One night after dinner last week, I was streaming Catastrophe on my laptop in the living room when my husband, Andy, came over to see what I was watching. I braced myself for the worst. Eyeing Rob Delaney’s handsome face with a look of complete confusion — maybe even a hint of hurt? — Andy asked, “What even is this? Should I be worried?”
If we’re being honest about it, he cheated on me with a TV series first, about a decade ago, the night we cleaned up dinner, performed the eight hundred rituals associated with our daughters’ bedtimes, and queued up our first episode of The Wire. I loved nothing more than collapsing on the couch with him after a long, chaotic day to watch TV, and it was even better when we found a multi-season series so we could really lock into it over the course of a few months. We did The Office that way, and Lost, and Friday Night Lights, and the usual mid-aught suspects we’d completely missed out on when the kids were babies.
For these weeknight TV dates, I’d make a point to pile on the blankets and get comfortable, but that night — The Wire night — I guess I got too comfortable, because my lids started feeling heavy immediately, something my husband will tell you happens fairly often and drives him bananas. “Don’t fall asleep!” Andy warned. “I am NOT waiting for you!” I hadn’t seen him this pumped about watching a series since the Yankees played the Mets in the 2000 Subway Series, so I tried my hardest. To no avail. “Go ahead, I’ll catch up,” I mumbled half-asleep, but I never did. I was out the next night when he decided to watch episode two, and then I basically didn’t see my husband for three months. I’d head up to bed alone, all sad-sack in my flannel pajamas to read in bed, while he spent his evenings getting intimately involved with people named Bunk and McNulty and Omar and Stringer Bell — WOW was he infatuated with Stringer Bell! During that period, I felt compelled to monitor his google history for “Idris Elba married” searches.
Of course, Andy could argue the betrayal was fair game because it was out in the open and technically I was the one who drove him away. But it’s important to me to hold the grudge a decade later — the Golden Age of TV — so I can justify a series of my own illicit streaming infidelities: In parked cars in dark parking lots waiting for late soccer practice to end (Friends from College); hot and sweaty at the gym on the elliptical (Scandal); sneaking off in the middle of a work day (against all my rules!) because I was physically incapable of waiting to see what happened next (OMG Succession, Season 1 finale!).
If we were keeping score, I could argue that he also pushed me away — a big part of the reason I feel the need to swipe right on every Netflix and Prime offering (besides the fact that there are SO MANY ATTRACTIVE OPTIONS RIGHT NOW) is because he’s had a demanding stretch of work that’s required more late-night grinding than usual. But it’s marriage, and we’re not keeping score, and I recognize I could be a little more sympathetic to his plight. “I just want it to be like the old days,” I told him. “Remember last spring, when we watched all 73 episodes of Game of Thrones in 90 days, bonding in the way that only two people who are a decade behind the rest of the world can bond?”
“I just need a little more time,” he said. “But if you do that new Scorsese without me, it’s over.”