At approximately 10:38 AM, I turned around from getting my coffee to see said two-year-old scribbling on the baby’s forehead with a black Crayola marker. When I tried to take the pen from her, she reacted as if it were an appendage of her body that I was attempting to steal. By the time she got out of the time-out corner (which she seems to see as the corner where you see just how loud you can wail and shriek “WHEN I GET OOOOOUT!!??” over and over again) my will to live was just about gone. I desired to clean the marker off the baby’s forehead without being interrupted by new battles (I have the kind of life where that kind of thing can be the highlight of one’s day), and so I turned to Shaun.
I entered a search for his name. And instead of the image of the mischief-loving sheep, which never fails to elicit in me a pavlovian response of unadulterated joy, I saw this instead:
I’ve spent the past half hour trying to decide whether I’d describe my reaction more as one of “rage” or “abject despair” (mixed with some concern for England — what’s going on over there, guys?) I did have a fleeting moment of naive optimism when I made a cheery pitch for Timmy Time instead, pointing out that it also has a main character who is a sheep. Alas, when my daughter toddled over to the TV and punched Timmy’s face on the screen, I knew that life as I once knew it was over, and that I had been thrust into a terrible new Shaun-the-Sheep-less existence.
You did this before with Dora the Explorer, and I didn’t complain. I wasn’t happy about it, but it didn’t cause me too much of a problem since my four-year-old says she doesn’t like “all that Spanish talkin’” and wants to watch only programs that use “real words” (we’ll be adding a multiculturalism component to our homeschool soon). I only muttered a few grumbles when Downton Abbey suddenly was gone, since I knew I could track down new episodes — I would find and watch that show if the only place it were available was on one television in a yurt in Turkestan. But now Shaun has disappeared too, and I’m reaching my limit. If Breaking Bad goes away, I will riot.
You got us hooked on these shows, and now you have a duty to keep them going. And I don’t want to hear about how Amazon out-bid you on the rights. Did you see that movie Inception, where the guys hacked into a CEO’s dreams to get him to change his mind about a business decision? You know where Jeff Bezos lives. Think outside the box, people.
Look, I’m trying to be a loyal customer here. I don’t want to switch to Amazon for my babysitting-by-glowing-screen purposes, if nothing else because it will only be a matter of time before I get an email saying Your order of “Barbie Princess Mansion with Functioning Hot Tub” and “Turbo Off-Road Four-Wheeler” has shipped! All I ask is that you protect your children’s programming like it’s the life-and-death issue that it is, and you can count on my business forever, even if you occasionally have to yank an adult show (except for Breaking Bad — seriously, do not touch it). At the very least, if you absolutely must remove a children’s show, I beg you to give us 90 days’ notice, resources for counseling, and a gift certificate to Care.com so that we could find alternative childcare arrangements.
As I type this, my husband suggests that perhaps you didn’t cancel Shaun the Sheep, but removed it only from our account because we passed some kind of 10,000 plays limit. If that is the case, please have a customer service representative contact me immediately about upgrading my account. In the meantime, I’ll be sitting here on the couch while my two-year-old repeatedly hits me and yells, “SHAUN SHEEP!!!!”
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter,
Jennifer FulwilerNew here? Take a moment to introduce yourself, or say hi on Twitter at @conversiondiary.