UB students discuss 'Netflix and chill'

The phrase is new, but not the practice


A three-word text: Netflix and Chill?

It seems innocent, but don’t start popping popcorn just yet. These three simple words might lead to something far beyond just watching a movie with a friend.

Netflix is an online streaming service that offers a selection of movies and TV shows at the price of just $8 a month. The low cost has greatly altered the definition of a cheap date. The phrase “Netflix and chill” has taken on a new meaning as a date consisting of a few minutes watching a TV or movie – and then sex. The phrase is popular amongst young people as a way to talk about sex without actually talking about sex.

There are even “Netflix and chill” condoms that can be purchased online.

But using television as an excuse to flirt and possibly have sex isn’t exactly a “new” concept.

Lance Rintamaki, a communication professor specializing in sexual communication, said although he is fairly new to “Netflix and chill,” the phrase is “just simply a term that has existed in various incarnation[s].”

He said that people engaging any sort of sexual activity while watching movies isn’t a new concept – it now just has a catchy new name.

For the average broke college student, “Netflix and chill” can be a cheap alternative to taking a date out to an expensive dinner or movie. But guys who ask women to “Netflix and chill” never actually intend to watch a movie, according to Railna Duncan, a sophomore international relations major.

“It's corny, no one is thinking of watching a movie, they don’t want a date, they want a cheap way to hang out for a second and get laid,” Duncan said. “They don’t want to pay for anything, they say, ‘I’m a college student and broke.’ But even guys I know, they say they never have the intention of watching a movie.”

Pablo Valdes, a junior civil engineering major, said in his experience, “Netflix and chill” never came off as something awkward or inappropriate. He said he would only participate in the activity with a girl he had been talking to for some time – not girls he had just met. This way, he said, feelings don’t get hurt.

“Most girls responded what calmly and positively to the messages and it never really ended with either of us feeling bad about it,” Valdes said.

Some feel “Netflix and chill” is an easy way out of talking to someone on a date.

James Mckeehan, a junior civil engineering major, said he is a very social person and he prefers to socialize through mediums that allow for direct interaction – not just sitting in a dark room watching Netflix.

“People are forgetting what it’s like to just talk to each other,” Mckeehan said.

Hagar Hafez, a freshman business major, said the phrase comes from a lack of communication: people not knowing how to ask politely for sex.

“Most people are lonely and horny and want someone to watch movies with and f*ck with afterwards,” Hafez said. “It’s more of an excuse really, most people don't want a serious relationship and they don't know how to ask for sex politely.”

Despite the lack of communication during a “Netflix and chill” session, Netflix and TV can give people a reason to speak to each other.

Matthew Grizzard, a communication professor, said that 50-60 years ago, people wouldn’t have anything to talk about at work if you didn’t watch one of the few available TV channels the night before.

“There have been significant decreases in the percentage of people watching the same stuff, but there has been no change in the desire people have to watch shows for socializing purposes,” Grizzard said.

This expansion of genre consumption has triggered a phenomenon called “micro-audiences,” which creates very specific fan groups. Gizzard said micro-audiences use the Internet to communicate with people who share their same interests.

But watching the online streaming service doesn’t always just lead to sex. Lyndsey Spangel, a sophomore civil, structural and environmental engineering major, said she usually makes a night out of watching Netflix with a group of her close friends when they all decide to stay in instead of going out for drinks.

“It’s a good way to just laugh and catch up with friends,” Spangel said.

But the “Netflix and chill” phenomenon has given college students a way to ask for sex without asking for sex.

Kenneth Kashif Thomas contributed reporting on this story.

Tomas Olivier is the assistant arts editor. Arts can be reached at arts@spectrum.com