Streaming Site Suggestions: Love Them or Hate Them?
What's the weirdest recommendation you've gotten for something to watch on a streaming service? Did you watch it?
I'm not talking about a friend or relative saying "You need to watch this", because those are coming from people who should have some clue about your likes and preferences. I'm talking about the stuff that the streaming service itself, be it Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, etc., suggests based on what you've previously watched. The stuff that makes you think, "What the heck did I watch that they thought I'd be interested in this?".
Personally, I tend to skip over the recommendations, because in my opinion, they generally fall into one of two categories: stuff that shows up because I've watched it multiple times and stuff that I have no interest in whatsoever.
However, once in a while, a third category appears, one that makes me think this is how the recommendation section should work; stuff that I would never go looking for on my own, but winds up being pretty interesting once I give it a chance.
When this third category appears, I've wound up bingeing Ken Burns documentaries that I normally only seem to find when PBS is doing their fund-raising. I've sat spellbound at a behind-the-scenes look at how a luxury cruise ship operates. I've watched a lot of travel shows, when pre-COVID, I'd have gone right past them or only had them on for background noise while I was doing something else. I found full Charlie Chaplin and Marx Brothers movies, where before I'd only seen clips on YouTube videos.
Earlier this month, I had two entries join the roster in that oh-so-rare third category: a documentary on kabuki, of all things, and the full performance of the kabuki from the documentary, both in Japanese with subtitles. Two things so far out of my normal viewing patterns, I actually checked to make sure I hadn't somehow logged into someone else's account (I hadn't).
I was admittedly leery of watching them at first, because I know about as much about kabuki theater as I do about Shakespearean theater, namely that it exists and that in order to understand the actions and dialogue, it generally requires a certain amount of cultural and/or historical knowledge that I simply don't possess. Nevertheless, once I took the plunge and watched them, it wasn't that bad. I watched the documentary first, and I'm glad I did, because parts of the performance would have looked really odd to me without that extra knowledge. Granted, there was still a lot that I didn't get, but it wasn't terribly confusing.
But I digress. The point I'm trying to get across, in this very long-winded and rambling way, is that while the algorithms streaming services use to recommend things can miss the mark as often as it hits it, they can also dig up gems we might never see otherwise. So take a small break from what you normally watch and try something different.
So to wrap back around to my questions at the start, what is the strangest recommendation you've gotten from a streaming service? Did you watch it, and if so, what did you think?