Jay and I discovered the joy of saturating ourselves in a Netflix television series when we started watching X-Files – probably within the last 18 months of his life. Super fun! And when Scully was diagnosed with Nasal Pharyngeal Cancer we totally knew someone in our support group who had had it! Sick Bonus! Thus began the parallel life I led – and may still lead – with Netflix.
The fact that Netflix allows folks to watch television series’ uninterrupted is probably the reason it’s still in business.
Anyway, soon after the bloom was off the rose with Mulder and Scully, Jay and I switched to Orange is the New Black. I can tell you honestly, when Jay knew there were no more treatment options in October and then learned the next season of Orange wasn’t coming out till June – without a doubt past his expiration date – he added that to his regrets for dying. No lie.
During the last four months of his life, when he was sleeping most of the time and in too much pain to hang out with me downstairs, I started watching a series that had me realize a psychological interpretation of my Netflix attachment might be worthwhile. I became addicted to LOST. I blazed through 7 seasons in probably 2 months. I enjoyed telling Jay all about the twists and turns – in the morning, sometimes after an all-night LOST marathon. I was engrossed. And in the end, when the characters were all dead together – Or had they always been dead together? Or is it a commentary on the existential notion that Now is Now, no matter what the timeline is? – It mirrored what I had told Jay my own theory was: that when he died I’d be there waiting for him, because time is only here and not there. Anyway, LOST blew my mind – and if you read any of my posts from that time you could tell I was in a pretty existential state.
LOST wrapped up while Jay was still pretty healthy, all things considered. But I was still alone after the kids went to bed, and I had learned to love my Netflix, so I made an unusual choice (or so I thought). I started watching Dexter. I surrendered to my subconscious Netflix urges. Why the hell not?
Truth be told, it’s not hard to imagine why I became devoted to a series about a serial killer. Death was the theme, both in the show and in my life. And Dexter was a smart series – well written, well acted, and in Florida – the place of my childhood. I liked it for a lot of reasons, but most likely because it exposed me to death over and over again. It was coming, upstairs, soon. So I watched it on Netflix. It doesn’t take a PhD to deconstruct the value I took from that sick premise… Dexter was the Good Guy Serial Killer. Be comfortable with death. It’s not always a bad thing.
I was done with Dexter after Jay died. I finished the series, sort out of habit, but the quality of the show was waning and my Netflix need was, too. I moved on to Weeds.
Weeds, of course, is the series about a woman raising her two boys after her husband suddenly dies – supporting them with the new business she adopts to maintain their suburban lifestyle – selling marijuana. She’s plucky, and aimless, and therefore hilarious/dangerous adventures ensue. Her luck is always, and never, running out. I watched until Orange is the New Black came out. I watched the second season of Orange in probably a week. Then I returned to Weeds. No reason to dwell.
Jay got his medical marijuana card almost exactly a year before he died. He had never really liked the stuff before, but once we discovered all the different strains available he was hooked. It meant a lot to him his last year, being able to use pot. It didn’t really address the pain like some proponents assert, but it took the edge off. He knew he was dying, but while High it didn’t ruin his mood to know it! The kids said “If it helps you, why isn’t it legal? That’s stupid.” They were right.
Weeds ended during that time of mourning when I wasn’t sure what future to hold on to. I had to figure out how to move forward without my partner – as a parent – and for once had the bandwidth to turn my attention towards work, not cancer. Suffice it to say, some crops are easier and more lucrative to grow than others.
And while I pondered whether to run for office again, I started watching The Tudors. Evil, self-serving, back-stabbing, megalomaniacs for whom rises to the top, and subsequent be-headings, were all just part of the scene. I wanted to watch through to the end but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. There’s only so much of that a person can take, and right now Vallejo has it in spades.
And so I surrendered to the Netflix addiction I secretly shared with Stella – GLEE. Always taking the high road, despite the personal tensions between it’s well-crafted characters, GLEE is a hopeful and endless musical. Yes, the cute guy who played Finn died of a heroin overdose, but that just makes it more real for us I think. Sad to have lost such a genuinely sweet soul at such a young age. But he’s still there for us on the TV screen, any time we tune in, and often singing Journey – one of Jay’s eternal favorites.