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Netflix shuffle: is the new ‘play something’ feature worth it? | Culture

If you go surfing to Netflix any time quickly, you’re more likely to see the phrases “play one thing” dangling beneath the profile icons on the menu display. Click on these phrases and also you’ll be taken on to the platform’s newest experiment in house leisure: drive feeding.

Everybody, sooner or later or one other, has suffered from Netflix’s tyranny of selection; not sure of what to look at, you end up endlessly scrolling by way of submenus in the hope that you just’ll discover one thing – something – that manages to satisfy all your wants.

The “play one thing” button exists to cast off that. Press it and also you’ll be mechanically provided a present that the Netflix algorithm has decided will fit your tastes. And this is smart. In any case, Netflix has a mountain of information in your viewing habits. It is aware of what you’ve watched, while you’ve watched it, how lengthy you watched it for and the exact second you bought bored. It already tailors its menus to your style – even all the way down to the look of a present’s thumbnail icons – so it looks like the subsequent logical step to easily offer you what it thinks you need.

However is it any good? I just lately spent a day taking part in with play one thing, in the hope that it could deliver me my new favorite present. Right here’s how the experiment went.

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{Photograph}: AF archive/Alamy

First choose: Parks and Recreation. A fairly good effort. Netflix is aware of that I’ve watched nearly each different Parks and Rec-style US sitcom out there on the service, so it was a no brainer to assume that I might need to watch this. The issue is, although, that I’ve already watched Parks and Recreation, all the approach by way of, twice. I simply hadn’t watched it on Netflix which, so far as Netflix is involved, is the similar as by no means having watched it in any respect. On condition that the bulk of Netflix’s catalogue nonetheless consists of buy-ins from different networks, this challenge might crop up rather a lot.

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{Photograph}: Everett Assortment Inc/Alamy

Second choose: Arrested Improvement. Once more, nice selection. True, I had watched the first three seasons on TV, after which I purchased them on DVD and watched them so typically that I by no means must see it once more, however no less than Netflix understood my style. Nevertheless, Netflix didn’t supply me the (good) first episode of Arrested Improvement from its (good) first season. It provided me a (horrible) episode from its (horrible) fifth season. Nor was this a random episode. In reality, I bailed on season 5 the day it was launched, distraught {that a} sequence I used to like had change into such a lumpen mess. Netflix was providing me the episode after the episode I bailed on, in the hope I’d give it a second likelihood. Bit needy, Netflix.

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{Photograph}: Steve Wilkie/Cbc/ITV/Kobal/Shutterstock

Third choose: Schitt’s Creek. As soon as once more, Netflix is aware of me. However apparently not sufficient to know that I had already watched all of Schitt’s Creek on my spouse’s profile. Subsequent!

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{Photograph}: NBC/NBCU Photograph Financial institution/NBCUniversal through Getty Pictures

Fourth choose: Neighborhood. Nice! I really like Neighborhood! I do know this as a result of, like Parks and Recreation, I had already watched it earlier than it arrived on Netflix. Possibly the fifth time could be a attraction.

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{Photograph}: NBC/NBCUniversal/Getty Pictures

Fifth choose: The Workplace. Nope. Seen it. Noticed it on ITV2 when it debuted in the UK. At this level I used to be beginning to want that the Netflix algorithm might acquire full sentience, enter my mind and steal a full checklist of each tv sequence I had ever watched on any platform over the course of my total life, so it could be capable of present me one thing new. Which most likely isn’t a really wholesome factor to want from a giant tech firm, in all honesty.

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{Photograph}: AP

Sixth choose: Stowaway. This was Netflix getting determined. It had deserted the tried and true technique of simply exhibiting me widespread American sitcoms from the final 15 years and was now giving me a new film that was driving excessive in the high ten. The excellent news was that I had not beforehand watched Stowaway. The dangerous information was that, after 20 minutes, I realised that I positively wasn’t in the temper to look at Anna Kendrick emote in house, and ducked out.

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{Photograph}: NBC/NBCU Photograph Financial institution/Getty Pictures

Seventh choose: Superstore. Lastly, a hit. I’ve by no means watched Superstore earlier than – I’d by no means even actually heard of it – but it surely had all the hallmarks of one thing I would really like. It’s a contemporary American sitcom. It’s broad and foolish and tender, and has a staggeringly proficient solid. I used to be laughing inside minutes of watching it. I Googled it, and located a Vox article entitled ‘How Superstore obtained so good’. At that time I used to be in, and wolfed up six episodes in a row. It won’t be my favorite present of all time, but it surely is distinctive TV consolation meals. I’m going to look at all of Superstore, and I’m going to like it. Guys, Superstore is actually good. Why did no person inform me? Thanks, Netflix.

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{Photograph}: Paramount

Eighth choose: Love and Monsters. This felt like one other instance of Netflix simply serving up one thing just because it was widespread. Love and Monsters may be nice, but it surely wasn’t for me at that particular time. Experiment over.

By my reckoning, play one thing has an 87.5% failure fee. In eight makes an attempt, solely as soon as did it supply one thing {that a}) I hadn’t already seen and b) I truly needed to look at. It appears to be the streaming equal of shopping for somebody a e-book for his or her birthday. Netflix and I’ve been collectively for lengthy sufficient that it assumes I do know what I like. However my tastes are sophisticated and flighty, and I carry lots of baggage. The probabilities of it hitting my candy spot at any given time are vanishingly small. And moreover, solely a monstrous egotist would purchase somebody a e-book for his or her birthday.

Play One thing is enjoyable, however my guess is that it’ll be a novelty. Individuals will strive it a couple of times out of curiosity after which abandon it in favour of issues they know they’ll like. It’s a pleasant strive, but it surely’s mainly channel hopping. Wasn’t Netflix supposed to finish all that?

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