Getting Some on The Sly

Adam Cuthbert and Brittny McCarthy have had their bond tested by the siren's call of Netflix, which Cuthbert has heeded when McCarthy isn't around.
Adam Cuthbert and Brittny McCarthy have had their bond tested by the siren's call of Netflix, which Cuthbert has heeded when McCarthy isn't around. "She lacks stamina," he says of her less-than-voracious appetite for movie watching. (By Richard A. Lipski -- The Washington Post)
By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 1, 2007

Kurt Rieschick can't stop cheating on his boyfriend. He knows it's wrong, but sometimes David works odd hours. And Rieschick gets lonely. And those naughty red envelopes are so enticing.

So, occasionally Rieschick sneaks into the media room, with its flat-screen TV and surround sound, and proceeds to break a relationship commandment of the 21st century: Thou Shalt Not Netflix Without Me.

"Seriously, we're supposed to watch 'Buffy' together," says David Klimas, Rieschick's partner of nine years and a real estate agent in Washington. "But I'm still on Season 4, and Kurt's already on 5. I'm going, 'Oh my God! I can't believe what's happening!' but Kurt already knows Dawn is a ball of energy! It's so annoying."

Netflix (and Blockbuster online, premium cable on demand, TiVo, DVR) provides the modern Date Night for the young and the childless, for those with enough unclaimed time to plan evenings around watching movies. Couples in darkened living rooms across the country bond in their sweats, cultivating a shared appreciation for Park Chan-wook. The concept is easy: Unlimited DVDs! Delivered to your house! Waiting for you when you get home!

Waiting for you when you get home. There's the catch.

Because when a pert new envelope arrives, it begs to be opened. Because when it's opened, it might contain -- surprise! -- the brand-new fifth season of "Scrubs." Because your boyfriend works until 8 and it's only 5:30. You'll just watch one episode, you think. He never has to find out. But before you know it, you're having a nightly rendezvous with Zach Braff.

Adam Cuthbert, confessed Netflix cheater, blames his infidelities on his and his girlfriend's disparate Netflix drives: "She lacks stamina," he says. "I'm trying to work down the queue. She has no respect for that."

This is an old argument between Cuthbert and Brittny McCarthy. On their second date three years ago, they powered through the first season of "The West Wing" and decided to watch the entire series together. Before Cuthbert gave McCarthy a key to his Van Ness condo, he gave her something he viewed as even more momentous: the password to his Netflix account.

But then McCarthy, a higher-education lobbyist who moved in with Cuthbert two years ago, started to lose steam on the "West Wing" endeavor. She'd bump other movies ahead of the show in their queue. The series finale came and went, but the Cuthbert-McCarthy household was still stuck in Season 6, wondering whether Jimmy Smits would win the Democratic nomination.

Cuthbert, a photo editor, made an executive decision: Any non-"WW" discs that entered the building would be watched and returned, with or without McCarthy's knowledge, to clear the way for Martin Sheen.

As happens with all cheaters, Cuthbert was eventually trapped in his own web of lies when he referenced "Confetti," a movie he'd watched behind McCarthy's back. "Brittny got really icy, then said, 'Gosh, Adam, that sounds like a fun movie. When did you see that?' "

"It's not like I went all the way with 'Confetti,' " Cuthbert now pleads. "I didn't even watch the director's cut."

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