If You Think There’s Nothing to Watch on Netflix, You’re Doing It Wrong

I’ve spent a good number of blog posts reviewing lots of great movies and TV shows to be found on Netflix. However, I continue to be surprised when I read comments on various news articles focused on Netflix. (Maybe I should just be surprised I’m reading the comments sections. I typically avoid them.) People seem to consistently complain that Netflix has “nothing good on.” That its streaming collection is a full of junk and garbage that no one in their right mind would want to watch.

If you want to argue that there are some awful shows and movies on Netflix, I won’t bat an eye. There definitely are. But here’s the thing: it’s the same case everywhere. Subscribing to cable or satellite? There’s a ton of awful programming. But guess what? Netflix is $8/month for streaming. I have no idea how much you pay for cable or satellite, but I’m willing to bet you’re paying a lot more.

I’m a self-confessed movie and tv show junkie. I watch a slew of programs and films, and it’s rare that I watch a repeat. I’ve been without satellite for years–getting by on an almost exclusive diet of Netflix Instant. And I almost never watch a show that was a waste of time. A show I regret having seen or spent time on after it’s over. I consider myself to have fairly good taste (but really, don’t we all?), and I still have a Queue that’s over 100 titles deep–and I’m adding more titles to it all the time.

(In fact, I just recently finally canceled my disc rental plan–the last defense I had when I worried I’d have nothing to watch. I actually watch so few movies via that service that it just stopped making sense. It’s $60/year.)

And yet CNN writes idiotic articles bemoaning movies that are being taken out of Netflix’s catalog (and then even dumber articles noting when movies are being added). Newsflash, people: Netflix takes movies out and adds movies all the time, typically at the start of each new month. And then on each of these articles, we read gems of insight in the comments section. Insight like

Thank goodness for the bootleg sites; otherwise, I’d have to waste my money on Netflix that doesn’t even have any good movies.

Ugh. Don’t get me started. In any case, I thought it might be helpful to once again go over how to properly use Netflix. Because there’s a right way and a wrong way, peoples. Ready? Here we go.

  1. Rate movies. Seriously. Go on to Netflix, and rate a ton of movies. The more the merrier. The more information you give Netflix on what your tastes are, the easier it’s going to be for it to guess what you’re going to like or dislike. As of this instant, I’ve rated 2,169 things on Netflix. It’s gotten to the point that it almost never guesses wrong for a movie I’m going to watch that I haven’t seen yet. I can’t say how it works for people who don’t rate movies on the service, because I’ve never been silly enough to be one of those people. The ratings suggestions are one of the prime tools for the site. Use them.
  2. Give up the perceived need to see a specific movie or title, and embrace the idea of watching a genre or subgenre. Netflix is very frustrating for people who want to watch something very specific–a certain movie or show–because there’s no guarantee that it’ll have that specific movie or show. That’s how the cookie crumbles. If you want to watch that movie or show, subscribe to the disc delivery service. It’ll get it to you in a couple of days. Don’t use Netflix Instant. Being mad that the service doesn’t have it, and then going into a rage because Netflix “has nothing good” just reminds me of people who come into my library and get upset because we have “nothing.” We have tens of thousands of books and magazines and DVDs. We just *don’t* have the one thing you happened to be looking for. smh
  3. Ignore Netflix recommendations. Seriously. I have no idea what algorithm the site uses for this junk, but it’s dreck. Why in the world do they recommend movies that they think I’m going to give 2.3 stars, when there are movies in the same category that they think I’m going to give 4.2 stars? This makes no sense to me. If I could wish anything, it would be that Netflix would improve this aspect of its system. I’d love a way to just limit the movies I see to films it thinks I’ll give 3.5 stars or more to. Have it be a toggle button, so I can turn that feature on or off easily. (Sometimes I really want a stupid movie. What can I say? I’m like that.)
  4. Use sites like Instantwatcher, a lovely site that highlights new movies on Netflix. It also lets you search their offerings by many more facets than Netflix itself does. Arrange by Rottentomatoes’ rating, or NYT rating, or MPAA rating. There’s also the excellent hackingnetflix, which highlights new offerings on disc and streaming.
  5. For Netflix itself, add movies and show to your Queue using the online version of the site. This lets you sort movies by estimated rating. Go into the genre you’re interested in checking out, select a subgenre if you like, and then sort by Highest Rated. Bam! All the best movies come to the top. So much easier than trying to do it through one of Netflix’s apps. Note that these ratings are individually tailored to YOU (because you went and rated a ton of movies, right?) They’re not aggregate estimates. I love that.

Just following these four simple steps, Netflix has never let me down. I realize perhaps my own experience is unique, but I doubt it. Anyone out there have bad experiences–and followed this guide’s advice–who’d like to differ?  Let me know in the comments.

1 thought on “If You Think There’s Nothing to Watch on Netflix, You’re Doing It Wrong”

  1. I have Netflix , Hulu , and max . They are all cheaper than Netflix and they add newer tv options a lot more often. I don’t hate Netflix but they honestly don’t add anything new . If they keep the same stuff on there for that amount of money and never add any new then yes people are going to complain. We don’t pay to watch the same stuff on there. They have a few good movies , a few good shows , and that is it . That’s only truth

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