Netflix, Amazon, Hulu…And My Exhaustion With Streaming Shows

To be upfront at the start, this is going to be a First World Problem lamentation.  But it’s been on my mind a lot lately and two factors – the sitcom Scrubs and a recent conversation with Jeff – have led me to finally write this post.  So here it is folks, we live in an age where (for those of us with the means and possibility of access) we have thousands of shows and thousands of movies available to be streamed whenever our little hearts’ desire…and I’m kind of exhausted by it all.  I am.  More and more I find myself missing the “old days,” when a TV show was on once a week and you either saw it, caught it in reruns, or it was forever lost to you.  Sure, I missed a lot.  But what I caught I caught because I loved it.

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Ahhhh J.D. and Turk – there’s just no one like you! / Photo Credit – Scrubs

Recently I’ve started rewatching Scrubs for the…who even knows anymore?  The zillionth time?  For those unfamiliar with the show, Scrubs ran for seven seasons on NBC (from October 2001 to May 2008) and then finished up its final two seasons on ABC (from January 2009 until March 2010).  It’s…how do you even describe the most perfect show ever?  Narrated from the perspective of Dr. John J.D. Dorian (Zach Braff), it chronicles the exploits of the medical staff at Sacred Heart Hospital.  It’s this brilliant blend of wacky comedy, surrealist moments, and surprisingly real emotion.  No matter how many times I’ve seen it, certain episodes always make me cry.   I don’t want to exaggerate (which I do at times) so, to be conservative, I can safely say I’ve watched this entire series – from premiere to finale – at least ten times.  That’s not including all the times I’ve watched random episodes either.  Needless to say, I have a relationship with this show.

When I sat down to throw the first disc of the first season of Scrubs into the ol’ Blu-ray player again the other day, as soon as Lazlo Bane’s “Superman” (the show’s theme song) began playing over the DVD menu, it felt like coming home.  Given the amount of time I’ve spent with J.D., Elliot (Sarah Chalke), Turk (Donald Faison), Carla (Judy Reyes), Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley), Dr. Kelso (Ken Jenkins), the Janitor (Neil Flynn), Jordan (Christa Miller), Ted (Sam Lloyd), Laverne (Aloma Wright), the Todd (Robert Maschio), and Doug (Johnny Kastl) over the years, returning to this show always feels like putting on a favorite t-shirt, crawling under a favorite blanket, or sitting down with an old friend and magically picking up as though no time has past.

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“EEEEEEEEAAAAGGLLLEEE!!!!” / Photo Credit – Scrubs

As I entered the halls of Sacred Heart again, I realized I had far more interest in watching these stories again than I had in continuing anything I was currently watching on Netflix.  (Note:  I gave up cable years ago and presently have Netflix, Amazon Prime, and that CBS All Access thingie (for Big Brother) but I don’t have Hulu and I ditched my Showtime subscription once Penny Dreadful was done.)  Talking with Jeff yesterday, he began saying a lot of what I’ve been feeling of late too.

Jeff told me he was watching The Big Bang Theory when his wife asked him why he keeps watching it when he’s already seen all of the shows several times.  He told her, “Until I stop laughing, I’m not going to stop watching it.”  BOOM.  YES.  That’s truth.  And it’s part of why I continually return to Scrubs.  Despite watching it for sixteen years I’ve yet to stop laughing or crying or being affected by what I see.

Scrubs finds itself in a small but elite group of shows, shows I made the conscious decision to invest in the DVD sets of (back when you had to do that to easily relive it).  Scrubs is my all-time favorite but it’s joined on the DVD shelf by The King Of Queens, The Office, Seinfeld, and The Gilmore Girls.  Those five shows, over my life, made the cut.  I loved them enough to want to watch them again and again back before it was an easy thing to do, via streaming services.

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As Turk himself says, “Mothers and daughters…they speak so fast but they speak so true.” / Photo Credit – The Gilmore Girls

Part of what bonds me so tightly to Scrubs is finding it at the right time in my life.  I was in college and, while still a few years younger than J.D., Turk, Elliot, and Carla when their adventure begins in season one, a lot of that show resonated.  Now that I find myself a few years older than they were when the show ended, I still find the same resonance.  I appreciate what I took from the show then and how it speaks to me now.  I began watching Scrubs during a time – my early and mid-twenties – when a lot of important growth and self-definition happens.

But it wasn’t just the timing of when I found the show that’s caused this bond.  It’s also the time I’ve spent with the show, watching and rewatching all of these episodes.  In an age before just about everything was available for streaming whenever we wanted, wherever we wanted, on whatever device we wanted for one low price a month (or several, depending on how many services you subscribe to), that was an intentional move I had to make.  I made the conscious choice to get these DVDs in lieu of other things – whether I paid full price, sale-hunted, or requested/suggested them as gifts.  I invited them into my life.  And, before everything was available to stream whenever we wanted, wherever we wanted, on whatever device we wanted, this meant if I wanted to watch TV when there was “nothing on” these were the shows I’d watch.

