Netflix has done something to the family dynamic I don’t think any other televised medium has done before, allowed parents to connect with their children through the shows of their youth-even if some of those cartoons are horrible to watch today (back when the parent was a child they were awesome).
Roughly once a week, one of our kids comes downstairs, to tell us in an excited manner the “new show they discovered on Netflix.” The date of each show does not seem to register to them. That they are watching the show and they have never seen the show makes the show new. And each time they tell us about the “new show,” I tell them how I used to watch that show when I was kid. Sometimes I admit this with a wince, Super Mario Brothers Show anyone?
After each time I tell them I used to watch that show, they respond, “You saw that?”
Yes, I did. I remember Smurfs, Super Mario Brothers (don’t judge I was a kid), Pac Man, any of the Spiderman cartoons and so on. I watched a lot of television as a child and I have a good memory. This is where the magic of Netflix kicks in. Suddenly what was new and cool only for being new, becomes cool because someone else has watched the show and can immediately share their joy without them having to explain the show. Do you remember trying to explain the shows you watched as child to your parents? This conversation goes a lot smoother.
“You mean Gargamel? He has a cat.”
“Yeah, yeah,” our girl is very excited because I knew about the cat.
And for the next half-hour we talk about the Smurfs. Sharing our joy, fun, and experiences watching the show. This is amazing to me, because I remember a time when cartoons were for kids and selling toys to kids. Parents had little to less than zero interest in them, other than what do I buy junior for birthdays and holidays. VCRs and DVDs did not create that bond. Both were for adults wanting to experience some nostalgia or to put the kids in front of the television for a while with shows the children were familiar with.
We have Transformers and Robotech collections on DVD. The kids watched them with me, but weren’t really as interested in them and did not talk to me about them until they “discovered” Transformers on Netflix. Watching Transformers on their own, they were able to form their own opinions and questions without an adult in the room. This lead them to talk to me about the Transformers. These conversations lead to a quest to find Transformers the Movie (animated)-I had to
explain show them, how one day there was Optimus Prime and the next day, Rodimus Prime. That switch, without any explanation, really through them for a loop. For the record, Optimus Prime has blue legs and Rodimus Prime has black legs.
So, yes I did see that and I am more than willing to share my youth with my children because it has lead to some fun and interesting bonding that would not have happened if Netflix had not come along.