When I’m not writing about horror movies or tweeting self-deprecating jokes, I like to consider myself a connoisseur of going on terrible, horrible, no good, very bad dates. I went through a phase where all of my dates were the equivalent of a McGriddle after a night of heavy drinking. Meaning, they were cheap and expendable, but (at the time) definitely worth it. As a lover of film, the best thing to ever happen to someone like me is the practice of “Netflix and Chill.” For those unaware, Netflix and Chill is a new term for “inviting someone over with the understanding that you’re at the very least, going to do the no-pants hands dance.” This isn’t to say that being invited over, or inviting someone over for Netflix and Chill is a guaranteed trip to the Bone Zone, it is just an unspoken way to tell someone that you “so would.” While Netflix and Chill has become commonplace in the modern lexicon, the actual practice of Netflix and Chill isn’t quite so easy. I’ve whipped up a handy guide to assist anyone looking to step up their N&C game.
RULE #1: DON’T BE A TOTAL WEIRDO
The same way that you wouldn’t run into a bar and start screaming “WHO WANT’S TO F**K?!” don’t come on too strong with your N&C invitations. Everyone knows what N&C really means, so if your first message is “Netflix & Chill” followed by some form of emoji, it comes off as a super creepy move and no one wants to go home with that person. If someone agrees to N&C, make sure that you ease into it. Sure, you’ve already made the unspoken agreement that a possible hook-up is on the horizon, but that doesn’t mean the second your guest picks a genre to scroll through that you take off your pants in excitement. The beautiful thing about Netflix & Chill is that you’re in a very low-stakes situation but allow the possibility for maximum closeness. Start by sitting on separate cushions, be sure to read body language, and have snacks or drinks at the ready before the movie even starts. Twizzlers and popcorn make for great snacks, jalepeno poppers…not so much.
RULE #2: LOOK AT NETFLIX BEFORE YOUR DATE ARRIVES
There are so, so, SO many movies available on Netflix and new titles are added every single day. Familiarize yourself with the available options and that will give you something to talk about with your date. Scroll through the weirdly specific suggested categories but always keep your pesronal movie suggestion in the back of your mind. This will prevent you from unnecessarily scrolling for hours at a time. Know what you want to watch, but take your time getting to that movie. Half the fun is debating all of the ridiculous suggestions, just like the old days of browsing video store shelves. The major difference between browsing video shelves and Netflix suggestions is that all of the flirtatious energy still exists, but you’re in a much more intimate setting.
RULE #3: IF YOU DON’T HAVE A TV. YOU ARE NOT READY FOR NETFLIX AND CHILL
The only places that are acceptable to watch Netflix on a phone are airports, doctor’s offices, and the backseat of car rides with your overly conservative relatives. Nowhere else. Period. If you invite someone to N&C and you are watching on a phone, you’re setting yourself up for looking like a total assuming asshole. A laptop is the lowest form of acceptable N&C watching devices, and even that’s pushing it.
RULE #4: CHOOSE YOUR HORROR WISELY
Look, I love I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, but I’m not going to turn that bad boy on if I’m trying to N&C. Use your judgement on what would be appropriate for a first date. Now is not the time to show how much gore you can stomach or how unaffected you are by exploitation films. Horror comedies are always a safe-bet and will keep the mood fun and light-hearted. Paranormal flicks or ones loaded with jump scares are good for adrenaline rushes and close cuddling. Independent fare like WE ARE STILL HERE or THE GUEST are my go-tos, because you get to watch a genre bending flick and flex your cool-kid muscles by showing a film outside of the usual slasher fare.
RULE #5: THE “AND CHILL” IS NOT A GUARANTEE
This one piggybacks off of the previous rule. For whatever reason, people have it in their heads that if they watch a horror movie with their partner and they get scared, that they’ll instinctively see their date as a worthy protector and allow them to vulcanize the whoopee stick. A lot of people make the rookie mistake of picking a film they intentionally know is garbage because they assume that they’re going to be making the beast with two backs and won’t have to pay attention to the film, only to be stuck watching this horrible decision when the “and chill” part doesn’t happen. People make the assumption that if you are watching a bad movie that the date will turn sexy simply to avoid watching the film, when in reality, it makes you look like you have terrible taste in movies and your date will want to go home and binge-watch HELLEVATOR on their own time.
RULE #6: DOWNLOAD SHUDDER
N&C isn’t exclusive to Netflix, although it is the most common. If you’re a horror fan, you really, REALLY should have a subscription to Shudder by now. The films are curated by experts and you’ll be able to impress your date by showing them something the probably haven’t ever seen. Your options are greater and you’ll really have a chance to get to know the person discussing subgenres and have the opportunity to judge whatever tastes they may possess.
RULE #7: DON’T BE AFRAID TO WATCH A SECOND MOVIE
If your experiences are anything like mine, the first movie is always a buffer to break tension and a means to show-off your exquisite horror taste. The second one is usually some old Roger Corman film that, while excellent, can easily be watched while simultaneously fooling around. Can speak from experience that it’s definitely possible.
Of course, common sense dating suggestions like “dress cute but comfy” and “clean up the piles of pizza boxes you’ve sworn you’ll get around to recycling from off of our living room floor” also apply to Netflix & Chill. These rules are merely suggestions to help you make the best of your N&C experiences, but will do you absolutely no good if you cannot adhere to being a good and consensual date. Remember to have fun, keep it clean, keep it safe, and always be sure to rate the film when you’re done.