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Elliot and Carla have never let me down :). / Photo Credit – Scrubs

Because I loved them so much, I watched them a lot.  Now I feel the opposite problem exists.  It’s not a matter of what shows I’ll rewatch or how I’ll go about rewatching them.  Rather, it’s what show do I want to watch.  There’s just SO MUCH out there to choose from.

I was marveling yesterday, as I FINALLY finished the second season of Jessica Jones, with as much content as is available on Netflix alone I could conceivable never rewatch anything ever again in my entire life and always have access to something new.  The amount of new content grows exponentially with each service you add too.  As a result, everyone can find something they love to watch but there’s also no remotely homogenous TV culture.  I have almost zero ability to be conversationally aware of what my students are watching – let alone family and friends – because there are so many choices across so many platforms that even when people happen to be watching the same thing they’re all at different places in the series.  The simple act of talking about TV has radially changed over the last ten years.  There is so much content out there I honestly feel exhausted thinking about it.  CollegeHumor gets it:

Jeff voiced a similar sentiment when we talked yesterday, saying, “It’s oppressing to start a new series.”  YES!  That was the moment I realized I had to sit down and really write this because that was the perfect word.  There’s so much.  I was excited to dive into the Marvel shows when I finally caved and got Netflix.  But Jessica Jones dropped its second season on March 8, 2018.  I finished it yesterday.  I got a little bored in the middle and it started to feel like homework so I basically stopped.  Luke Cage – which was, by far, my favorite of the Marvel shows – dropped its second season on June 22nd and I have yet to begin it.  Don’t even get me started on Iron Fist season two.  And I feel like I need to watch them all before Daredevil comes back with its third season on October 19th.  Oy.

Say what you want about the “old ways” of doing TV but there was something special about weekly new episodes, at a set night and time.  Sure, you might tune in for a new show but for it to become a part of your week, to take up a specific moment of your already all too finite existence and to do so on a regular weekly basis, it had to be good.  It had to earn that time slot.  Now TV isn’t just fighting for a chunk of my time between 8:00pm and midnight every day.  It’s fighting for any time it can get all day long, along with reading, writing, grading, lesson planning, going to the movies, and time spent with loved ones.  No matter how I try, I can’t seem to find a way to effectively stream a show.

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When I finally got around to it, David Tennant’s cameos were one of the more interesting parts of this season.  Still, there was a lot I forgot and not much internal motivation to finish it. / Photo Credit – Netflix’s Jessica Jones

I mean I STILL HAVEN’T FINISHED STRANGER THINGS 2.  There’s just always something else that wins my time.

I grant part of this is simply a by-product of my age.  Old dogs, new tricks you know.  But Scrubs, The Office, and the others only had to compete for an half hour or an hour each week and, upon winning that loyalty, they – along with The King Of Queens, Seinfeld, and The Gilmore Girls – managed to earn the right to be watched whenever I wanted to because I got the DVDs.  They weren’t something new fighting for a piece of my precious free time.  Rather they were something I already loved and knew was deserving of that time.  And I just can’t figure out how to do this with streaming services.

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As much as I loved my first trip with these guys, when I sit down I keep being pulled back to the coffee shop with Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer. / Photo Credit – Stranger Things

When I sit down to watch TV, do I watch something new (Stranger Things 2 or Black Mirror or Luke Cage)?  Do I rewatch something I’ve seen (Daredevil Season One or The Defenders or Master Of None)?  Do I rewatch something old/classic I loved in my youth (He-Man and the Masters of the Universe or The REAL Ghostbusters)?  Do I watch movies or shows or documentaries??  And WHEN do I watch them?!?  I know this sounds insane – I probably literally sound insane right now.  But when the TV shows fighting for my attention were on from 8:00 to midnight every night, they competed with homework and reading and other things that could fill that time but could also fill other time and, if they were good enough, they won the day.  But now that all new shows can be watched ANYTIME they are always competing with EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE.  As a result, I feel overwhelmed and uninterested in a lot of the new content out there.  It feels like too much work for too little a reward because I can never be “caught up” or “in the know” anyway.  The best I can hope for is someone who happens to be watching the same thing I am at the same time and to be in reasonably the same place in the series.

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The Doctor and Martha Jones, saving and enjoying all of time and space on the reg. / Photo Credit – Doctor Who

Admittedly, it’s not all bad.  I found and fell in love with Doctor Who last year, as I spent September 2017 through May 2018 watching the entire modern run of the show.  Given how expensive the DVDs are, that’s not something I’d’ve been able to find without Amazon.  For me though, the Doctor has proved an exception.  I got so hooked because it was too good to ignore.  I’ve been dying to try Jack Ryan or The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel but it still feels like a chore to figure out when to watch it and how to fit the entire season (let alone all the seasons to come) into my life.

