Netflix diplomacy is coming to Cuba.
Nearly two months after President Barack Obama announced new efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, Netflix today said it will begin offering service plans on the island.
“We are delighted to finally be able to offer Netflix to the people of Cuba, connecting them with stories they will love from all over the world,” Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings said in a statement. “Cuba has great filmmakers and a robust arts culture and one day we hope to be able to bring their work to our global audience of over 57 million members.”
But don't expect Cubans to start livestreaming House of Cards anytime soon. Only about 5 percent of the people on the island has access to fixed broadband internet and most Cubans don't have credit cards — much less the kind of disposable income needed to purchase a monthly subscription to Netflix. The average Cuban's monthly wage is about $17, according to the National Statistics and Information Bureau, so they'd be forking over almost half their monthly salary for a $7.99 Netflix subscription.
But for the first Cubans who do sign up, Netflix programing is sure to confirm their worst suspicions about life in United States. Here's how.
- U.S. politics is a ruthless game
The Castro brothers have long warned the Cuban people about the cynicism and corruption of the U.S. political system. But nothing can prepare Cubans for “House of Cards.”
On a positive note, Frank Underwood's administration makes the real U.S. government look gentle in comparison.
- The state of American journalism
Another insight into a corrupt American institution, courtesy of “House of Cards.”Cubans will be shocked to see how ethically challenged the journalists are at the Washington Herald and the web-savvy “Slugline.” For the record, Cuba, American journalism is not this bad (yet).
- Wow, America’s prison system is kinda nuts
“Orange is the New Black” is a mostly exaggerated and/or even fictional account of Piper Kerman’s memoir about her year behind bars, but there’s still plenty of crazy that’s real.
First of all, Kerman really was part of an international drug-smuggling ring, thanks to her ill-fated, brief relationship with a woman while she was in her 20s. She also served time in the same cell as that woman after being named as part of the drug ring. And there was a crazy chef who ran the kitchen and refused to serve Piper Chapman — Kerman’s nom de plume in prison — for a while after she insulted her cooking.
- What was all that North Korea controversy about late last year?
International tension between the U.S. and North Korea bubbled up late last year amid the pending release of “The Interview,” a satirical film that shows the head of Kim Jong-un getting blown off.
After hacks the U.S. has blamed on North Korea and further threats, Sony pulled the film from theaters. Then, after criticism, they reinstated the film in some theaters. Soon, they expanded to offering rentals of “The Interview” — and late last month, it premiered on Netflix.
Now, Cubans can finally see what all the hype and controversy was about. Spoiler alert: mostly fart jokes.
- American-made global warming has made a mess of the planet
The left-leaning countries of Latin America often blame climate change on the United States. The 2013 film Sharknado will prove them right, and show that storm systems in the U.S. have gotten even more extreme than the Cubans ever imagined.
The same movie will also reaffirm another commonly held perception in Cuba: most Hollywood films are crap.
- Cubans are still cast as 'bad guys' in some shows
Like everyone else, Cubans will struggle to figure out the time period of the TV show “Archer," which one minute is talking about the Cold War and Fidel Castro and the next making Dane Cook-inspired jokes. There’s one episode Cubans might find particularly interesting — the one in which super spy Sterling Archer is charged with seducing a gay Cuban agent who has stolen his mother’s sensitive video.
The show will also confirm Cubans' suspicions that Americans are confused about ISIS.
- American workplace culture was really backward
Cubans could find themselves binge watching “Mad Men,” which has been praised for its realistic portrayal of a 1960s workplace on New York's Madison Ave. There’s constant drinking, smoking, promiscuity, and adultery. And then there’s the rampant sexism, bigotry, and racism of the U.S. workplace — basically it's everything the Cubans have been told about corporate life in a capitalist nation.
Brett LoGiurato is the senior national political correspondent at Fusion, where he covers all things 2016. He'll give you everything you need to know about politics, with a healthy side of puns.