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‘Method’ Viewing: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Netflix
March 19, 2018  | By Alex Strachan  | 2 comments

I’m one of the 16 percent.

According to a 2012 Digital Marketing survey titled "The 5 Stages of Technology Adoption," the world is divided into five types of technology users.

There are the Innovators, those who absolutely must be the first to try out a new toy. They are the youngest in age, tend to come from the most affluent social backgrounds and are the most willing to take risks. They number some 2.5% of technology users in all. If asked, no doubt they would say they are fans of The OA (below), Sense8, and anything with Amy Schumer.

Then you have your Early Adopters (13.5%). They tend to be the most opinionated users, according to Digital Marketing, are relatively young in age, are well-to-do financially, and are most likely to hold a college or university degree. In Digital Marketing’s words —not mine! — they’re  “more socially forward than late adopters.” If asked, they will tell you they favor Orange is the New Black over Prison Break.

Then there is the Early Majority (34%), the group that probably does more than any other to decide whether a technology start-up is a success or not. According to Digital Marketing, those in the Early Majority tend to be “above average” in social status but are less pushy than Early Adopters. They have opinions; they just don’t feel like shouting those opinions to the world at large.

They like Stranger Things and probably wish Millie Bobby Brown had won the Emmy instead of that ingénue from The Handmaid’s Tale, but they’re unlikely to pick a fight over it.

The self-explanatory Late Majority (34%) tend to be more skeptical than the Early Majority, are not as upwardly mobile or socially adaptable as Early Adopters, but they come round eventually. If asked, they’ll tell you they’d vote for House of Cards over Commander in Chief any day of the week.

And then you have your Laggards, the group Digital Marketing clearly wants to call “Losers,” but just can’t.

The Laggards — all 16% of us — are the last to adapt to new technology, the first to complain when things go wrong — what, Comcast again? —  and the last to admit that Everything Sucks! (right) is actually really kinda good.

This group shows little to no inclination for leadership or opinion-making. “These individuals have an aversion to change,” according to Digital Marketing, “and tend to be advanced in age.”

But wait, there’s more. Laggards tend to be tied to tradition — these kids today! — are “likely to have the lowest social status,” have the “lowest financial fluidity” and “be oldest of all other adopters.” There it is again, the ageism.

It gets worse. Laggards, we’re told, are “in contact with only family and close friends.” This group is the most likely to have been holding out for new episodes of Arrested Development and Gilmore Girls but decided Netflix went to hell the moment they decided to make a Western and, rather than resurrecting Bonanza, came up with Godless instead.

Confession: I’m a Laggard. Clearly so, because it was only a few weeks ago that I finally added Netflix to my to-do list. (In my defense, Netflix’s early days in my home market were pathetic. A friend’s older parents subscribed to the service during its initial launch here, to catch up on the long-running UK soap Coronation Street, only to find that the local version of Netflix offered just one season, picked seemingly at random, from the mid-1980s somewhere. To put that in perspective, remember that this past month Coronation Street became the world’s longest-running soap opera, having surpassed the previous record holder, Guiding Light, which debuted in 1952 and ran for 57 years and three months.)

When — thanks to the buzz surrounding Stranger Things, House of Cards, and Orange is the New Black, not to mention Bloodline, Mindhunter, and Black Mirror, which are more to my taste — I finally decided to give Netflix a go, I didn’t know quite what to expect.

By this time, friends were warning me that the hardest part about Netflix is figuring out what to watch from the myriad choices available, and then finding the time to watch it.

Signing up was easy. The hard part came next. The other day, I sat down to assemble “My List,” the Netflix equivalent of the to-do list.

Two hours later, I wondered what the (heck) I had gotten myself into. Who has the time? It occurred to me function whereby one can browse Netflix’s entire library: If it takes one more than two hours to simply assemble a list, how much time is it going to take to actually watch the shows on that list?

I have a taste for Nordic noir — it was foreign crime dramas that drew me to Netflix in the first place. Nordic noir, an amorphous genre loosely inspired by Wallander and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, hails from countries like Denmark (the original Killing), Sweden (Bron, aka The Bridge), Finland (Bordertown), Norway (Borderline), Iceland (Lava Field, Trapped), France (La Mante), Belgium (The Break), and even Russia (The Method, a kind of "Russia-fied" take on Criminal Minds, but without a single concession to US-style storytelling, whether it’s likeable characters or, spoiler alert, happy endings).?

But wait, there’s more.

Many viewers — some of my friends among them — say Netflix makes it difficult to track down programs you might like to watch, despite any number of helpful, if generic, categories, like “Trending Now,” “Recently Added,” “Popular on Netflix,” “Binge-worthy TV Shows,” “Documentaries,” “New Releases” and so on.

What I learned, though, is that if you use the “search” function, and are creative about what you type into the field, you’ll be surprised at what pops out.

If you type in “Russia,” for example, a series of links like “Russian TV Shows” appears; if you then click on “Russian TV Shows,” The Method pops up on the list, between Fartsa (“As four Russian friends grow up in the ‘60s, life, love and the curse of success threaten to derail their dreams”) and Silver Spoon (left) (“Forced to become an apprentice cop, cocky playboy Igor finds he has a knack for police work. But his job soon takes him down a dark personal path”).

The more you burrow into your list of personal preferences, the more arcane and specific the suggestions become. My search for Nordic noir prompted Netflix’s algorithm to throw up entire categories from virtually every corner of the globe, from Dutch-language crime dramas, German-language crime dramas and French-language crime dramas to Turkish-language crime dramas and, so help me, African-language dramas. (Fun fact: There are 54 separate countries in Africa, many of which speak their own, unique language. That’s an awful lot of TV to sift through, just to find something that might pique your interest.)

