If you liked

I have a confession.

Sometimes I don’t know what to watch on Netflix. Sometimes I’ve just had enough of watching Doctor Who and Upstairs, Downstairs and even Paul Newman. Sometimes I just want to see something I haven’t seen before.

So what do I do? I turn to Netflix to see what it can suggest for me. It magically delivers movies right to my television. Surely it can peer into my brain and have its algorithms magically intuit what I want to discover.

Here’s what Netflix is telling me:

Since I recently watched Doctor Who, I will want to watch My Little Pony. No, no I won’t. But when I tweeted my surprise at that recommendation (which then got retweeted a few times) I learned that maybe yes, yes I do. According to one tweeter, there’s a high correlation between Who fans and bronies. In fact, that tweeter hunted down a number of other folks tweeting about My Little Pony to explain to them that Doctor Who fans and Star Trek fans and My Little Pony fans are all one and the same. I’m not sure any of us were convinced.

Because I’ve watched Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. (a compilation of Keaton shorts, all of which are thoroughly enjoyable, especially if you’re watching them with a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old) and Gosford Park (which is way way way better than Downton Abbey in that it is smarter, funnier, subtler, and heartbreakinger), Netflix has paired them to create a category called “Crime Movies.” So based on my interest in Sherlock Jr. and Gosford Park, I will be interested in the top-rated Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (too too true, though it’s a crime movie only in the way that the other two are also not crime movies), the most popular The Lincoln Lawyer (definitely a crime movie, but while I do love Harry Bosch, I’m not a big Mickey Haller fan), as well as the Dragon Tattoo trilogy (yes! horrible violence and is-it-or-isn’t-it misogyny!), Chinatown (fill in your own joke here), Kick-Ass (I actually don’t know this one, and the description of it is not convincing me I want to), and Return of the Pink Panther (because that’s a crime movie, yessirreebob). Okay then, maybe not.

Further down the screen, Netflix recognizes that I have an interest in “witty crime movies” (true enough) based on the fact that I’ve watched — you guessed it — Sherlock Jr. and Gosford Park. This time, it suggests Arsenic and Old Lace, The Way of the Gun, How to Steal a Million, Witness for the Prosecution, Evil under the Sun, and A Night in Casablanca. Apparently witty crime movies are things made long ago, unless they involve Ryan Phillippe and Benicio del Toro, because sexy modern movie stars definitely equally witty intellect.

But if you combine Sherlock Jr with Office Space, Netflix will generate “comedies.” Some of these suggestions are spot-on. I’ve seen them and I’ve loved them. Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog will never get stale, never ever ever. Of course, I own the DVD, with all the extras, but it’s nice to know that I can watch it at work and on my phone and, well, ahem. Back to the subject at hand. The Big Lebowski was plenty enjoyable when I saw it (though, unlike many of the movie’s fans, I only saw it the once). Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Is that really a comedy? I do enjoy it, though, as long as I skip over the offensive racist parts. This Is Spinal Tap is, naturally, sheer genius (even if I can’t figure out how to get an umlaut over my n). Based on that track record, I think Netflix is right that I might enjoy The Trip, a mockumentary from Michael Winterbottom with Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden as a couple of actors on a foodie road trip across England. That’s right up my alley. And I have friends who love Louis C.K., so I’m willing to say that his Hilarious probably isn’t a far-fetched recommendation either, even though my gut tells me I won’t like it. But TEDTalks: Smart Laughs? Are you fucking kidding me? And Daniel Tosh: Completely Serious? You’d have to kill me to get me to watch those.

At least I’ll get to watch The Trip first.

Sarah Werner has two sons, at least one job, and too many books to read. As a result, Netflix Instant is her constant companion. She blogs about books and reading and is known to a corner of the twitterverse as @wynkenhimself.

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