While waiting out the January lull in Broadway theater … I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix. And getting progressively more exasperated. Five reasons why I’ve decided to bail out of the service:
1) Too many streaming services. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, cable premium channels up the wazoo— how many additions to your cable bill do you really need? Unless you’re a TV obsessive (which I was when I used to write about television for TIME, but don’t need to be any more), you have to draw the line somewhere.
2) Too much crap. The watchword on Netflix is volume, volume, volume. Yes, the service has produced a few quality series (The Crown), backed a couple of decent theatrical films (The Meyerowitz Stories) and brought David Letterman back to TV. But once you get past the marquee titles … what a wasteland of filler! TV series you wouldn’t watch once, much less binge on; stand-up specials from comedians you thought were out of the business; action movies you’d ignore if you found them in the discount bin at K Mart. It’s the digital era equivalent of those B-movie packages that local stations used to buy to fill up their overnight hours — a Hitchcock classic, or maybe two, followed by dozens of Mr. Moto films.
3) Impossible to search. Browsing Netflix categories ranks high on my list of Most Annoying Pastimes in the current digital world. Looking for something? On and on you scroll, through dozens of redundant, overlapping categories: Trending Now, Popular on Netflix, Binge-Worthy TV Shows, Critically Acclaimed Shows, and the inevitable Because You Watched …. What finally tore it for me was when, after a fruitless night of searching for something, anything, to watch, I learned that The Unknown Girl, a Belgian film from last year that I’ve been wanting to see, was somewhere in the Netflix warehouse. Scrolled through all the categories again — nearly 40 of them! — but it was nowhere to be found. Finally I unearthed it via the old hunt-and-peck Search method — but no thanks to Netflix.
4) Impossible to watch. Here’s the real reason I’m fed up with Netflix, and why I think dropping the service is the only morally responsible action for a serious film or TV viewer. Netflix doesn’t let you finish watching anything. The instant the credits start to roll, you get the bum’s rush — hustled immediately to the next show in the queue. Obviously this is a well thought-out policy, Netflix’s Clockwork Orange strategy to keep your eyes glued to the screen. If you’re bingeing on a series, I suppose it could be defensible — plenty of people would rather scoot right on to the next episode of Breaking Bad rather than wait to see who the gaffer was on the last one. But it comes as a rude shock, and a real insult, if you’re trying savor, say, the ending of the “San Junipero” episode of Black Watch, or holding back tears at the finale of Dallas Buyer’s Club. Want to weep for poor Matthew McConaughey? Sorry, just 15 seconds left until a trailer for The Polka King. (I wish that last was a joke, but it’s not.)
5) No exit. Want to end your streaming session? The usual confirmation screen follows, asking whether you’re sure you want to exit the app. On Amazon, the default response is Yes. On Netflix — why is this not a surprise? — the default response is No.
I’m clicking Yes. For good.