Netflix's algorithm is as complicated and unknowable as the universe itself. It is also patently insulting to women, to children, to Americans, etc. No Netflix session, no matter how casual or inveterate, comes without a passive-aggressive and unsolicited confrontation, an endless pimping of multiple films and TV shows that the streaming service has decided would be a good fit for our tastes. Putting aside the fact that the mere existence of this recommendation algorithm is presumptive and terrifying — the human brain is, I hope, more elaborate than the Netflix brain; somewhere out there, somebody knows that I watched The Holiday, starring Mr. Napkinhead, 12 times last month — it's also, without fail, extremely and increasingly disrespectful.
To get personal for a moment (and then for hundreds of words thereafter), I feel as if the more I watch Netflix, the more disdain Netflix has for me. Perhaps this is because Netflix, like a Cool High School Girl, knows that its most hard-core devotees are also its easiest targets for cruelty. Perhaps it's because familiarity breeds contempt, and Netflix and I are so familiar with each other that, were we ever to find ourselves somehow capable of greeting each other in two human forms, we would spit in each other's faces while crying uncontrollably. Either way, I have been a loyal Netflix customer for however the fuck long Netflix has been a thing; as such, I am regularly recommended the sorts of movies and TV shows that one might recommend to someone who has murdered their entire family in broad daylight with zero remorse. In hopes of intimidating my Netflix account into treating me with more kindness and generosity, I present the 10 most insulting titles Netflix is recommending to me today.
Hot Bot: Hot Bot, a film title Netflix classifies as "Raunchy," stars three people I've never heard of — and Angela Kinsey and Donald Faison are there, as well. It's also not rated, likely because the MPAA knew that the very act of watching this film is its own form of censorship. Hot Bot's main image is that of a horizontal, dead-eyed blonde (ostensibly the Hot Bot in question) staring blankly up at the sky as if to ask her Bot God why he hath forsaken her. Were I to click Play, I'd spend 93 minutes with "two teenage geeks" who "inadvertently find a lifelike, state-of-the-art sex robot, but must dodge that high-profile owner who lost her in order to keep her." Netflix thinks I would enjoy this. Netflix thinks I am a sociopathic pervert.
Bad Asses on the Bayou: In an age of boundless and innumerable franchises about people eating and murdering one another, there's one we've all incidentally missed out on: Bad Asses, starring Danny Glover and Danny Trejo (their unifying trait being "having the name Danny") as the titular pair. My brief research on the franchise informs me that it follows The Dannys as they engage in acts of vigilante justice, which is nice. Bad Asses on the Bayou, the third installment in the franchise, is "Exciting," "Violent," and apparently the only one in the series that's suited for me, even though the others are also on Netflix. It is yet another film about an innocent woman who has been inexplicably kidnapped by several men; in other words, it is what Netflix believes to be my dream film. Maybe it is. Maybe I am a sociopathic pervert. Do I deserve love?
Bad Roomies: Bad Roomies, a "Top Pick" for me, is about two men who put out an ad for a roommate and soon find a "mysterious, attractive" woman to live with them. What they don't know — wait for it — is that her presence will "soon tear them hilariously apart." OK. Netflix has pivoted slightly, almost imperceptibly, here. Recognizing that I have pinpointed its previous game — convincing me I am a would-be sex criminal — Netflix is now suggesting that I might enjoy watching a film that, to quote a Netflix user review, "is a piece of trash … YIKES." Netflix thinks my level of discourse is on par with another reviewer, who wrote, "The film struck multiple cords [sic] with me." Netflix thinks I am stupid.
Charlie St. Cloud: Netflix thinks I have not seen Charlie St. Cloud, a movie starring Zac Efron in which Zac Efron not only plays baseball with a ghost but also has sex in a boat-themed area and possesses a very casual form of telepathy that allows him to rescue a lady from drowning. This is grossly ignorant and negligent on Netflix's behalf.
Secrets of Great British Castles: Netflix's careful, diabolical selection of Secrets of Great British Castles packs a one-two punch of personal denigration. Another "Top Pick" for me, the series purports to delve into the lives of the most "infamous inhabitants" of Britain's most "iconic structures" via a toothy host named Dan Jones. Not only does this suggestion imply that I am unaware of the elaborate goings-on of British royalty, it also insinuates that I need a white man to explain them to me in a clipped British accent. Moreover and most significantly, this entire series is so un-American that its very existence is treasonous. Dan Jones and Netflix are oppressing both me and the entire United States.
The Holiday: As previously stated, I have seen this movie 12 times. I feel like Netflix is not paying attention to me!!!
Major League: The only thing I hate more than baseball — the watching of which has brought me to actual tears — is Charlie Sheen. The only thing I hate more than Charlie Sheen is when sports teams misappropriate native cultures. The only thing I hate more than all of these things is American comedies about sports. Netflix abhors me and wants me to be unhappy.
Law & Order SVU: I wasn't allowed to watch a lot of TV as a kid. I was allowed to read a lot of books. My AOL screen name was SVUGirl, because I loved Sweet Valley High books and SVHGirl was taken. For the duration of my childhood, everyone — my peers, my family, men on the Internet — thought I was calling myself "Special Victims Unit Girl." This show is a sensitive subject for me. Netflix is purposefully hacking open my childhood wounds.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: Netflix is only recommending this film to me because I am Jewish and I love pajamas. Talk about stereotyping. Wow.
My Girl: My Girl is a pitch-black story about the chaotic randomness of the universe, about how bad things happen to good people, about how nature wants nothing more than to wipe out our entire species and take back the planet. I understand this suggestion to be a very real threat from Netflix. In the same way that nature — as accurately represented in My Girl in the form of a swarm of remorseless bees — sees humans as frivolous life forms that must be destroyed, Netflix sees me, the only person who has thus far sensed its innate malevolence, as an impediment to its plan to dominate the world by relentlessly maligning its citizens until they bow in shame and cede all power. I am Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta, and Netflix is whoever she was fighting against; that movie was super-confusing. Netflix is trying to kill me, is my point. By recommending that I watch My Girl, Netflix is, ultimately, recommending that I accept my incontrovertible fate: a violent death at the hand of Netflix.