Dear Netflix Algorithm,
I’m a Netflix subscriber, and as the father to a four-month-old, let me just say, thank you for existing. Nonetheless, my wife and I have noticed that sometimes your descriptions get a little too specific. For instance, I just looked at my Netflix category recommendations and one of the options read “Dark TV Dramas Featuring a Strong Female Lead.”
My wife and I call these Netflix Names. With a film genre, a few descriptive words and a little effort, you can make a Netflix Name for pretty much anyone or anything.
For instance, if I were a movie, you’d probably describe me as a “goofy Minnesotan comedy from the early 1980s.” If I were in a Netflix queue, I’d probably be right next to other goofy Minnesota-related comedies such as Mighty Ducks (terrible!) and Grumpy Old Men (great!).
Here are a couple improvised examples using some of your keywords:
A “family-friendly animated comedy about a monkey?”
That’s probably Curious George.
A “steamy controversial romance about forbidden love and horses?”
While I don’t know the exact way you establish your category titles, you have to admit, those are pretty odd.
Anyway, my wife and I stream Netflix on our Wii, and we tend to watch somewhat different shows. I watch guilty pleasures like Star Trek: the Next Generation; she watches shows like Say Yes to the Dress or Grey’s Anatomy. So our Netflix recommendations are somewhat hit-or-miss to begin with.
Unfortunately, it gets worse. My niece (and her mom, my sister) occasionally visit, and when they do, they watch Netflix with us. My two-year-old niece likes to watch Dora the Explorer!, and her mom likes to occasionally watch period pieces about the United Kingdom such as Downtown Abbey and The Tudors.
Consequently, your service has recently recommended a rather incongruous lineup of selections, including Hellraiser III; Pride and Prejudice; Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta and Dora the Explorer!
When you put that all together, you get the Netflix recommendations of a crazy person. The only person I can imagine watching all of those selections back to back is some sort of serial killer. He’d probably start with Hellraiser to get psyched up, find his victim at a bridal store, strangle her with a corset like one Elizabeth Bennett might wear, and then stuff the evidence into a Dora backpack while fleeing the scene and shouting elementary Spanish phrases like La familia! and ¡Vamonos!
Finally, I have to admit that I wish that Netflix didn’t have such a good memory. On the occasional Saturday night when I’m the only person awake and I don’t feel like reading, I’ll skim Netflix for something to watch. If I’ve had a beer or two, I’m usually a bit more open to your suggestions. So I’ll watch one of the Tales from the Crypt movies you recently added, or I’ll watch an old Twilight Zone episode.
Unfortunately, this affects my future recommendations, and this can be a bit embarrassing when we have guests over, as you sometimes suggest some terrible options based on my late-night Netflix flings.
For instance, just because I indulged in a guilty pleasure like Hellraiser—once!—it doesn’t mean that you ever need to inform me about the existence of a movie like Thankskilling, which you recently recommended.
For the record, your description of that fine film reads: On their way home for Thanksgiving, five college kids run afoul of a homicidal turkey and must find a way to defeat the bird before they all die.
Similarly, please never suggest anything like Cheerleader Massacre; Invasion of the Bee Girls (tagline: They’ll love the life right out of your body!) or Santa’s Slay ever again.
Still, despite your faults, we enjoy your service a great deal, so thank you.
Let me know what you think, and take care,