My date I forced to speed-watch Downton Abbey never called me backUNSPLASH / OSCAR VARGAS (

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. I’ve not murdered anyone. Nor am I living an immoral double life that nobody knows about. I’ve done something worse. For the past year, I’ve watched every TV show and every film at 3x speed. Though the Hinge date I forced to speed-watch Downton Abbey never called me back, cranking up my Netflix playback speed has become a ritual. And, however hard I try, I can’t stop.

Why do people get so angry when they discover that I like speed-watching TV shows?

So, why do people get so angry when they discover that I like speed-watching TV shows? I’ve argued with HSPSers about Marxism. I’ve even gone toe-to-toe with Geography students about maps and colouring in. But no opinion gives rise to more red-faced fury than my speed-watching habits. Why does innocent speed-watching irk Marxists more than the global extraction of surplus value? Why does it bother geographers more than colouring outside the lines?

Aaron Paul, star of Breaking Bad, has tried to answer these questions. In a venomous Twitter thread, he pleaded with Netflix not to introduce a playback speed feature, arguing that it would allow people to “completely take control of everyone else’s art and destroy it”. Judd Apatow, American comedian and director, was less diplomatic with his plea urging Netflix not to “fuck with our timing. We give you nice things. Leave them as they were intended to be seen”.

However hard I try, I can’t stop

As someone desperate to justify their weird late-night Netflix habits, I can’t help but think that, underlying Paul and Apatow’s seething Twitter threads, lies a poisonous double standard. Though Paul derides sped-up Netflix shows for taking control of someone’s art, all TV critics do the same. Quentin Tarantino is allowed to insist that Godzilla is a slave-trade story in disguise. Internet bloggers have free rein in hailing Toy Story 3 as a polemic against industrial capitalism. So, when someone substantially changes the meaning of films - and explicitly subverts the director’s intentions - they get a column in The Guardian and applause from The Academy. When someone makes the character’s voices slightly higher-pitched, they aren’t even allowed a seat at the table.

But the fact that TV critics are lauded, and lowly speed-watchers are lambasted, points to something even more important. For every proud speed-watcher, there’s a closeted thousand hiding in the wings. With 40% of young people watching videos at 2x speed, there’s a group of people who hide in speed-watching Reddit threads, longing for the day they are accepted by their friends and family. As Aaron Paul launches his tirade around the dinner table, his teenage nephew is probably silently shovelling his food, too scared and ashamed to tell his uncle of his chronic speed-watching habits.


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Now, I’ll admit, if you had an axe to grind at the beginning of this article, it’s probably done little to convince you of speed-watching’s merits. You probably think that watching Richard Curtis’ Love Actually in 38 minutes, or finishing Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad in 3 days, is as depraved as you did at the beginning. But next time you come across a speed-watcher, please don’t confront them with the same sound and fury. We are people, too - I promise.