Mississauga Life — Early Spring 2015
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The Walking Dead
Richard Waterhouse

Netflix is making zombies of us all.

Every morning across this plagued city of ours, they stumble aimlessly out from the doorways of their suburban dwellings. Sorrowful soporific souls, heavy-lidded and brain-dead. Their spouses tearfully watch from the kitchen window as the sorry, shadow of a person they first fell in love with fumbles foggily for their car keys, hoping and praying that one day their partner will awaken from the nightmare that is Netflix binge-watching.

It all starts innocently enough. A dinner party conversation with friends, or perhaps a Monday morning “What did you do on the weekend?” tête-à-tête with Andy from accounts. “Oh, you haven’t seen House of Cards/Breaking Bad/The Walking Dead?” they ask. “Don’t you have Netflix?” they inquire in a tone akin to you not having a flushing toilet in your home. “Don’t you know TV is the new cinema?”

Not wishing to stand out like a blue dot on a pregnancy test, you subscribe to Netflix. After all, $8 a month is less than you spend on Starbucks in a day. You buy an iPad. You may even invest in a smart TV. What can go wrong? The answer, unfortunately, is quite a bloody lot.

Take Mary for instance (her name has been changed for fear of Netflix reprisals), a thirty something accountant with two children. She explains: “It was fine at first. I used to watch the odd rom-com or Steven Seagal film in bed on my iPad. Then my friend introduced me to Breaking Bad and I ended up watching four seasons in a three-week binge. I was lost. Every time an episode ended, Netflix started another one in 10 seconds and I just couldn’t help myself. I knew it had become a big problem when I came downstairs to find that my husband had left me and the kids were eating dog food.”

Mary isn’t alone. Rob is another victim of the visual virus decimating our city’s finest minds. A store manager at a well-known electrical retailer, Rob’s Netflix addiction reached epic proportions late last year. “I had three shows on the go at once,” he explains. “I was knee-deep in season two of Homeland while struggling to keep up with Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. I knew things were out of hand when I received a written warning for taking prolonged bathroom breaks at work to watch TV on my iPhone. I had literally been caught with my pants down.”

Historically, Netflix marathons used to be confined to college students and acne-ridden teens, but its recent spread from dorms and basements into the lives of normal people is having a catastrophic effect on the country’s economy, relationships, and general health and well-being.

According to statistics published by the government, Canadians Under a Netflix Trance or Zombification (CANUNTZ) could account for as many as 1.4 million sick days per annum, costing billions in lost revenue for businesses each year. When you add the damning, unfounded speculation that Netflix is mentioned in one in five Canadian divorce proceedings and has potentially contributed to a 40 percent rise in obesity across Canada, you quickly understand why there is such a pressing need to take these CANUNTZ firmly in hand.

I conclude this exposé with a confession. I too am a victim of this pandemic. Addicted to marathons, my current drug of choice is The Walking Dead, which I’m worried will lead to harder stuff such as House of Cards or Breaking Bad. I find myself falling asleep on the couch at 3:00 a.m. and dreaming of what I’d do in the event of a zombie apocalypse (I’d head up north, my wife wants to go to the sea). I need an intervention. I’ve missed three work deadlines in the last week. I’m seriously thinking of setting up a support group called NotFlix where like-minded individuals can discuss their addiction while avoiding spoiler alerts. Help!

Richard Waterhouse is a creative type, who is currently ploughing through season four of The Walking Dead and in dire need of a good talking to.