Was All That Time I Spent Watching Netflix Worth It, I Must Know

“Recommended for Sam: SciFi/Fantasy Dramedies with a Strong Female Lead”

The first time that Netflix offered this subgenre on my list of recommended television shows, it was a moment of sudden brilliant clarity, an unexpected realization of something I didn’t know I didn’t know. I mean, I love me some Sci Fi/Fantasy Dramedies without a strong female lead (Merlin, Star Trek, Doctor Who) and I’m all over non-Sci Fi/Fantasy shows with kickass ladies (Revenge, Scandal). But that beautiful, concise phrase encapsulated my television passions and desires so perfectly that I couldn’t help but feel that everything in my life had begun to make more sense.

But then I got to thinking: how did Netflix know? How had they pulled this recommendation from the deep corners of my subconscious? I know they have their “algorithms” or whatever, but had I really watched that so many Sci Fi/Fantasy Dramedies with a Strong Female Lead that Netflix could make such an authoritative suggestion?

Yes. Yes, I had. A quick run-through of all the shows I’d recently watched revealed that I had devoted hours upon hours of my life to watching badass ladies kick vampire/demon/monster ass. I had enjoyed myself, obviously, and I can’t wait to get started on Xena or whatever, but I began to ask myself: is this addiction worth it? What have I missed out on? What have I gained?

To answer this question, I added up all of the time I’d spent watching these series (time cost) and multiplied it by my current hourly rate at work (potential pay lost) (I don’t watch at work, but it’s always good to commodify your downtime). Then I spent some time thinking about what I could have done with that time and that money and what I had gained from these shows.

Once Upon a Time
Total Time Spent: 16.5 Hours/$239.25

Opportunity Cost:
• I probably could have read a book in 16.5 hours. Maybe not an Infinite Jest, sure, but something with a little bulk.
• $239.25 would pay for this pair of Ray-Bans I’ve been eying, including shipping.

Rewards:
• Staring at Prince Charming’s face for a substantial number of those hours.
• Telling anyone in earshot how much I love Gennifer Goodwin’s tiny tiny hair.

 

The Vampire Diaries
Total Time Spent: 49.5 hours (2 days, 1.5 hours)/$717.75

Opportunity Costs:
• 3 hours a week for 16 weeks is an entire semester of ESL classes I could have taught, enriching the lives of others and improving my Spanish.
• A car ride to and from Seattle.

Rewards:
• Fierce Team Damon v. Team Stephen debates
• That moment when Catherine realizes she can totally and convincingly impersonate Elena if she just straightens her hair
• Gratuitous shirtlessness

 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Total Time Spent: 108 hours (4 days, 12 hours)/$1566

Opportunity Costs:
• In 3.5 hours, I could probably bake a cake from scratch. With 108 hours, I could have baked a cake everyday for a month. SO MUCH CAKE.
• $1500 is a pretty solid downpayment for a car, probably.

Rewards:
• The unadulterated campiness of the first season
• The fifth season when suddenly Buffy is a fully developed character and there are so many tears
• MELODRAMA

 

Charmed
Total Time Spent: 132 hours (5 days, 12 hours)/$1914

Opportunity Costs:
• $1914 is about the most I’ve ever had in my bank account at one time.
• If I’d spent 132 hours actively applying for grad school, I’d bet I’d be there by now.

Rewards:
• Deciding whether you’re a Pru, a Piper, a Phoebe, or a Paige is a nice break from the typical Carrie/Miranda/Charlotte/Samantha debate.
• You really get a good glimpse into early-2000’s feminism (“As women we may be governed by our feelings, but we can channel that hysteria into secret powers!”)
• So many parallel-universe or old-timey costume episodes.

 

Conclusion: $4437 in hypothetical lost productivity is a lot, but, hey, it’s hypothetical, so who cares? The wasted 306 hours (almost 13 full days!), though, is a depressing and harrowing figure. I should be more productive! I should get things done! I should change my ways!

I will, too. I swear. Once I get through Fringe.

 

Sam Blackwell lives in Minneapolis.

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50 Comments / Post A Comment

cryptolect (#1,135)

Xena is so worth it, at least until it gets all dark and depressing.

kellyography (#250)

@cryptolect Xena has held up! I re-watched the whole series last year, and was not disappointed. I have re-watched nearly all of Charmed in the past few months. I am not worried about being unproductive, especially because all of my “regular” shows are on summer hiatus, so why not watch an episode or two of Sci Fi with a Strong Female Lead every night?

cryptolect (#1,135)

@kellyography We made our way through Xena over a couple of years by watching it with breakfast on the weekends. Then we tried Hercules, but… there’s a reason why people still talk about Xena much, much more.

bgprincipessa (#699)

Theoretically, giving yourself breaks makes your working hours more productive. (Not just work-work, but any productive time like cleaning or whatever.)
Theoretically.
But then there’s the bottomless pit of addiction. There are always more good shows to watch.
TV shows hook me so much more easily than movies do.

