My girlfriend and I used to waste way too much time and energy deciding which Netflix movie to watch. We used to. Not anymore! Here’s the story of how we stopped crappy Netflix recommendations from ruining our evenings.
Chilling Ruining Our Evening
Finally a night off!
It had been ages since my girlfriend Kim and I had an evening to ourselves.
“What do you want to do?” she asked me.
Seeing she already had an answer in mind, I didn’t answer myself. “I’m easy. You have any ideas?”
“I just wanna chill. Maybe eat dinner here then watch a movie on Netflix?”
“Perfect,” I responded, relieved she didn’t want to do something that involved me changing out of my sweatpant shorts.
Disastrous Decision Making
After a delicious dinner of lettuce wraps à la Kim, we opened up Netflix on her computer to pick a movie. It was 8:30 p.m.
“Have any movies in mind?” I asked.
“Nope,” Kim doesn’t really keep tabs on movies. “What do you suggest?”
The Netflix recommendations were the usual uninspiring heap of mostly junky Netflix Originals and sequels. I struggled to find even three movies that had a sliver of promise and pulled up their trailers on YouTube.
“How about these.”
Kim didn’t like any of them.
“Let me see,” she said as she grabbed the computer from me. She scrolled around suggesting various movies I’d either seen already or had such terrible Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB scores they weren’t worth risking our time on.
Meanwhile, I cracked open my own laptop and googled “best movies on Netflix.” Nothing.
“Let’s just watch the first one you showed me,” Kim said, exasperated.
“But you couldn’t even make it through the whole trailer!”
“I don’t care anymore. I’m tired of trying to decide.”
That movie was Tangerine. It’s about a wild day in the life of transvestites in LA, filmed on an iPhone camera.
It was 9:15 pm. We’d wasted 45 minutes.
A Terrible Experience
Tangerine was a waste of another 90 minutes. Kim thought it was bearable, but I could barely stand it. I still can’t believe it got 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.
We went to bed, both annoyed and unsatisfied. Kim clung to her side of the bed and me to mine, sleeping with our backs to each other.
Our next evening at home together was a repeat disaster.
This time we didn’t even end up watching a movie. Before we could settle on something it was too late. Kim ended up spending her night looking at recipes on the internet while I read random blog articles. Both of us would have preferred to have watched a good movie together.
I couldn’t handle another wasted evening, so I thought of an idea.
The Anti-Netflix Recommendations
Over the next few days, I rounded up the annual top ten lists of hundreds of movie critics and bloggers, asked Kim for hers, input mine, and created an algorithm. It matched our tastes with the critics and bloggers who had the most similar tastes in movies to us, then recommended movies they loved and we hadn’t seen.
Unlike Netflix recommendations, the algorithm would give us the power to fine-tune our individual taste in movies. And unlike review consolidators like Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic or IMBD, it only considered the reviews of people who shared those tastes.
I called it FaveFinder. Our next evening at home, we gave it a whirl.
Our next evening at home, we gave it a whirl.
A Slight Improvement
This time we let FaveFinder pick three possible movies, then watched the trailers to pick the one that best suited our mood. It took only ten minutes.
The movie we settled on was Foxcatcher. While neither of us loved it, at least it was no Tangerine. Plus we avoided wasting time and energy deliberating.
FaveFinder could do better though. Over the next week, I tweaked the algorithm and asked some friends to share their movie preferences too.
Ten days later, we sat down to give FaveFinder another whirl.
It strongly recommended a movie neither Kim nor I had heard about called, “The Hunt for the Wilderpeople.” Though the trailer wasn’t amazing, we went for it.
Good choice. We both loved the movie. FaveFinder had worked its magic!
FaveFinder had worked its magic!
Since that breakthrough evening, Kim and I have relied on FaveFinder to help us pick which movies to watch together and by ourselves, both on Netflix and in the theatre. It’s not perfect, but the more we watch movies, input our ratings, and fine-tune our tastes, the better it gets.
Why not give it a whirl yourself?
It takes only a couple minutes to get started and hopefully it’ll help you as much as it has Kim and I. Click here to begin.
Here’s to having great movie experiences every time,