Tracing the origins of 'Netflix and chill'

The compound-noun "Netflix and chill" is casually used by students as an invitation to hook up. The Twitter handle @Start3rpack put together a collage of the necessities for a "Netflix and chill" hangout: casual clothes (for the Netflixing) and a condom (for the not-chilling). (Courtesy/@Start3rpack)

Recently, it has been virtually impossible to log onto Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or most other forms of social media without encountering numerous memes of the once-innocuous phrase, “Netflix and chill.” Even reputable news sources have attempted to get in on this slang phenomenon, such as when NBC News ran a headline on the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 16 that read, “Netflix Outage Disrupts Chill Sessions Across the U.S.”  

“Netflix and chill” began as a regular, descriptive phrase. In a more innocent time, a tired student may have exclaimed after a long day of midterms, “Wow, I can’t wait to get home to watch Netflix and chill!”

However, according to a recent definition on Urban Dictionary, “Netflix and chill” now refers to a “subtle way to lure a girl to come over to your place, initially as just a ‘friend,’ so that it can lead to an opportunity of getting intimate with her while something is playing on Netflix.” 

According to Fusion, a multi-platform media company, the first recorded tweet of the phrase was by the user @nofacenina on January 22, 2009, two years after Netflix first began offering their video streaming service. “I’m about to log onto Netflix and chill for the rest of the night,” she wrote on that fateful day. 

It appears that within two years of this tweet, by 2011, “Netflix and chill” became a verb-phrase. Take a look at @ICarlie’s tweet on July 31 of that year: “Bouta Watch Some Netflix & Chill My Body Hurt.”

The following year—2012—people began to refer to “Netflix and chill” as a compound noun. It no longer required a preceding verb or verb phrase, like “watching” or “about to watch.” For example, “It’s time to Netflix and chill,” someone may have told their roommate on a Sunday afternoon. 

Yet by November 2014, with the rise of the “starter pack” meme on Twitter, @Start3rPack tweeted the “Netflix and chill” kit, which composed of Nike socks and sweatpants, a white t-shirt and, of course, a condom. 

After five years of young men and women hooking up in basements while their naïve parents simply thought they were watching “The Office,” the new innuendo was officially stated.

Many believe the rise of the “Netflix and chill” meme is due to the fact that it’s a low pressure way for young people to ask each other to hook up. 

James Steel, a third semester mathematics and economics major, explained why he believes it’s become so popular.

“It's just a way for people who don't feel comfortable enough with someone to ask to have sex and it also gives that other person an easy way out,” Steel said.


Helen Stec is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at helen.stec@uconn.edu.