If you use Netflix regularly, you aren’t likely to see lots of new recommendations, thanks to the algorithm that decides what you’ll like and what you won’t. Fortunately, for everyone who longs for the old days of TV, when flipping the switch called up an unceasing list of random possibilities, there’s Netflix Roulette.
A handy online tool available through a website called Reelgood, Netflix Roulette can help you escape the “Netflix recommended” doldrums and get back to streaming. Here’s how it works:
Note: Click images to enlarge.
Before we get into Netflix Roulette, those interested in that tool may also want to know about its parent company,Reelgood(the impatient among us can simply skip to the next section). Reelgood launched in 2015 as a sort of movie-focused social media app, but eventually pivoted to the model you see today, which is essentially a massive search repository that allows users to find shows and movies filtered by whichever streaming services they use.
Some streaming devices — like Roku — offer cross-platform search, which is awesome, but Reelgood takes it to another level, letting you add filters based upon genre, IMDB score, Rotten Tomatoes rating, and even release date.
You don’t need to create an account to use the Netflix Roulette feature, but it’s not a bad idea to do so in case you ever want to use the Reelgood search tool — just link through Facebook or sign up the old-fashioned way, with a name, email, and password. Once you’ve got an account, click the little purple icon in the upper right corner to select your streaming platforms.
By default, you get access to the “Free Sources Bundle,” which includes content from services like Fox, CBS, and Crackle (beware — these might have autoplay ads, but at least they’re free). Click every service you subscribe to (or every platform you want included in search), then click Save. Next time you search, it’ll add in movies or shows from each of your selected platforms. When you choose a movie or show, Reelgood will offer you direct watch links for each selected platform to take you straight to your movie or show.
Netflix Roulette was born in 2014 when 18-year-old Andrew Sampson (u/codeusasoft on Reddit) got tired of browsing Netflix in search of something new. So, he built a basic web app allowing users to choose a genre and a format (either movies or TV shows) before hitting the “Spin” button, which randomly selects something to watch that fits the search criteria.
Despite its extremely basic capabilities, Netflix Roulette became something of a phenomenonand remains a regular tool for many Netflixers to this day. In 2017, Reelgood reached out to Sampson regarding the Roulette API in hopes of working a similar tool into the website, then ended up acquiring the rights altogether when Sampson indicated he was uninterested in continuing to maintain the service.
While Reelgood’s acquisition of the service meant Roulette would no longer have a cool, Netflixian aesthetic, it also meant Roulette became considerably more powerful, thanks to the massive Reelgood search engine. Now, you can search across all your selected platforms (if you’ve signed up and made selections) using the Reelgood Roulette tool, and you can filter by IMDB score as well (using integers between 1 and 10 as cutoff points).
That’s not all: You can also use the Roulette tool to comb through individual streaming services. Want to just search Amazon Prime Video? Click “Edit” in the upper right corner, deselect every platform except Amazon, and hit Save. Once you’ve found something that looks worthwhile, just click Watch and it’ll automatically send you to the web player for your chosen platform. If you don’t want to watch on your computer, of course, you’ll need to search for the film or program on your chosen device.
Something to keep in mind: Netflix hasa lot of content from India that probably never shows up in your recommendations (unless you’ve dabbled in Bollywood before). You’re fairly likely to come across some of these titles while using Roulette, which may just be a pleasant surprise in its own right.