It’s true. We’re taking the ‘chill’ in Netflix too literally.
The Wall Street Journal has revealed the results of its survey of 1,000 people’s binge-watching and sex habits. One in four people said they’d chosen watching TV over having sex in the last six months, and among 18 to 38-year-olds, that figure rose to 36%.
Is streaming video responsible for America’s falling fertility rate? asked the newspaper, dubbing it the new birth control. Netflix, taking advantage of a great PR moment, released a statement: “We take pride in being part of the cultural zeitgeist, but a decades-long decline in sex is beyond even our programming abilities.”
But it’s true: Netflix is ruining my sex life. It’s definitely Netflix, incidentally, and not our uncomfortable mid-century modern sofas that only hold one adult. And it’s not even the 8pm exhaustion after a day of work and parenting.
Here is the proof: almost a decade ago, when my husband and I were first dating, we had loads of sex – sometimes with each other – and back then, Netflix was just a dwindling DVD postal subscription. Now, it’s the gold-standard of streaming – 80 million households watched its thriller Bird Box when it was released – and zero sex is happening. I’m no mathematician, but even I can see the numbers add up.
Of course, it’s not Netflix (or any of its rivals) that’s really at fault. No one’s forcing us to cycle through the various streaming services to find the entertainment we want or to binge-watch episodes before anyone can spoil them on social media.
But, the problem is that the TV is still the focus of most living rooms – and now every single thing on the screen is put there intentionally. Before the age of streaming, opportunities for intimacy in front of the TV were forged during adverts and those mini-news broadcasts that broke up movies on ITV. My husband and I had our first kiss during a late showing of Jaws 4.
This was back when, if you wanted to watch a film you’d actually chosen, you had to leave the house and rent the DVD from a shop – and binge-watching meant recording a programme week after week then calling in sick to inhale it all in a day.
Had we been, instead, plonked in front of Game Of Thrones, we’d have been focused on the screen and not each other, because GOT is Important Television, and also because to take your eyes off it for one second is to instantly forget every character’s name. Our story would have gone very differently. We wouldn’t have got together, our sons wouldn’t exist, and now I guess I’d be writing about how much sex I’m not having with someone else.
I think perhaps we need to reinterpret ‘Netflix and chill’ in a more literal form. We need to remember that we won’t die if someone tweets the ending of Ozark.
We could also try the Netflix film Fireplace For Your Home, which turns the TV into a romantic, crackling fire for 60 whole minutes. The next time Netflix is cramping your style, turn it on, crack open a bottle of wine, and let the magic happen.