Perhaps in an ideal world, you could simply embed Netflix into your brain and the company would know exactly what content you wanted to watch at any given moment. You could just sit back and relax your days away stress-free as shows and movies auto-play a constant stream of your favorites and new, soon-to-be favorites.
But we aren’t quite living in a “Black Mirror” episode just yet, so you have to figure out what you want to watch yourself. And, as Netflix is constantly adding and subtracting content, this is often quite tricky.
“What should I watch right now on Netflix?” seems like a simple question. But as any subscriber knows, finding the right answer ― especially if you’re watching with someone else ― can be an odyssey-journey.
With Netflix’s relentless schedule of adding new content, it’s hard to keep up. There are only so many hours in the day.
Hopefully, these websites and apps will help.
This is part of Streamline, HuffPost’s weekly recommendation service for streaming shows and movies. Every Saturday, Streamline ranks the best shows to watch online, including a specific focus on Netflix.
The search option on the Netflix website is not all that customizable or comprehensive. The design lends itself to ease of use, but if you’re trying to do any remotely complicated search, you’re out of luck.
Flixable fixes this with a robust search engine. Besides breaking down search options between shows and movies, you can also make sure any search only surfaces options with a high IMDb rating, choose a specific genre, and narrow to a certain time period. Perhaps IMDb ratings aren’t the best way to trust whether something is “good” or right for you, but if you’re just looking for a crowd-pleaser, that’s certainly a decent place to start.
A weird quirk ― it’s not clear why Flixable lets you choose movies and shows from the early 1900s. Netflix doesn’t seem to have any options from around then. The company should definitely consider adding some early silent movies, though.
It’s pretty tricky to find out exactly what’s getting added to Netflix each week. Even Netflix’s official announcements that get shared with the media usually don’t have everything. Netflix adds surprise releases fairly frequently.
Just Watch makes figuring out what’s actually joining a service in any given week much easier. Similarly to Flixable, you can sort this list between movies and TV shows, along with a few other toggles for categories.
The usefulness also expands past Netflix, as Just Watch has comprehensive release schedules for other platforms such as Hulu, HBO, Starz and Showtime. Using this website to figure out what’s debuting a few weeks out is a little tricky, but it’s perfect if you just want to know what the newest shows and movies on Netflix are in any given week, many of which, it should be noted, aren’t always that good. You’ll likely discover there are way, way more low-budget romantic comedies and horror movies than you were aware being added to Netflix.
Already know exactly what you want to watch, but aren’t sure if it’s on Netflix or another streaming service? Decider is a great place to figure that out.
With a search on a specific title, Decider lists all the places you can stream, rent or digitally purchase that show or movie.
As in the example above, Netflix just added “The Godfather” in January, so it’s listed there. Unfortunately, the suggestions can be a bit confusing on whether the title is free or you have to rent. But at least this search gives a good idea of where to start.
4. Fan TV app
This is one of the most popular apps out there for aiding streaming.
Fan TV basically provides a lot of the same options found in Just Watch and Decider, but puts those into an intuitive and photo-heavy app. You can also customize what you want the app to suggest to you specifically, based on taste.
This also has listings for live TV if you put in your zip code. That makes Fan TV a good way to find out how to watch a sports game or something else you would still watch live in this cord-cutting era.
As with any low-budget app though, many users have complained about bugs and poor customer support. So maybe don’t bet everything on its reliability. Like if a magical troll stops you under a bridge and is like ― “tell me right now if “The Godfather” is on Netflix and I’ll give you a million dollars, but if you fail, we get to switch bodies” ― maybe don’t agree to that proposition based on having the Fan TV app on the phone in your pocket.
With the constant stream of sexual harassment and assault allegations of late, it’s become increasingly tricky to find something to watch that isn’t tainted by controversy. Obviously, that is far, far, far from the main problem involving the allegations, but still ― you may want to make sure you’re not going to see Kevin Spacey’s face in something you’re about to stream.
Rotten Apples makes this extremely easy, as you can just enter the name of a show or movie and find out if there’s a related controversy.
The service isn’t 100-percent accurate, and it bases results on allegations. But if you find inaccuracies, Rotten Apples also makes it easy to suggest a correction.
This is just a short “bonus” because it feels strange to recommend yourself, but HuffPost’s Streamline also helps you figure out what to watch on Netflix. Every Saturday, Streamline ranks the best new Netflix Originals, and gives updates on other Netflix news from the week. Check it out now, or on Saturday mornings for the most up-to-date recommendations.