This past Wednesday I went to the mailbox to retrieve the week’s DVDs. Along the bottom of their iconic red envelope, Netflix noted that they were celebrating 25 years in business.
I know what you’re thinking…Netflix is 25 years old?
I can’t believe it either.
Okay, okay, I know that’s not what you’re thinking, so let’s just take a little digression, shall we?
Yes, Netflix still sends physical DVDs through the mail in addition to their streaming business. And yes, I am a subscriber.
I don’t know for a fact that I’m not the only one, but I doubt Netflix is keeping the DVD warehouse open just for me.
Hear me out before you write me off as a luddite. Streaming is great. Within the past month between Hulu and Netflix I’ve streamed Big Little Lies, several choice Gilmore Girls episodes, The Dropout, and a good chunk of Parenthood.
In addition, friends have assured me that I absolutely-must-drop-everything-right-this-minute and watch Stranger Things, Virgin River, Firefly Lane, and Love Life.
I also happen to be behind on Outlander and The Crown.
There’s no better way to consume television shows than by streaming.
If you love good movies, in particular ones made before 2000 (and definitely ones from the 1940s) your streaming selection is pitiful.
Seriously. Go on Netflix and try to find a film you love made before 2000. I’ll wait.
I think I’ve made my point. Let’s move on, shall we?
You know where you can find a great selection of old movies?
I can order classics like Citizen Kane (1941), The Godfather (1972), and All About Eve (1950). Film buff favorites like The Red Shoes (1948), and A Day in the Country (1936). And plenty of obscure films from the 1930s and 1940s.
I can get Hitchcock films, Julia Roberts films, Tom Hanks films, Cary Grant films….
And I can’t get theater releases immediately, but while you’re paying $19.99 to watch the latest blockbuster at home, I’m getting it as part of my regular subscription service 3 weeks later.
It’s a movie buff’s best kept secret.
So can we get back to the 25 year anniversary?
I still remember buying my family (and myself!) a gift subscription for Christmas in the late 1990s. At first it seemed silly—why did we need DVDs delivered to the house when we could just go down to Blockbuster and rent whatever we wanted?
Why bother dragging out the computer just to order up a film?
Order on the phone? Get real. Twenty-five years ago my phone was still attached to the wall.
But even back then, the selection was what set Netflix apart. You could get foreign films, documentaries, Oscar nominees, classics, and cult favorites that your local rental shop may or may not stock.
And it sure was nice to never have to worry about rental fees. Or zoom down to Blockbuster to return a film before midnight.
Netflix started streaming in 2007, but it wasn’t until 2013 that they dropped the entire season of House of Cards on the same day. I didn’t watch Cards, but I did watch their second offering, Orange is the New Black. The idea that you could watch an entire season at your own pace—which for many people turned out to be all at once—was revolutionary.
The binge was born.
For better and worse, it changed the way television is made and consumed.
The main problem with television shows is that no matter how promising they begin, they all go on too long and end with a fizzle instead of a bang (feel free to note exceptions in the comments.) It’s the nature of the beast—if you make a good season, people want another.
But a tight, well made film can reach perfection from beginning to end.
I’m not here to shill for Netflix and this isn’t a paid advertisement.
I just want to wish them a Happy 25th Birthday.
Time flies when you’re having fun.
Thanks for the flicks.