By Alice O'Rorke, Second Year, English Literature
It is well-known that long-distance relationships are challenging. They require communication, trust, patience and, in my case, regular FaceTime calls so that we can remind ourselves what the other looks like.
The time apart, as difficult as it can be, is always worth that less frequent time together. However, after two lockdowns of separation, the third lockdown announcement came as very frustrating to my boyfriend and I. We all dread the mundanity of life in lockdown, it’s true.
This lockdown, the mundanity has been increased by the glum weather around us. My freezing university house, with its single glazed windows and E rated insulation, has made getting up and doing things (particularly Boris’ recommended daily exercise) a real struggle. But, when you are doing absolutely nothing in your days other than pretending to do university work and eating, the material to talk about during those FaceTime calls runs a little dry.
That is where Netflix has come very much in handy. My boyfriend and I, throughout this lockdown, and a little in the previous ones too, have worked our way through multiple films and series together. We have watched The Witcher (2019-), which was very addictive due to the intense cliff-hangers and lingering intrigue between each episode. We also completed the gorgeous six-episode dark-comedy Back to Life (2019), Tiger King (2020), something which I thoroughly enjoyed but never would have watched by myself, and The Breakfast Club (1985), one of my favourite films which I got to introduce to my boyfriend.
We are now watching The Last Kingdom (2015-), and I am excited by the fact there are four seasons for us to look forward to; I’m sure this will fill lots of time before we can venture back into pub gardens together.
I find that this way of watching Netflix pushes me somewhat out of my standard ‘comfort zone’ of Netflix screening. Typically, whilst by myself, I often resort to trashy rom-coms and easy series (most recently, I’m ashamed to announce, I got hooked on Are You the One? (2014), which I binge-watched in 3 days.) Therefore, with our different tastes, I’ve been viewing more of Netflix’s options than I otherwise would ever see.
One way to do this is to use the Chrome extension ‘Teleparty’ – previously known as Netflix Party. In this, you can link up and watch the same show with loved ones, whilst commenting throughout. This is also great in that the number of watchers is not limited to two, making it great for friends and families.
Although this sounds a great way of watching Netflix together, my boyfriend and I instead watch our Netflix together by FaceTiming on our phones and watching on our laptops. In this way, we can see each other’s faces and view the genuine reactions of the other, as you would in real life, which makes it seem much more organic. We mute ourselves whilst watching, but then unmute if we have anything we want to comment or react on.
We have a little chat before and a little chat afterwards (catching up on our days but not having to go into everything we’ve eaten). My housemates frequently come into my room, so he’s able to catch up a little bit with them too. Watching a series together prevents me from binge-watching it on Tuesday afternoon instead of working; the commitment of watching it with someone else keeps me and my procrastination in line. We space it out, which makes it so much more tantalising when we so watch an episode; the cliff hangers linger in my mind between episodes, making the anticipation all the greater.
A big part of our time together, and of our relationship, has always been chilling out, watching some TV with a cup of tea and having a cuddle. Therefore, watching Netflix together in this way means that I get a chunk of normality injected into my week, in an otherwise pretty abnormal situation. We watch an episode around every other day, which means that I really feel like I’m spending a good amount of time with him. Although we are obviously not really together, this feels like the most natural way of spending time apart.
Therefore, to any long-distanced couple out there, I would thoroughly recommend using Netflix as a way to spend time with one another for the remainder of this lockdown. I have found this so effective for my own relationship. It has helped us to communicate when there is so little to communicate about. I am sure we will continue this long after June 21st whenever we spend time apart.
Are you a fan of Netflix Party?