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Is The Netflix Shuffle Feature All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Is the Netflix shuffle feature all it’s cracked up to be?

 

“What do you want to watch?” you ask.

“Whatever, I don’t mind.” they reply.

Urgh!” you moan in harmony.

 

We all know how it goes. That endless scroll through Netflix with what seems like an infinite number of options. Romcom or action? Documentary or original series? Horror or comedy?

 

Well, the new Netflix shuffle option promises to solve your biggest TV nightmare by making the choice for you. The algorithm considers your previously watched shows, things you’ve put on your watch list (and then completely forgotten about… as we all do) or even a series you’ve already started.

 

On the surface, it seems like a miracle feature. This could save time, energy and possibly even marriages. But in practice, is this new feature all that it’s cracked up to be?

 

I took it upon myself to conduct an experiment. I allowed Netflix five shuffles to find me a film or series that I will really enjoy. After which, I would judge Netflix’s choices and decide whether this shuffle feature really is going to save lives. So yeah, basically, I gave myself an excuse to watch a truckload of TV.

 

The results? Well, I’d say that I’m 50/50. Its first selection for me was Shrek. Which, to be fair, is one of my absolute favourites so I can’t really complain. The only issue is, I have already watched it about 100 times. In fairness to Netflix, I don’t think I’ve ever watched it on Netflix… or at least not on this specific account. So how was it to know? Well, precisely, it doesn’t. It’s just worth noting that if you’ve watched something on Sky, Amazon Prime or basically any other channel or streaming service, Netflix won’t know about it.

 

My second issue was that it suggested I carry on with The Vampire Diaries. Don’t get me wrong, I loved watching it when I was 16 and desperate for a vampire boyfriend but after six seasons and a lot of drama, I decided to give up on it. Unfortunately for Netflix, four years later I am not overly excited by the prospect of now starting season seven. Third time lucky?

 

Third time lucky. In fact, apart from the first two attempts all of the other suggestions were pretty good! I can’t say I’m uncontrollably hooked on any of the specific series the algorithm chose for me, but that’s probably a reflection of my busy schedule and not of Netflix’s new feature. I have received reports, however, that Gilmore Girls was suggested for a friend of mine who then went onto binge all seven seasons in two months. I’d say that one was a win for Netflix shuffle.

 

I suppose we can only conclude that Netflix’s new shuffle feature is doing its best. Considering that the majority of Netflix shows are bought from networks that showed their programmes a while ago, it is no surprise some already-watched shows cropped up. And how is Netflix supposed to know that my teen years are now over, and my vampire fantasy has slightly (but not fully) subsided?

 

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a Netflix original, then it’s perfect for you. Or maybe even something you’ve watched before but don’t mind watching again- also perfect. But perhaps don’t be fooled into expecting Netflix to instantly select the best show for you, because you may be disappointed.

 

“What do you want to watch?” you ask.

“Just Netflix shuffle it.” they reply.

 

 

Words by: Laura Cameron

Edited by: Dasha Pitts-Yushchenko

I'm an undergrad at the University of Leeds, studying for my degree in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies. I'm fuelled mostly by coffee, my love for dogs and my overly keen desire to share my opinions (and I have a fair few). You can usually find me phone-in-hand, scrolling through Instagram or shopping for clothes I really can’t afford.
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