Friends with benefits: a Netflix friendship

Netflix has a way of working itself into some friendships.


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My relationship with my boyfriend's roommate is really…odd. And not because he's seen my stressed-out, hair-piled-on-the-top-of-my-head-like-Ping-from-"Mulan," buried-under-a-mountain-of-Fruit-by-the-Foot-coils mode, or because of your typical Judd Apatow-worthy, not-safe-for-print reasons.

I blame something else. Something that's been there through it all — a subtle catalyst for the development of our strange, yet special relationship: Netflix.

Part One: I am not baby crazy!

I would call it unfortunate timing if it hadn't happened more than once. It was a Friday night and my boyfriend and I had just gotten dinner and decided to see what was on Netflix — the casual beginning to each part of this story. After scrolling through for about 10 or so minutes, we landed on this documentary called "Babies." The documentary follows four babies born into vastly different cultures. We'd both seen previews of this movie, and having been brought up in different cultures ourselves, we decided to watch it. It took about five minutes of twinkling lullaby music for the food comas to set in.

When I woke up about two hours later, the lights were off, the screen was black and the roommate's door was closed with the light on. I was too groggy to think anything of it, but then I thought about the scene as he saw it.

He'd come home to the sight of his roommate and his girlfriend fast asleep on the couch to a documentary about babies. Of course, when I saw him the next day he made some semi-snarky comment like, "What, you too busy sending him subliminal messages about raising children to come out tonight?"

Well, that's just embarrassing and not even true.

Part Two: Stereotypes, stereotypes

You know the drill: Friday night, after dinner, sat down to watch a movie. We settled on documentary about North Korea. The boyfriend had to go to work before the end of the movie, but because I had my own car there, I decided to stay until the end before going home. By the power of Netflix, I somehow ended up watching five or six documentaries in the queue.

Of course, the roommate doesn't come home during the documentary on street art or the one about the food industry (perfectly normal and non-embarrassing documentary topics), he comes home during the one about origami. As if he needed a more stereotypical sight after a long night at Harpo's, I was not only watching a documentary about origami, but my hair was piled Ping-high on my head, and I had fallen asleep (see "Asians sleeping in the library" blog).

Part Three: Finally making progress

Okay, so this is a continuation of Part Two, but let's be real: Things just work better in threes.

I wake up to find the roommate sitting on the couch next to me, transfixed by the paper folding. The documentary ended shortly after, and the roommate didn't really make any motions to get up and leave. So, to fill the silence, I asked if he wanted me to put on another one. I expected him to snap out of it, say no and go to bed. To my surprise, he said yes. So I put on one of the few documentaries I hadn't seen that night — one about sea creatures.

And then it happened.

As the title card bubbled on the screen, he let out a sigh. I looked at him and asked if there was something he wanted to talk about. I don't know if it was the Harpo's or the bluish glow from the movie but he proceeded to spout on about all of his life woes, thus cultivating the "special" part of our strange yet special relationship.

Ordinarily, I'd imagine one would simply nod uncomfortably and try to make a quick exit. However, being the approval-seeking kind I am, and having felt like the roommate didn't have the best impression of me, I just listened, contributing a quip here, an anecdote there. We talked for hours, looking up during occasional moments of silence at the documentary with weird, animated creatures. I don't know about him, but during those moments of conversational silence filled by that classic documentary narration, I wondered to myself: How the hell did I get in this bizarre situation?

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