It’s fun to consider phrases or conversations that would’ve made no sense last year. For example:
“The governor is supposed to speak this afternoon. Do we have enough flour?”
“Is he closing bars? You might want to get some Charmin.”
Incomprehensible in 2019, those comments make perfect sense to us now. You wonder what will make sense next year.
“Are you done with that shoehorn? The dogs are on the roof.”
“The governor is up in a balloon beating rugs. How are we fixed for beets?”
“I swear, if the clocks don’t stop jumping, I’m getting a new sausage bucket.”
“Quick, everyone! We have to get home in time to catch our favorite TV show!”
That last one kinda sorta makes sense, if you’re old enough. Before the blessed invention of the VCR, you were stuck watching TV when the shows came on. The only way to record a show was to hire a dozen courtroom sketch artists and have them draw it as fast as possible while it was on. And when the show was done, it was gone. It might come back in a summer rerun, but no one watched TV in the summer because it was either reruns or the “Hudson Brothers Old-Time Great American Musical Contrapulation” or some other “summer show.”
That’s about to change. Variety, the entertainment industry “bible” (minus the ethics and theology), says that Netflix is testing a new service in France. It’s called “Direct,” which is French for “Direct.” Here’s the wrinkle:
“The initiative marks Netflix’s first foray into real-time, scheduled programming.”
Real-time, scheduled programming. In other words, TV the way it was when there were only three channels — four, if you count the eat-your-vegetables PBS channel. Apparently the French still like that idea, according to Netflix’s website announcement:
“In France, watching traditional TV remains hugely popular with people who just want a ‘lean back’ experience where they don’t have to choose shows.”
The Lean Back Experience! That’s one way of putting it. And so unlike America, where we sit on the edge of the sofa, leaning forward, one leg jittering up and down as we stab the remote to find something to watch.
Variety says that “real-time TV” might appeal to viewers who “may feel fatigued after having binge-watched the titles that were recommended to them.”
We recall that the endless buffet of on-demand streaming TV came to be because people were fatigued by the limited options of network and premium cable offerings, and we wonder if the French people who look forward to real-time TV and the Americans who fled from it ever get together and talk.
“Zut alors, je suis fatigue. I have le binged tout le shows, et mon coeur is like a wilted fleur in the lapel of a comatose mime.”
“Know whatcha mean, Jean-Pierre, but it’s the opposite for me. I used to think about how even HBO made you wait a whole week for the next episode, and I was overcome with fatigue brought on by limited dramatic options.”
The truth lies somewhere in the middle for the rest of us. We might complain that there are too many shows, but this is like complaining that the library has too many books. TV is not an obligation. It’s OK if you don’t watch everything other people suggest.
A friend keeps trying to make me watch a show he likes, and everything about it sounds like something I’d like, too. You know what’s keeping me from starting it? There are nine seasons. If I like it, I will feel a nagging obligation to watch the entire series. It will show up on my pane of FOR YOU options, and I’ll feel guilty and will have to make up a new user profile so I can start life afresh.
If only I were in France watching Netflix Direct. I could lie about not watching it.
“Did you ever get around to watching ‘Police Hospital Lawyers in Space,’ that show I thought you’d like?”
“I was on a family videoconference and missed it. Real shame! Sounds like something I’d like.”
There’s a nomination for phrases that will make sense next year: “Too bad I missed Lean-Back Real-Time TV, but I was Zooming with my mother-in-law.”
By the way, yes, I did buy flour. You never know. And that’s a phrase that makes sense today.