An Open Letter to the Netflix Algorithm I Love

An Open Letter to the Netflix Algorithm I Love

Hey Netflix, you know it’s our 5-year-anniversary this month, right?  I still remember signing up for that free trial like it was yesterday. But it wasn’t. It was 5 years ago. That’s like 15 low-impact Zooey Deschanel movies. We’ve survived them. We’ve survived them together. We’re always together.

We were so cute at first; I was a few months away from graduating high school and was gearing myself up for becoming the pretentious film-buff version of myself that I was planning to be in college. I filled up that queue with a bunch of mumbly Bill Murray movies and a whole lot of foreign films about China that used railroads as a metaphor for sexual awakenings and changing social values. You cut right through it. You saw me slip that Nicole Kidman version of “Bewitched” in between all that arty shit the day I got you and you didn’t even bat an eyelash. You kept your judgment to yourself that day over winter break when I didn’t quite get how to use your now-defunct “notes” feature and ended up sending a 2-sentence review of “Herbie: Fully Loaded” to the 3 people who reluctantly agreed to be my “friend.” You didn’t even mock me that week at the end of freshman year when college just got TOO HARD and I needed the first season of “Girlfriends” to keep me sane. We had complete discretion. Total trust. A sacred bond, if you will.

Somewhere along the line you started to know me better than I know myself.  I’m not sure how you knew to recommend me “The Fabulous Baker Boys” this last week, but it was a suggestion I really took to heart. I guess you just get me. Recommending me “Witty Supernatural Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Shows” and “Romantic Musicals from the 1950s” in the same day? How do you do that shit? Once you recommended me movies starring Kevin Costner but I really think you were just pulling my leg. You know I like a good joke here and there. That’s why I rented “Apocalypto” that one time.

You know I’ve always thought of you as so much more than a carefully tuned algorithm, but I gotta admit, sometimes I think our relationship crosses a line that man and machine probably shouldn’t cross. I mean, did I ever actually tell you that the litmus test I use to gauge how much I can tolerate a person is seeing how overenthusiastic he or she gets about “The Boondock Saints?” I really don’t recall that conversation, but there you were telling me that I’d enjoy the movie at a full 2 and a half stars less than the average customer. What about that time I was feeling really sad and you got me to laugh out loud by categorizing “Miami Ink” as an “Emotional Workplace TV Show?” Netflix, tell me honestly: are you reading my diary?

What I’m feeling these days is that we’re getting a little co-dependent. I know you need attention (and things are certainly getting hot and heavy ever since I found out that “Buffy” and “Angel” are available in their entirety on instant viewing), but you’re also keeping me from doing anything valuable with my life. If you really love me and want what’s best for me, you’d know that now’s really not the best time to try and get me into “Doctor Who.” Look, I’m in this for the long run, I’m just asking for a little bit of space. It’s like that time I was busy graduating and had “Lady Sings The Blues” sitting on my desk for almost half a year. We’ve been here before, and we can do it again. I need this – whoa, wait, is that “The Tudors!?” Just KISS me already.

Marcus Michalik may or may not have rated “Akeelah and the Bee” 5 stars.