“Never Have I Ever.”
Isabella B. Vosmikova/Netflix.
I’ve been a Netflix subscriber since 2009 when a standard subscription still came with DVDs.I canceled my account after the password-sharing crackdown made me realize I wasn’t watching as often. I’ll probably be back, but it feels like the end of an era with a service I came of age with.
I started getting Netflix’s red envelopes in the mail back in 2009.
At first, I’d rent classic movies I either couldn’t find or didn’t gravitate toward at my local Blockbuster — movies like “Bullitt” and “Charade.” As the streaming catalog expanded, I discovered TV shows like “Doctor Who” and “Weeds,” and rediscovered old favorites I was too young to truly appreciate when they first aired, including “Twin Peaks.”
When Netflix began making its own shows, I’d often wake up at (or stay up until) midnight to watch new episodes when they dropped. I popped Champagne with my now husband when Netflix revived “Arrested Development.”
But, more recently, I’ve been watching Netflix less and less. My family, who’d been using my account since I introduced them to the streamer, were the main reasons I kept paying for the service despite also subscribing to Peacock, Max, Prime Video, and, at times, Apple TV+, Disney+, and Paramount+.
When Netflix clamped down on password sharing, and my parents and brother got their own account, I realized I hadn’t watched Netflix myself in over two months — with the last thing I watched being the finale of “Never Have I Ever.” And before that, it’d been over a month since I’d watched anything: old episodes of “The Great British Baking Show.” The last new Netflix show I truly got into was “Wednesday” in 2022.
That’s why, in August, I canceled my Netflix account after subscribing for 14 years.
A screenshot of the email confirmation I received when I canceled Netflix.
It was sad to say goodbye to something that had been a constant throughout much of my adult life. It may have been the first service I paid for on my own. It kept me company the first night I moved out of my parents’ house for good. It’d been part of many date nights, girls’ nights, and travels; I’ve streamed from New York to Belgium. When my husband merged his Netflix account with mine, it was almost as big a step in our relationship as moving in together. It’s where we discovered our mutual love for “Top Gear,” and by extension Formula One, which Netflix seemed to reward us for many years later with “Drive to Survive.”
To be honest, I probably developed some bad habits because of Netflix, too. I watch a lot of TV. Like, a lot. It’s how I unwind. And while that’s always been true, I leaned into it more when Netflix gave me what felt like unlimited access. That access has both expanded and fragmented with each new streaming service.
I used to fall asleep to “The Office” when it was on Netflix. Now, I still fall asleep to “The Office,” but on Peacock.
I’m probably not done with Netflix for good. I’ll likely be back whenever the next season of “Wednesday” or “The Sandman” premieres, or when the “Stranger Things” finale finally comes out.
Netflix also said it would delete my user history if I didn’t return within 10 months — and, as you might’ve guessed by reading this, I have a hard time letting things go. Although, part of me also thinks a blank Netflix slate sounds … liberating.
Still, it feels like the end of an era in my life — more so than it did when I canceled cable, which I inherited and had no real emotional attachment to. Netflix, on the other hand, was something I privately championed, relishing in turning friends and family onto the service and its new shows and movies.
While Netflix’s password-sharing crackdown has largely been good for business, for me, the service is now too expensive and the content too inconsistent. I’ll turn it on and off when there are new releases I want to watch, like I do Apple TV+ and Disney+. This behavior is becoming increasingly common as people like me juggle more subscriptions, much to the frustration of many streamers.
But I don’t think Netflix will ever again be my go-to service for movie nights, catching up on my favorite shows, or just comfort viewing, like it had been for so many years.