How to make the most of Netflix

Thursday, November 21, 2013

After audience testing revealed an overwhelmingly negative response to 2013's working title, 2013: Worst Year Ever, I've decided to rename it 2013: The Year of Netflix. Because when I haven't been whining about how it's been the worst year ever, I've been watching a scandalous amount of television to make my mind off how it's been the worst year ever. As you can see, it's been working really well.

After nearly a year of practising this questionable avoidance technique, I now consider myself something of an expert in consuming mindless, repetitive hours of American TV. If you'd like to become an expert too, here's how.

1. Get hooked up

Unless you have one of those fancy TVs with Netflix built in, you'll be watching it through your computer. Watching TV on the computer is all very well if you're having a particularly bad day and just want to watch the entire second series of Dawson's Creek from the comfort of your own bed (no judgement), but for everyday viewing, I recommend getting a cable that hooks your laptop up to your TV. They're cheap, easy to set up, and make it so much easier to poke fun at Dawson's terrible hair.

2. Become an American

Or, rather, let Netflix think you've become an American. If you're in the UK, you need to sign up for a UK Netflix account (it's £5.99 a month). The trouble is, UK Netflix is fairly new and, frankly, it's a bit crap. American Netflix, on the other hand, has a huge bank of amazing programmes and films just begging to be watched. If only there was a way to access it... oh, hang on, there is.

You'll need Google Chrome for this, but I promise it will change your life. Or, at least, your viewing habits. Install the Hola Better Internet Chrome extension and you can cross the Atlantic at the click of a mouse. Thanks to the magical power of the internet, it lets Netflix think you're watching from America, giving you direct access to all the unimaginable wonders our American cousins take for granted. The best part is you can turn it back off again should you want to access UK-only content (some shows only seem to be available over here, like The Fall or, weirdly, the Hobbit).

3. Watch all the things

Right, down to the nitty-gritty. Here are my top Netflix picks, which you should all watch immediately so we can talk about them:

Parks and Recreation: Endearing, characterful, so funny it will make you snort. 

House of Cards: Worth watching for Claire Underwood's hair alone.

Mad Men: Essential viewing if, like me, you missed it first time round. Slick, stylish, smouldering. 

West Wing: Duh. We have big plans to watch all the Christmas episodes in one giant festive slob-fest. I am excited.

Sherlock: With the new series imminent, it's time to remind yourself of the brilliance of Benedict Cumberbatch. (Or Bernard Cumberbosh, as he is affectionately known in our house after Fin couldn't remember his name. Generate your own alternative here.)

So there you have it! Now you too can give up that pesky social life and spend all your time watching television series several years after they were made. Hurrah!

I'm also dangerously close to running out of episodes to watch, so all recommendations for new shows will be warmly welcomed in the comments. 


Images of Emily Henderson's living room, a.k.a. my dream Netflix-watching environment.

19 boats moored

  1. KIRSTY!!!! Christmas West Wing marathon!!!! That is GENIUS. You have literally* just solved our giant Christmas indecision. Fuck all the various family members we can just spend all day on the sofa with the Bartlets.

    Thank you.

    I'm sorry 2013 has been wreaking its misery north of the border too. It's known down here as the big bag of bollocks year. X

    *really really.

    1. I'm sorry you've been having a rubbish time. Bring on 2014, I say!

  2. Netflix is the present I have promised myself as a baby feeding bribe. I cannot wait - is it bad to be way more excited for Netflix than for bringing new life into the world? Anyway. The shows I have in the back of my mind for then are:
    - The Newsroom (also Aaron Sorkin, but in the world of journalism)
    - Treme (post New Orleans Katrine, written by the same people who wrote the Wire but with music)
    - The Good Wife (lawyers, great suits)
    - 30 Rock (because I always find it funny on planes and also I love Alec Baldwin's face)
    - Veep (Julia Louis Dreyfus, more American politics, Iannucci)
    - Boardwalk Empire, because people say its great

    1. I didn't know you were having a baby, congratulations! Totally not bad. Netflix is veerrrry exciting.

  3. Planning to get Netflix after Christmas and hibernate for most of January and February with boxsets. My only issue with this is when Ross and I watch a programme together and one of us dares to do something out of the house the other has to wait. And I get impatient if that person is me!

  4. WW is a great choice for Christmas. I've done a rewatch at Chrissie several times and it works really well! Probably because the Christmas episodes are really great, Bartlet for America being my favourite.

    Friday Night Lights may well be my show to rewatch at Christmas this year. Or possibly Mad Men.....I love any excuse to rewatch Mad Men.

  5. Oh you have to watch Orange Is The New Black, it's SO GOOD. (Hello by the way, I love your blog but this is my first comment, yikes!)
    Alice x

    1. Hello! Welcome! I love it when people de-blurk :) I watched the first episode of OITNB but we had too many other shows on the go at the same time, so I thought I'd better save it for later. Thanks for reminding me!

  6. I mostly use Netflix for skateboarding related documentaries (seriously) and comedy. I recently got hooked on Masters of Sex though - not sure if it is on Netflix yet though.

  7. Breaking Bad and for a bit of light relief, Modern Family - it's brilliant. I have one of those Christmas special slob fests planned and I literally cannot wait!

  8. Ah ha! So im not the only one who figured out the hola fix! all the way in little ol' netflix-less New Zealand. Also there was a glitch when i signed up and i never have to pay a cent. Woop! (im not paranoid they are going to see this and bust me!)

  9. Thank you so much for the fix!! Someone had told me existed then I promptly forgot it's name. Going to try it tonight :-) xox

  10. We're (finally) watching 30 Rock, which we love.

  11. Just spent two days watching thirteen episodes of House of Cards you are right Clare's hair is terrific.May I suggest Scandal. A bit far fetched but the main character Olivia is brilliant!!

  12. First time commenter! Thank you SO MUCH for the Americas cheat...I have fwd'd this to everyone I know with the subject line HAWT TIP.


    Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes - amazing. Like a much better version of a bunch of other programs that don't pull it off, and satisfyingly creepy.

    Boardwalk Empire - it's so good! A bit gory but so many great characters.

    Thanks again! Amy

    1. I second the recommendation for LoM and A2A. Both excellent. I'd also suggest Spooks if we're talking UK shows, but that's hardly good viewing for Christmas.

  13. I love Netflix! I would definitely recommend Orange is the New Black- SO GOOD and if you find yourself hooked, the next season is out in January ;)

  14. We have one of those old pre-digital TV sets, but we got a Roku Box and simply run Netflix (and Pandora) through it! No little computer for us! Get the Rokuuuuuu!

  15. Ok and recommendations:

    Documentaries!!! "First Position", "The House I Live In", "Somewhere Between".


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