A lifetime of happiness? No man alive could bear it. It would be hell on earth.
– George Bernard Shaw
A job posting for someone to watch Netflix all day — from the comfort of his or her home, provided that home is based in the United Kingdom or Ireland — surfaced Monday.
The listing reads, in part:
Successful applicants will be responsible for watching and analyzing films and TV programmes that will be streaming on Netflix in the future. The tagger will deconstruct the films and programmes and describe them using objective tags.
Sure, this sounds like heaven. Watch Netflix? For a living? Sign all of us up for that, please.
How little we know ourselves. Think: when do you most watch Netflix? When was it that your friend Karl disappeared for a week and then emerged, blinking, having bingewatched all of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” twice, the second time with subtitles to see if they did anything for the experience?
It was when he was supposed to be studying for final exams. This is always the case. That is, I have always felt, when I do my best Netflix-watching. When I have something else that I should be doing.
Suppose you actually got the job.
Week One: “Hey,” you tell your roommate, looking up from the couch and pausing the stream of “House of Cards,” “looks like I’m not unemployed anymore! And guess what I get to do for a living?”
You open up your Netflix account, and film after film and programme after programme are spread at your feet. All is right with the world. If only there were a job that would give you access to HBO Go without having to surreptitiously use your best friend’s ex-boyfriend’s parents’ login, you muse. Then your life would truly be complete.
It goes swimmingly. A little deconstructing there, a little analyzing here. Once or twice there is a mix-up when you describe a film with a subjective tag instead of an objective tag — “If These Were The Only DVDs My Date Owned I’d Leave Really Quickly” — but fortunately they are able to halt it before it gets too far into the system. Altogether, you feel that you have found your life’s calling.
Week Two: Wow, you’ve watched a lot of TV! You feel pretty accomplished. You wake up and get some coffee. “I guess I’ll finally watch all of ‘Breaking Bad,’ ” you say.
Week Three: You have lost all faith in humanity, but you have some very sharp deconstructions to offer. You have not moved from your couch. Your boss commends you for your wonderful commitment to your job.
“Yeah,” you say, uncertainly. “This is my job.”
Week Four: A friend comes over to watch “Orange Is The New Black.”
“It’s crazy that this is your job,” she says, repeatedly. “You are a professional Netflix watcher. That’s crazy.”
“I know!” you say.
“Are you sure it’s real?” your friend asks. “Are you sure this isn’t one of those false job postings designed to draw people in so that they can be ax-murdered and a stranger can lay hold of their possessions?”
“No,” you say. “It’s not actually too good to be true. I have to watch a lot of TV. That can be hard work.”
She laughs a little too long. “We’ve been watching Netflix together a long time, haven’t we? I remember when you used to watch off my subscription and we binged ‘House of Cards’ the night it came out. Before you went ‘pro.’ ”
You detect a certain hint of something in her tone. It worries you.
Throughout the programme, you catch glimpses of her staring unblinkingly at the TV from a recumbent position, chasing some fallen popcorn with one hand. “What do you think?” she asks. “Do I have good form? Do you think you could casually sort of drop my name with your boss? ‘My friend Jenna,’ you could say. ‘We sort of came up watching Netflix together, and now that I’ve made it big in the Netflix-watching world, I want to make sure that she doesn’t get left behind.’ ”
“Well,” you hedge, “I don’t think these jobs come along a lot.”
She turns off the TV in a brusque manner. “Sure,” she says. “Okay. Sure. No, I get it. I, like, made you from nothing, but it’s cool.”
“It’s fine.” Jenna gets up. “Really. I should go.”
“Hey,” you call after her, “can you turn the TV back on? I need it for work.”
Week Eight: “Can I come over and watch ‘The Killing’?” another friend asks.
“Seen it,” you say. “I have also seen ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,’ ‘Sherlock,’ ‘Dexter,’ ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Lost.’ ”
There is a pause.
“And ‘Lilyhammer,’ ” you add.
“And ‘Trailer Park Boys.’ And ‘Firefly,’ again, of course.”
“Are you still unemployed?” your friend asks.
“No, actually,” you say, feeling strangely hollow. “This is my job.”
Week Ten: A date comes over and turns on your Netflix before you can stop him. You have already seen everything, including “Leapfrog: Let’s Go To School” and “AFV: Best in Boneheads.”
“I haven’t seen ‘OITNB’ yet,” he says. “Do you mind if we watch it?”
You try to smile pleasantly, but it doesn’t really come out that way. A few seconds into the opening theme song (why is the theme song so long?), you are about ready to tear your hair out.
“Can you turn it off, please?” you ask. “I just — can we do something that doesn’t feel like work?”
Week Sixteen: You wake up at noon and heavy a heavy sigh. You have been watching Netflix from bed for the past several weeks. It feels weird to sleep in your office, but you guess that is what you are doing. You have a lot of old television to watch and deconstruct, but this is one of those days when you just don’t feel like going to work. You casually move away from the television and pick up your old Economics textbook. Several hours later, you have powered through 18 chapters and it is 3 a.m. You have to pull an all-nighter just to get through the episodes you needed.
Week Eighteen: You are up against another hard deadline at work, at the end of which you absolutely must have watched all of “Hemlock Grove.” You don’t feel like watching “Hemlock Grove.” Instead, you emerge from the house, take a long jog and catch up with family and old friends. You get sucked in pretty quickly, and the evening ends with you reading to an aged aunt. You apologize profusely to your boss. “I just lost track of time,” you keep saying.
Week Nineteen: Procrastinating on work, you have taught yourself Japanese and learned how to sew clothes. You are also in the process of teaching yourself the violin and really studying for that geography final you were supposed to take six years ago. It is that or watch more “New Girl.”
Week Twenty: Your roommate wants to watch “House.”
“Can we do something fun, instead?” you say.
You have a lot of angry e-mails from your boss about how urgent it is for you to watch “House” that you have been completely ignoring. Instead, you have been reading all of Proust. You are almost finished, because you have been doing it nonstop since Thursday evening, your deadline. You feel kind of guilty, but after you got to Volume V it seemed impossible to stop.
Week Twenty-One: You are fired. You collapse, defeated, on your couch. “Unemployed again?” your roommate asks. You nod.
You open Netflix.