Netflix recommended something similar for me – maybe it was Dramas/Musicals with A Strong Female Lead? I don’t have the app on my phone to check but I have no doubt I have spent many, many hours watching exactly what they described.

@polka dots vs stripes And yes, it is totally worth it.

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

Team Damon.

megsy (#1,565)

I watched Alias. All of Alias. From season 1 episode 1 to season whatever episode the end. In the span of a week or so. I’m sure I could have been doing more useful things, but what I really took away from Alias was the following:
- it’s ridiculous that Sydney was doing missions while noticeably, hugely pregnant
- even in flats, Sydney walked funny
- the plotting became fairly desperate at the end
- anywhere I travel, I am going to end up dead and it’s all Sydney Bristow’s fault.

I find the themes of the show & its release (in late September 2001) rather interesting and I found that I had to remember what the world was like in those early months and years after 9/11. So, that’s partially how I justified watching Alias. It was a study of pop culture. Or something.

Li'l Sebastian (#3,297)

@megsy Oh, buddy, nothing justifies the time you spent on Season 3, the worst season of television ever maybe. I say as a former diehard Alias fan.

megsy (#1,565)

@Li’l Sebastian season 3 was particularly… special. But season 5? Was season 3 really worse than season 5? Was I extra judgmental while watching season 5, perhaps, because I binge watched and by that point I just wanted it over with?

faceifer (#3,162)

@megsy Season 5 was the worst. I basically stopped watching when Vaughn left, and caught the last few episodes when he came back. Had to see how it all ended at that point. It had been SO GOOD in the beginning…

Blondsak (#2,299)

I like to think of Netflix the same way I think of drinking at home: Yes, I am spending time and money to go out and buy booze, but if I couldn’t do that I would instead be going out to the bar and paying way more per drink + time spent traveling. Thus, drinking at home saves me money and time.

Netflix works the same way: before I had Netflix, I was spending ~$10/wk renting out DVDs of Six Feet Under to binge on, and seeing a movie perhaps every other week ($12). I was still doing the thing I enjoy, but at much greater cost.

Bottom line: if you know you enjoy it (whatever it is), you will probably find a way to do it no matter what. So, might as well bask in the fact that at least you have chosen the cheapest route.

cryptolect (#1,135)

So… any Dollhouse fans here? That show had so much potential! I mean, if you ignore the enormous plot holes inherent to the premise.

Non-anonymous (#1,288)

@cryptolect I like Dollhouse a lot! I’m glad it at least got a second season, into which they crammed two or three year’s worth of plot. Compared to Joss Whedon’s other three TV series (so far), I’d say Dollhouse has less compelling characters, but a much more interesting premise than any of the others.

faceifer (#3,162)

@cryptolect Yes, I loved Dollhouse! Liked it better than Firefly even. But not more than Buffy. Never more than Buffy. <3Joss

Niko Bellic (#311)

I watch Netflix *while* I work. It’s a win-win.

Apocalypstick (#3,987)

Depending on the recipe and size, it takes a little over half an hour to bake a cake from scratch.

selenana (#673)

@Apocalypstick Yeah. Maybe an hour if it’s fiddly and you’re making frosting too. Maybe with cooling times? I dunno. It doesn’t take that long.

Apocalypstick (#3,987)

@selenana Oh yeah, cooling time takes a while, but you can make frosting while the cake’s in the oven, or do cupcakes in two batches to cut wasted time and buy the love of all your friends through baked goods.

lakawak (#4,475)

First off…you are a blogger. Your time is worthless. Second of all, NO ONE’S free time is worth the same as their work time. Otherwise, people would have to value a movie at like $80 in order to want to see it. If you COULDN’T be earning that salary when you are doing something, then your time is not worth that. And the vast majority of people don’t have jobs that they can do any time, and as much as they want for the same hourly rate.

I get paid a stipend, so technically the MORE I watch Netflix instead of doing work, the higher my effective hourly pay.

Although, technically if that were true someone who gets paid a salary but doesn’t work (a “job” at a dude’s company to launder his mistress maybe?) makes infinity dollars per hour.

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