In a fun search of ‘How did Netflix and Chill actually become a thing?’ I’m reminded of the fateful day Netflix rolled out “The Switch.” Admittedly a marketing flop, the notion of “The Switch”—a Netflix service that dims the lights, sets the mood, puts on your favorite program, and even orders you Tom Kha Kai a la carte—gained cultural relevancy in slang reference, meme, and pretty much every millennial currency imaginable. Its semantic weight was simple: let’s pretend to watch a movie for 30 minutes and then hit the sheets for anything from low-level hand stuff to casual sex.
As a newly single lady, however, and one who’s been beguiled into watching Black Mirror, Bob’s Burger’s, and even The Crown (by my dear PBS-loving Grandparents), I don’t think I should have to gussy up to some guy I met at the laundromat in order to ‘Netflix and Chill.’ So, here’s a quick guide to binge TV and chilling—with your own bad self.
Step 1. Know the original roots of ‘Netflix and chill’
Forget that it’s short hand for hooking up. According to a 2015 Huffington Post article:
“In the innocent days of 2009, ‘Netflix and chill’ really did mean ‘chilling out and watching Netflix.’ It was a solo activity. There you were, sitting on your sofa, the latest season of whatever-it-is buzzing away in front of you, the ‘chill’ part of the equation very much not a euphemism for anything at all.”
Keep this in mind when you ‘Netflix and chill’ solo. Are you doing justice to the root meaning of the term? Are you slashing back the layers of tweaks and alterations that have sullied the phrase into a synonym for sex? Yes, you are. So pat yourself on the back, grab the Cheetos, and settle in on the couch/bed/futon.
Step 2. Channel your inner critic
For all the two-star horror films and cheap documentaries on Netflix, there is some true quality stuff out there. Get into something killer, follow that plot sequence, and step into the mind of the character. Think of it as an act of empathy, or method acting from your living room. Also, if you’re into photography, we’ve got a long list of recommendations.
Step 3. Remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint
Terrible movies and casual sex go together like the best of pairs. It’s what the goofy, lovable and weak-jawed acting roles were made for. In a conspiracy theory I just made up, it’s actually what Kevin James and Adam Sandler were secretly set out to do by the movie industry. No one can sit through an hour and a half of two-cent comedic delirium. No one. Is it any wonder that 15 minutes into the movie viewers are turning to whoever is sitting next to them in desperate plea for distraction? It’s a victory to sit through 90 minutes of ‘fun for the whole family.’ It’s a triumph to reach the credits. I would never wish The Ridiculous Six upon anyone, but if you’re up to the challenge your attention and dedication is truly unsurpassed.
Step 4. Optimize your recommendation algorithm
Although you’re totally cool to hit it solo tonight, at some point you may want to have someone over to chill. Get that algorithm ready. No one wants to see you skipped your way through The Office, denying all sequence and proprietary order, or that you half-assed it only watching half of Stranger Things. Let your algorithm show sophistication and stamina. Alternatively—because you shouldn’t feel like you need to hide Gilmore Girls—you can set up a second account like a real adult.
Step 5. Take no shame in self-indulgence
Wine. Beer. Liquor. Ice cream. Popcorn. Seamless. These are the snacks, or door-to-door service that can endlessly bring you snacks, enjoyable with a partner but also enjoyable by yourself. Think about it: no sharing, no chick you met yesterday caring if you suck on the half popped-kernels and spit them back out, just you and the bowl.
Step 6. Maybe have sex anyway
Just because you’re not Netflix and chilling doesn’t mean you can’t nab a slice. You have standards. You expect a proper date, courtship, at least a drink and some casual gabbing at minimum to deem anything a ‘date.’ After you’ve binge watched House of Cards or gotten deep enough into Friends to realize that Charlie was, in fact, the only developed black character, and does production even value diversity, at all? Feel free to go out with friends or take yourself out for a drink. Everyone needs that sometimes.
Or, take Urban Dictionary’s notion of ‘Netflix and Chill for One’ to heart. I can’t tell you how to do that one.