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The Politics of Netflix-ing

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In a city permeated with entertainment and industry types, Netflix (or its rival Blockbuster) are becoming as prevalent as TiVo. At a recent LAist staff meeting, we got off topic and discussed how Netflix was the best and worst thing since sliced bread. After the chat, we nailed down the ubiquitous service's biggest pros and cons.

The Good: Convenience and anonymity.
The genius of Netflix is that it allows complete anonymity. Thus, you have a service through which you can watch everything from "Amelie" to "Harry Potter" to some bad b-class soft-core flick. Every movie comes packaged in a generic wrapper, so the fact that you watch bad romantic comedies is safely concealed. You can still remain cool, calm and relatively collected all day... until 7pm when you go home and watch "The Truth About Cats and Dogs" with a stack of Puffs Plus tissues.

The Bad: Friends.
Once you link up to your friends' profiles everything changes. Sure, you "enrich" your Netflix experience by seeing other movies that might be of interest, but you also expose your entire movie queue, $.02 reviews and general taste in movies to all your friends. Think twice before doing this.

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The Ugly: Friends (again) and picking the right plan.
Once you know that your friends can see your list, you'll find that you're overcompensating. You might start adding one or two classic, respectable films to counteract the one (bad) film you really want to see. The result: you either broaden your exposure to good and bad films or the other DVDs will just collect dust.

Even if you do watch everything you order, the fact that Netflix is so efficient can also be a bit daunting. You always have 2 or 3 DVDs sitting next to your TV. Pick a plan wisely.

Tips to a successful Netflix relationship

  1. If you want to maximize the experience, either remain anonymous or setup a second login (no extra fee) and use it for anything that would tarnish your street cred.
  2. Only add friends that truly get your insane taste.
  3. Remember that Netflix can be configured to send you anywhere between 1 and 8 DVDs at a time. Ask yourself how many movies you really can digest in any given week, and adjust accordingly. We think the 2 DVD plan is perfect: you have choices, you're rarely left without at least one movie, and you avoid the daunting surplus situation we spoke about earlier.
  4. Own your good or bad taste without apologies. You're friends will still love you... well, maybe.