illustration of barack obama giving a speech

It’s a euphemism, bruh.

To Netflix and chill or not to Netflix and chill? That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous memes or take arms against a sea of euphemisms for sex.

So, yeah. Netflix and chill just means sex. From its beginnings on Black Twitter, the phrase originated as a sly take on the offer to come over so we can watch “Netflix and chill,” when what was actually intended was getting down. As the meme moved across the Internet, it gradually lost its moorings and simply became another term for doing the nasty. Much like, well, “doing the nasty.”

Evidence: Earlier this week, streaming music service Spotify published a playlist entitled “Netflix & Chill.” After the company noticed thousands of its users were creating their own “Netflix & Chill” playlists, it aggregated the 20 most popular songs from all of those lists to create the “Netflix & Chill” playlist of record.

Here’s the thing. This playlist reveals something profoundly important about us as a society: We have literally no idea what we’re doing when it comes to romance.

Firstly, if you’re going to Netflix and chill, why would you even need to play Spotify in the background? The soundtrack to Netflix and chilling is the dulcet tones of a documentary about high-end restaurants and the soft, desperate weeping of BoJack Horseman.

Secondly, many of the songs on the list indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of what Netflix and chill actually means. It doesn’t just imply any type of fooling around. Rather, it’s a very particular type of fooling around—the type of fooling around that starts by silently sitting on the couch, moves to some light necking, and is then followed by ellipses.

The first song on the playlist, Ginuwine’s “Pony,” is not a song that fits this mood. “Pony” is a club banger, as is Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do” and R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix).”

The list has four songs by Canadian R&B star the Weeknd. These tracks technically work, but if the Weekend invites you to Netflix and chill, don’t take him up on the offer. Seriously, run the other way. Listen to the lyrics of any Weeknd song. Dude is creepy.

The moral of this story is that we should be ashamed of ourselves. Collectively, we are garbage people when it comes to making Netflix and chill playlists. President Barack Obama, on the other hand, is really, really good at it.

Last month, Obama put together a pair of summer playlists because maybe being a lame duck president is actually kind of boring. The playlists are divided into “day” and “night.” The day playlist is perfect for summer BBQs. The night playlist, on the other hand, is perfect for getting down. Not just getting down, but getting down in a way that is thoroughly “and chill.”

Obama’s playlist has Nina Simone, Frank Ocean, D’Angelo, John Coltrane, and Leonard Cohen. All of the songs have Netflix to spare. It is infinitely better than our crowdsourced collective wisdom of the Spotify and chill generation. 

We should all take notes.

Illustration by Max Fleishman

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