Streaming TV - Too Many Choices, How Do I Choose?
May 10, 2017 7:23 PM   Subscribe

Streaming TV has completely sucked all the joy out of watching shows and movies. My biggest complaint is the way stuff is organized, endless lists of offerings that mean nothing to me, lots of crap based on something else I watched and did enjoy (I already watched that, so no, I do not want to watch the same type of thing twice.) I just can't anymore. Surely there is something good to watch? Looking for hacks and websites that make finding content easier. Please hope me. More after the jump...

I have Chromecast and Fire TV with Prime - Amazon, Netflix primarily. I won't never pay for a HULU subscription, but I am open to paying for other streaming services. I have a Kanopy account. I would dearly prefer to avoid commercials.

I like old movies, but not old tv shows. I like foreign films, scifi, drama, noir, action, mystery, pbs-type stuff. I like comedy, both stand-up and movies. Underground anything is great!

If you know of hacks for searching or reorganizing Amazon Video or Netflix interface, websites that curate lists, websites that make searching easier - please please pass them on!! About once a week I sit on the couch and click through crap for an hour, only to eventually give up and go to bed. I know there is a better way. Thanks!!
posted by jbenben to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
posted by AFABulous at 7:29 PM on May 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Also the iOs app "Upflix" has a randomizer setting. If you give it a few parameters, it'll just pick something for you.
posted by AFABulous at 7:30 PM on May 10, 2017

Just to the right, FanFare, has quite good suggestions.
posted by sammyo at 7:39 PM on May 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

* The American Film Institute has several lists.
* The U.S. National Film Registry has more than 600 movies.
* The winners and competitors at the Cannes, Berlin and Venice film festivals.
* Other lists of films considered the best.
posted by maurreen at 8:09 PM on May 10, 2017

If you love old and good movies and are open to paying, you might want to try FilmStruck. You can get a 14-day trial to see if you like it.
posted by old_growler at 8:18 PM on May 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

To my surprise, I have come to really appreciate the New York Times "Watching" column/newsletter. A lot of what they highlight isn't to my taste, but a fair bit is, and I've found some real gems in their suggestions.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:45 PM on May 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

I recommend looking at the list of programs on Walter Presents and also the Guardian's Watch This column to see what strikes your fancy. Then use the Just Watch website to see what service (if any) the shows that interest you are available on in America.
posted by hazyjane at 9:27 PM on May 10, 2017

I have no trouble thinking of things I want to watch when I'm nowhere near the entertainment system, but I swear my TV emits a mind-blanking signal so I end up doing what you described, wasting all my watching time just clicking around.

I've been trying to jot down things I think of in a text file on my phone so I can refer to it later. It's not really working yet, I keep thinking I'll remember without writing it down (and then I forget) but it's helped a little and I'm getting better at it.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:54 PM on May 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seconding the NYT Watching newsletter.
posted by ellieBOA at 2:59 AM on May 11, 2017

This is off topic and obvious but-- word of mouth. Yes, like, asking, "what are you watching? I am looking for something mindless on Netflix after finishing Chuck." I have been asked this twice by different friends last month and am happy to rep both my guilty pleasures and hidden gems.
posted by athirstforsalt at 4:27 AM on May 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

You might look into the streaming services Acorn and MhzChoice. They feature foreign films and tv and have some terrific programming that fits your criteria. I find I'm watching little else since I got them.
posted by Skipjack at 6:21 AM on May 11, 2017

To my surprise, I have come to really appreciate the New York Times "Watching" column/newsletter. A lot of what they highlight isn't to my taste, but a fair bit is, and I've found some real gems in their suggestions.

I had meant to link the Watching URL in that answer.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:32 AM on May 11, 2017

FanFare already got recommended, but I'm heartily seconding it. I don't watch a lot of TV, but I take FanFare recommendations seriously because I feel like I kind of know you guys here. I especially keep my eyes open for MeFites whose opinions I respect from the blue or the green (gonna throw Etrigan's name out here, since I just found a podcast through their recommendation). I figure if they give good advice on AskMe, or they post smart stuff on the blue, they've probably got good taste in TV as well.

Note that this does not actually apply to myself. Even if you do value my opinions here, I have terrible taste in TV.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:44 AM on May 11, 2017

I like Just Watch for all kinds of filtering and sorting of streaming TV and movies.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:50 AM on May 11, 2017

Upflix does this for me. I have some narrowband interests where I want to watch everything in one genre but nothing in the next one (like I really enjoy female stand up comics and stand up comedy by people of color but do not want to see Doug Stanhope or Bill Burr ever, this is too sophisticated for Netflix). The biggest deal is just getting everything in my queue and then starting from the queue (another thing Netflix makes nearly impossible).

You might want to use the idea of Netflix users to curate a few users for types of movies so you might get slightly better suggestions. Like one old-time user for old B&W stuff and a comedy user for the comedy stuff. Might be more trouble than it's worth but might work for you.

I also have some stuff I queue which are just what I think of as "palate cleansers" like nature documentaries or whatever which I can just put on when I want something lovely and vaguely informative on the TV but don't want to invest on a show or not.

And, like others, I queue stuff like mad when I see a thread on AskMe that contains stuff I mostly like.
posted by jessamyn at 7:28 AM on May 11, 2017

The newsletter Inside Streaming logs what are the latest offerings as well as providing reviews of what's out there.
posted by rednikki at 2:08 PM on May 11, 2017

I do something entirely different from all of the above options. I actually use 20 questions and select movies based on what characteristics I want in my viewing experience that night (see: This can also be helpful if you are trying to decide on something to watch with your significant other. Just ask the questions in the form of, "do you want to watch a movie with a strong female lead?" rather than the way 20 questions phrases it "are you thinking of a movie with a strong female lead?" One of the best things about this is that 20 questions provides you with more than 1 option if you don't like the first one.
posted by candasartan at 6:28 AM on May 13, 2017

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