Now I’m not saying I’m going to stop streaming any TV shows or I’m going to give up Netflix or Amazon or anything crazy and extreme like that.  I’m just saying, if you ask me about a new show I’m probably not going to have seen it.  I may see it…eventually.  But as opposed to trying to navigate a thousand options on dozens of services, I think I’m just going to sit down with Scrubs for the umpteenth time.  And when I finish there, maybe I’ll head back to Scranton, PA to see what’s shakin’ at Dunder Mifflin.  It’s been too long since I’ve seen Michael, Dwight, Jim, Pam, Kelly, Creed, Toby, Meredith, Angela, Kevin, Oscar, Phyllis, Stanley, Andy, and Erin.

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No matter how often I see it, The Office is ALWAYS entertaining. / Photo Credit – The Office

Given what prompted this reflection – my rewatching Scrubs and talking with Jeff – I feel the only fitting place to end is with a story.  Jeff (who it’s worth noting, knows and love Scrubs every bit as much as I do (and is the person I call immediately when I can’t remember the answer to any piece of Scrubs trivia) once called and left the entirety of J.D. and Turk’s “Guy Love” duet on my voicemail, expertly singing both parts.  In a tribute to our bromance, he recreated this most epic of tributes to the most epic bromance of all time.  While I no longer have the recording of Jeff singing this to me (sadly), J.D. and Turk’s original will do just fine.  Enjoy!

37 thoughts on “Netflix, Amazon, Hulu…And My Exhaustion With Streaming Shows

  1. Watch Mr.Sunshine on Netflix. It’s a Korean store based around, I want to say, Worl War one. It’s in several languages, so you have to watch subtitles. But it’s a deep storey with a lot of characters. Deep plots and action.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well it didn’t for me…OH! But that was in part because I started watching ‘Doctor Who’ and got hooked on that! I wanted to include how I did find and fall in love with that show only because of streaming but I totally forgot. Now I’m going to have to go back and tweak the post to include this. Thank you Nancy!

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  2. I don’t have Netflix or really watch that much TV in general, but I agree with the sense that having so much available sometimes seems more overwhelming than fun. I don’t have cable either, so I’ve actually been watching some of the shows I do like (Doctor Who!) on DVD when they come into the library (so I’m behind everyone, yeah…), but even realizing I have only 7 days to watch a whole season is kind of stressful to me, and choosing “when to do it” is also kind of annoying. Technically it’s more flexible, but I’m kind of with you that there’s something convenient about knowing “This show is on Thursday at 8pm” and choosing to watch it or not.

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    1. I think I’ve said this to you before but I am SO jealous your library has Doctor Who in it! My library’s DVD selection isn’t very broad but I’m lucky enough to still have two video rental places in town! They don’t have the Doctor, however, but I still love going there for movies. I’ve rarely rented TV seasons from them though because, as you said, the timing seems like it would make it more challenging.

      As to being behind everyone, do you really think that’s a thing anymore? I feel it too but then I think everyone watches everything on their own time frame anyway. Last year one of my students yelled at me for spoiling an episode of ‘Seinfeld’ for her that was over twenty years old! I don’t know if there can be a cultural consensus on what counts as being “current” anymore.

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      1. I moved recently though so maybe my new library doesn’t have it! (I haven’t been able to join yet because I still can’t “prove” I live here or whatever. Grr.) But I’ve also bought at least one season on Amazon because I also don’t have cable and buying the one show I watch is reasonable.

        That’s a good point. I guess you can be behind the super avid fans who watch everything right as it comes out, but you’re right that there will always be a bunch of other people who haven’t watched whatever it is yet either. Hilarious that someone thought you spoiled Seinfeld though! My rule of thumb is that if it’s like 10 years old, you can definitely reference it in public. I only wouldn’t “spoil” it for someone I was talking to whom I actually knew still hadn’t read/watched whatever I was talking about and cared. But I will tweet all the Harry Potter references I want, thank you very much! ;p

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      2. I felt so bad because I spoiled the whole Susan/envelope thing for her and she was like three episodes away from it. She was watching it for the first time with her dad. What bad timing! But I think ten years is more than fair. In fact, I will now cite you the next time this comes up. I’ll be all, “Briana from Pages Unbound says ten years is the line for talking freely about it in public so BOO YAH.”