And yet . . . it’s oddly worth it.

For all we’re exposed to CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, PBS, HBO, and all the others, the real secret behind Netflix’s business model is simply this: It has covered the entire planet.

There is some astonishing TV being made around the world, every bit as well-made, acted and, most important of all, written as well as anything coming out of the US or Canada.

AMC’s version of The Killing, with Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman, was fine, top-of-the-line storytelling — and yet it was still a slightly paler version of the Danish original, which starred Sofie Gråbøl and Søren Malling (right), not exactly household names, neither here in North America nor, arguably, anywhere.

Similarly, FX’s The Bridge, fine as it was with Diane Kruger and Damián Bichir in the lead roles, couldn’t hold a candle to the Swedish original, Bron (Broen in Danish), which starred Sofia Helin and Kim Bodnia. (Netflix right now is showing the Swedish original, with English subtitles, even as it’s showing all four seasons of the AMC version of The Killing).

That’s the other thing about Netflix’s worldview: So many of these programs feature actors you’ve never heard of or seen before, yet many of these performers are every beat the equal of anyone who’s ever won an Emmy or Golden Globe.

It isn’t just the actors, either. The Swedish screenwriter and novelist Hans Rosenfeldt, who created Bron (The Bridge) recently wrote the successful London UK-based drama Marcella for Netflix, starring Pushing Daisies’ Anna Friel (right) as a haunted police detective who suffers from unfortunate blackouts at the most inopportune times. Marcella has been available on Netflix for several weeks now; new episodes are expected in May.

Nordic noir is invading English-language TV, and Netflix is the tip of the thrusting spear.

Why do I like Netflix, having come to it so late?

I’m fed up with commercials, for starters. There are no ads on Netflix, let alone the five-minute, six-minute and even seven-minute breaks now in vogue on so many cable channels.

I can watch what I want, when I want. I don’t like HBO telling me I have to wait a week to see what happens next on Game of Thrones — and that’s during the eight weeks of the year when there are actually new episodes to see.

I’m actually not one for binge-watching, as a rule; I don’t need to watch half-a-dozen episodes of something in a single viewing, but I do like having the freedom to decide for myself.

My idea of binge-viewing — and I suspect I’m not alone — is to watch a single episode a night, on consecutive nights, over a period of eight to 10 days.

After one gets used to that, it’s hard to wait a week to see who Negan hits with his baseball bat next on The Walking Dead, or what happened to Daenerys Targaryen’s dragon once it emerged from the deep freeze on the other side of The Wall.

It’s a big world out there, but Netflix is determined to get on top of it. What I appreciated most about The Method (left), quite apart from the tightly wound stories and overarching sense of creeping dread, is the way it shows modern-day Russia the way Russians see it, every bit as weird and screwed up and morose and economically depressed as anything you’ll find in the Rust Belt, with good cops and bad cops, overworked bureaucrats, dedicated hospital workers, kind-hearted social workers, and deranged weirdoes.

TV can spill over into other cultures in the most unexpected ways. I was struck, for example, just days after finishing The Method’s 16 episodes, to be watching the skating Exhibition Gala on the final day of the PyeongChang Olympics when 18-year-old Evgenia Medvedeva, winner of the silver medal in women’s competitive skating, donned a brown hoodie and sweatshirt for her exhibition skate — a dead ringer for Paulina Andreeva’s Method character Eseniya Steklova, skating a routine that looked as if it came directly from The Method.

Not many Olympic watchers in the outside world, other than Netflix viewers who have seen The Method, would have picked up on the reference, and yet there it was: I’m betting there’s not a single TV viewer in Russia who had seen The Method who didn’t spot the connection in a heartbeat.

Medvedeva has always skated to her own eccentric artistic beat, true, but just try to imagine if, say, US competitive skater Mirai Nagasu had skated onto the ice at the Exhibition Gala in the Olympic Games as an instantly identifiable, recognizable character from Criminal Minds.

Netflix is conquering the TV world, not just with Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black, but with the more obscure, offshore drama offerings as well.

“Netflix shook it up, brought this whole new generation of people who said, 'I watch things when I want to watch, how I want to watch, where I want to watch, and that's something that no one's going to ever forget,’” Jessica Jones’ Mike Colter told TV critics recently. “This has changed the game completely, and I think it's the tip of the iceberg.”

That may be, but I really don’t know when I’m going to find time to watch it all. Do you?
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Didn't know this genre existed, but I've seen all titles recimmended and then some. Must add "Occupied" and 2nd Season is now available. It's delicious
Mar 21, 2018   |  Reply
I enjoyed reading this, especially because I've had Netflix almost since it's inception. (Netflix should pay me for how many people I've talked into getting it.:) I'm also a very big fan on Nordic Noir and have to recommend one series for the above list. It's a French character driven, quite realistic undercover detective series titled, Spiral. If you haven't seen it yet you're in for a real treat. Be sure to see all 7 seasons even if Netflix may only have 5 of them. The rest are out there somewhere.

For me, the problem with Netflix's queue is that I've usually forgotten the titles of the shows I placed on it by the time I actually get around to seeing any of them and there's no way to tell what they are about while actually viewing said list. For that reason I've taken to keeping my list on my laptop (no cell phone for me!) Two of them. One for international shows and one for American TV. That way I can keep notes like who suggested them to me, etc., to help trigger my memory.
Mar 21, 2018   |  Reply
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