by Bridget Galvin
There are few things in this world that I truly hate, as hate is a very strong word. I remember, growing up, whenever I would get frustrated with one of my three very loud, very annoying brothers it would inevitably end in a screaming match. Each screaming match would follow the same basic script and conclude with the three words that were commonly tossed around in the early days of the Galvin household: “I hate you!” This term, to my mother, was the most awful expression in the English language. Of course, she would never get angry with her little angels; so, instead of yelling, she would simply remind us that hate is a very, very strong word. Her comment combined with a disapproving stare—so withering we were sure she attended some sort of mothering school in Russia before we were born—would eventually lead to a weak apology and the occasional forced hug.
I only share this brief glimpse into my childhood to emphasize the point that when I say I hate something I truly mean it. So, let me return to the few things in this world that I truly hate with the understanding that there will be no exaggeration for dramatic effect.
I enjoy watching television shows, and I exercise this enjoyment quite frequently. Though to many, the amount of complete series I have viewed may be deemed embarrassing or to some, even gross, I take pride in my television accomplishments. I am simply taking advantage of a remarkable moment in history when all six seasons of Gossip Girl are available online through Netflix Streaming. I can watch Gilmore Girls, Law & Order: SVU, and The West Wing all through one media platform. What a time to be alive.
However, despite this online streaming golden age, I was recently faced with an impossible dilemma. When I catch up on all of my shows on Netflix, what am I to do? I was forced to choose between illegally streaming for free or paying for Hulu Plus. It is important now to clarify my lack of knowledge in the technological field. When someone says “computer virus,” I picture a laptop bent over a toilet yelling at his owner in a robot voice about sneezing on him (yes, laptops are male and ships are female, it’s just how things work). So my fear when opening up one of these illegal sites is not the typical one. I am not frightened of an FBI SWAT team bursting through my window with a warrant for my arrest, but of something so horrible inflicting my computer that I simply cannot comprehend. Something like downloading a bunch of guy-on-pony porn into a slideshow meant for a funeral, or changing my profile picture on Facebook to guy-on-pony porn. These fears may seem irrational to some, but I have had one too many nightmares about this sort of scenario for it not to be some sort of premonition (One night I woke up in a cold sweat with an image of a miniature horse and a former US senator doing the nasty so engrained in my head, it took a whole season of Portlandia to get it out). Some fear global warming, I fear my friends and family being affronted by bestiality on their Newsfeed.
So after careful deliberation, and lots of well-hidden pro/con lists, Hulu Plus was selected. Things between Hulu and I started out great. I could watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart every morning while I got ready for the day and watch Scandal into the wee hours of the night. We were getting along famously, with lots of laughs and some tears during a particularly poignant Doogie Howser M.D. episode—when things started to crumble.
I must preface this story with a personal disclosure that may provide context for my breakup with Hulu. I grew up on PBS and my family’s DVD collection. I occasionally would flip to the Disney Channel, but Lizzy Mcguire held no candle to Arthur’s commercial free yet drama-filled entertainment bliss. On DVD, free of advertisement interruptions, I could watch two of my childhood favorites, MASH and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. My extensive background in commercial-free binge watching stems all the way back to my ZOOM days. For Tupac, it was the thug life. For me, it was an appreciation for non-interrupted television.
My hatred of Hulu Ads should not shock you. If anything, it should be a relief to you. If you have delved this far into my psyche you must be able to commiserate with an individual who just wants to enjoy the newest episode of Revenge in peace. You should also understand that this is not just displeasure. This is hatred. Characters and storylines that you love and hold dear are interrupted, and for what? A reminder that Verizon “is here.” ‘Cause I get it, Verizon is now in Alaska, big whoop. That is not fair to you and it is not fair to Leslie and Ben of Parks and Rec whose will-they-won’t-they relationship was about to be changed forever, but instead you are stuck watching Samuel L. Jackson discussing the Capital One Quicksilver Cashback Card.
My breakup with Hulu was not absolute; Hulu and I are still friends. I still watch The Daily Show, as I get ready in the morning. I still have the occasional binge relapse on the latest Grey’s Anatomy episodes, but I always regret it in the morning. I write this in the hopes that you can be stronger than me, that you have the courage to leave Hulu for good. I am still helpless, in that desperation and loneliness always drives me back to him, but you still have the chance to have a normal life. When you catch up on your shows, start a new show on Netflix. Maybe the obscure British sitcom you heard about from the kid in your class who rides a scooter or email me and ask for a recommendation catered to your personal preferences. Learn from my mistakes and please do not settle for any less than you deserve when it comes to your viewing pleasure.