“I had an INSANE weekend,” my friend texted me on Sunday night. “I watched three series of The West Wing and I’m exhausted.” And then I realised I was pretty knackered from my weekend too because I’d watched the last series of Dawson’s Creek for the sixty-eighth time — and it had been an emotional seven hours.
While my friends and I used to measure the success of a night — and how well we were making the most of our youth — by how late we’d stayed in a club, how much further into our overdrafts the last round of Sambucas had pushed us, and how many weird people we’d bonded with in the smoking area, now it’s all about how much stamina we have for TV.
Nobody goes out anymore because they’re all inside watching things. And it’s the best thing humans have ever decided to do. Clubs used to be rammed with people crying as the DJ yet again ignored their song request (even though they’d typed it out on their phone and showed him) and played another Ke$ha remix. And there were always at least two friendships which were temporarily over forever, an existential crisis in a toilet cubicle and a three hour night bus cradling limp, ketchup-less chips.
I’m actually astounded it’s taken so long for clubbing to go into decline, but I suppose, like gambling, people forget how bad it can feel until they give it another go.
And it’s not just clubs I’ve shunned for TV, it’s my social life, too. It’s not that I don’t like my friends (or, at least, I like some of them), but I recently found myself telling a uni friend I couldn’t go for drinks with her after all, because I really needed to watch the second half of Elf. And she didn’t even blink an eye, because she’d taken a day of annual leave specifically to re-watch all of The OC.
Being young and free is no longer about being able to go on crazy nights out, it’s about knowing you can watch Netflix non-stop from Friday night until (early) Monday morning and have no children or marriage or mortgage getting in your way. That is now the luxury of youth. In fact, London’s housing crisis and the fact that none of us will be able to afford kids until we’re fifty, only gives us more time to get through more box-sets in peace.
When my Polish grandmother asks, as she does on my annual visit to the Homeland, when I’m going to marry my boyfriend (she asks even when I’m not going out with anyone) and have a baby, I usually try to shock her Catholic sensibilities by saying “probably never” — but inside I’m thinking “well, obviously I’ll know I’m ready when I can bear the thought of getting interrupted at a crucial point in a series finale. If I can imagine an infant screaming through that bit when Joey chooses Pacey, then I’ll be a proper adult and can procreate.”
So for now, all that will have to wait because I’m busy planning my next epic weekend. I might even invite some friends round to watch The West Wing. But only if they sit very quietly and let me enjoy my youth.