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Netflix Wants to Return Agency to Humans With New Curated Collections

Netflix is currently beta-testing human-curated "collections" in an effort to put the power of viewership back in the hands of actual people over artificial intelligence.


Netflix’s “Mindhunter”

Patrick Harbron/Netflix

Remember the long-gone days when Netflix users were able to rate and even review films and TV series on the streaming site with more than just a mere thumbs up or down? Well, it seems that Netflix wants to bring back that time when its content was dictated by more than a veritable Rube Goldberg machine of complex algorithms designed to target and reduce your taste to empirical data.

As first reported by TechCrunch, Netflix is currently beta-testing human-curated “collections” in an effort to return agency to actual people over artificial intelligence. “We’re always looking for new ways to connect our fans with titles we think they’ll love, so we’re testing out a new way to curate Netflix titles into collections on the Netflix iOS app,” a Netflix rep said in a statement.

Take a look at what these collections might look like:

The Netflix move may be in response to a recent promotional website created by HBO touting titles “Recommended by Humans.” So far, the Netflix collections assembled include “Watch in One Night,” “Oddballs & Outcasts,” “Just for Laughs,” “Netflix Is a Joke,” “Dark & Devious TV Shows,” “Watch, Gasp, Repeat,” “Artful Adventures,” and “Critics Love These Shows.”

There was a time when Netflix hosted packages and genres far less generic than the current offerings. (This writer’s personal favorite? “Psychosexual Dramas Featuring a Strong Female Lead.”) Amid recent controversies that Netflix is canceling shows simply at the behest of its algorithms, the move to put content curation back in the hands of subscribers seems smart. Right now, the test is only available on the Netflix iOS app and to a limited subset of the subscriber base.

Netflix recently suffered a challenging second quarter with 126,000 lapsed subscribers, but hopefully viewers will be tuning back in as awards season rolls out a surfeit of high-profile titles, including Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” and more.

In other Netflix news, if you happen to be on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood this weekend, there’s a fan hunger-striking outside the company’s headquarters in protest of the recent cancelation of cult hit series “The OA.”

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