        As to ‘Doctor Who,’ I just got the entire modern run on DVD for an insane sale on Amazon. I do my best to avoid Amazon whenever I can (and I never really use it for books) but this was too good to pass up so I caved. I’ve included the links for you below if you’re interested in dancing with the devil for some low prices on the Doctor. My local theatre is actually showing the new season premiere (with a few mini documentaries) on October 10th and 11th and I CANNOT WAIT!!! I already have my ticket :). The jury is still out on whether or not I’ll see it both nights…

        Christopher Eccleston/ David Tennant’s run – (https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FDLB3KH/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1)

        Matt Smith’s run – https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FDLBB5S/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

        Peter Capaldi’s run – https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FDLB8BY/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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  3. Watching TV seems so exhausting and stressful to me that I just don’t. Once year I watch the new season of Call the Midwife and sometimes I’ll watch a PBS mini series. (I stopped watching Doctor Who sometime during Matt Smith’s run because I couldn’t take Moffat’s writing anymore.) But I don’t have shows I watch. As a result, I don’t understand a good deal of pop culture and people obviously have no clue how to talk to me once they figure that out. 😀

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    1. Hahahaha, yes I’m sure. Krysta, you’re such a rebel – robbing people of their ability to make casual pop culture allusions when they talk to you! Then you’ll ask them about books and they probably panic and run :).

      All kidding aside, I’d honestly bet your life is more rewarding without trying to chase a thousand shows at once. Also, I don’t know if you heard, but Stephen Moffat’s done with Doctor Who so if Jodie Whittaker’s take is intriguing or if you get the craving he’s out as showrunner and/or writer :).

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      1. I’ve learned not to ask about books. I used to use “What is your favorite book?” as an icebreaker question and a room full of people couldn’t answer because they don’t read. It happened so often I had to stop. Awkward.

        I did hear Moffat had finished! So I might try the show again sometime, but that time is likely to be once my library has the new season on DVD.

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      2. My local movie theatre is showing the new season premiere on October 10th and 11th! I’m pretty excited to see Jodie Whittaker’s take on the Doctor. I already have my tickets and I maaaay be debating whether or not I see it one night or two :).

        The book thing is awkward but it’s also sad! What is wrong with people?? What sort of world are we living in where a room of people couldn’t give you a favorite book? That hurts my heart. I remember, years ago when Joe Walsh’s ‘Atonement’ was released, striking up a conversation after the film with two girls who were in the same showing. ‘Atonement’ is one of my all time favorite novels and, as we talked, the chatting started to turn to flirting…until they both said they’d never read the novel. What??? One said she wasn’t “a big reader” and the other said she “started it and got bored.” Siiiiiiiigh. The magic left the banter at that point.

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  4. YES! I have so many shows I’ve just – abandoned halfway because I can’t focus for some reason or another. (A lot of times it is the direction the writing takes, actually.) But there are some that I want to finish but it just feels like so much WORK. So instead, I go back to watch Leverage over and over again. My go-to show, though Brooklyn Nine-Nine has joined that list now. I haven’t seen the entirety of Scrubs, not in order any way, but I do love the show, and if it makes you happy, keep watching it over and over and over…

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    1. I hadn’t heard of ‘Leverage’ before but I just googled it and it looks fantastic! A modern day Robin Hood story set against the backdrop of corporate corruption sounds brilliant. Wow. What an incredible idea. I’ve seen ‘Brooklyn-Nine-Nine’ a few times and enjoyed it but I can’t say I’ve fully fallen into that world.

      The funny thing about ‘Scrubs’ is if you watch it on a streaming service, the music is different. Premiering in 2001, streaming wasn’t a thing so none of the license agreements they had with the indie bands that are all over the soundtrack included it. When they took the show to Netflix most of those bands passed so much of the music, such an essential part of the show, needed to be changed. The real, original music is only on DVD or the episodes shown on TV in syndication. Haha, WOW. Sorry for the ‘Scrubs’ nerd out moment! I just got really excited/geeky there :).

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      1. I hope you enjoy Leverage as much as I do. There’s a British version of it – I think it came out first – called Hustle that I haven’t seen but is supposed to be good, some people say better, but I’m content with Leverage.

        I had no idea! That is so interesting. Now I’m wondering if any of the other shows I’ve been watching on Amazon Prime have has the music changed as well…

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  5. I’ve blamed my issues on having a kid, but I also haven’t finished JJ season 2, let alone LC and IF second seasons. You’re right about how watching TV had changed; my friends at work and I exchange Netflix recommendations instead of talking about “last week’s episode.”

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    1. Oh my gosh!!! I hadn’t even thought of that! You’re exactly right! (I wish I’d’ve thought of this to include in the post.) I do the same thing. There’s no sharing the experience of watching the show or the episode – it’s predominately recommendation swapping. You’ve blown my mind. Also, this kind of makes me sad too!

      I often think of what watching ‘Stranger Things’ would have been like if it was on once a week instead of being binge-able. Can you imagine all the time spent at work and school with people obsessing over everything, trying to figure it all out?? Of course I watched the first season in a few nights myself too but I still think that would’ve been fun.

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