Netflix is perhaps the greatest thing to come along for home movies since the VCR. The selection is good, it’s easy, you can keep DVDs as long as you like, and it’s even pretty cheap. But there is a downside to the growing popularity of the online DVD movie rental service. I’m talking about Netflix Guilt. How many times has this happened to you:
You put in your queue an art film, a classic, or a foreign film with subtitles because everyone says that it’s so amazing and you have to see it. The film, let’s say The Bicycle Thief, comes in a couple of days along with Big Daddy and Eurotrip. Maybe it’s a Wednesday, so you say, "I’ll save The Bicycle Thief for the weekend." You put the Netflix envelope on top of your DVD player and watch the other two. Then when the weekend comes, you aren’t really in the mood to watch, so you put it off a little longer. Next thing you know, it’s been three weeks and you still haven’t watched it, though you’ve seen every season of Sex and the City as well as Face/Off, Innerspace, and lots of others. Eventually, you can’t take that bright-red envelope mocking you anymore, so you put the disc back into the envelope sheepishly and mail it back, unwatched. (Though you still give it a five-star rating just in case anyone happens to see your rated movies.)
The important thing to remember is that you are not alone. You are not a bad person. You do not need to feel guilty. There’s a very good reason why you haven’t watched The Bicycle Thief yet: It sounds really boring. Sure, it might be great, but do you really want to find out in the little spare time you have in your life? Not when you can watch About a Boy instead. Now, if you still want to pretend that you are going to watch these movies, a good way to avoid Netflix Guilt is to Tivo them. You won’t watch them, but at least you won’t have that red envelope staring at you every time you sit down to watch a movie.