Staying afloat on the Netflix deluge


Laurence Lopez

According to Netflix, it should only take about two minutes to choose a movie, but I think we all know that’s not true.

It’s Friday night, which means I’ll probably crash before 10 p.m. as a result of a stress-filled week. But, not before a little entertainment. What do I feel like today? An art-house A24-style indie? Psychological drama? Slap-happy comedy? Rom-com? I’m scrolling and I’m scrolling and I’m scrolling. I look at the clock and 15 minutes have passed. The tea in my Timothée Chalamet mug is lukewarm, and my eye contacts are drying out. The colorful movie thumbnails blur together more and more. 

Film after film after Netflix Original film, organized into both frustratingly broad and redundantly nuanced categories: Absurd Father-Son Comedies, Adventures for Hopeless Romantics, 1970s, Biographical Courtroom 20th-Century Period Pieces, Canadian Dysfunctional Family Dramas, Quirky Australian Independent Comedies. These are all part of a list of 23,458 searchable genres on Netflix. 

Do I even want to watch any of them?  I switch streaming sites: Hulu, then Amazon Prime, then HBO Go. Half an hour has gone by and I have lost motivation to even devote my attention to a 22-minute episode of “The Office.” To YouTube I go, knowing I can always depend on Claire, the infamous professional pastry chef, to show me how to Gourmet Make and use a food dehydrator. 

The problem is, there’s just too much stuff on Netflix, and the overload is suffocating users, choking every person who’s looking for a relaxing night of entertainment with all of its originals and wannabe “brutally honest” coming-of-age dramas. I know that when I first started using Netflix as my go-to for TV and movies, it was super easy to find something I liked. It was all accessible, nothing was hidden and the genres in which everything was organized were clearly marked. And once Netflix started making their own material, it had its own category as well. So how did the place get so crowded to the point where I spend half a movie’s worth of time trying to pick something?

Netflix’s eagerness to put out as much of its own content as possible has sacrificed the streaming site’s accessibility. Netflix started to put out their own stuff in February of 2013 with “House of Cards,” starring K*vin Sp*cey. Netflix only put out five pieces of original content that year, including everyone’s beloved “Orange Is the New Black.” By 2014, that number had reached 10. Netflix’s original content, though, grew exponentially after 2014. The streaming service took advantage of the major success of a handful of their original pieces and ran with it. 

Netflix ran a marathon with it, a marathon they’re still running. In May 2018, Netflix’s chief content officer estimated that the streaming site would have around 1,000 Netflix Originals on top of the content for which they had purchased streaming rights.

The result is that I now almost dread going to Netflix to try and find something new to watch, because I know I’m going to be accosted with categories filled with the same Netflix Original mumbo-jumbo and end up getting frustrated. Now, when I decide that I am going to use Netflix, I decide what I want to watch first and then search it up, in an effort to avoid added stress. 

So Netflix, you need to calm down. We love you, me and all the binge-watchers alike. Keep on doing what you’re doing, just less, so that we’re excited to browse through the romance and documentary sections without constantly seeing the thumbnail forBright.” By the way, whoever let Will Smith do that needs to be fired. And stop promoting “Tall Girl” to me. It’s embarrassing for you. Seriously. With a bigger focus on quality over quantity, I hope that on a Friday night in the near future, I’ll be able to find a movie I want to watch and eat unmelted Mint Chocolate Cookie ice cream from the pint.