Robotic Suggestions: Netflix’s New MAX program

We all have our genres. Some of us like the tears to be jerked right out of our eyes, others like to live vicariously through the heroic characters in adventure flicks, and some like to quietly reflect upon a great sadness previously swept under societies’ rug in the form of documentaries. The actual populating of one’s movie list (also known as ‘instant queue’) is fairly easy as you simply browse and add to your list with every intention of watching it. Yet, one does not simply come home and watch a film. You have to put yourself in the mindset, perhaps warm up with a few terrible shows, perhaps visit Wikipedia and consult with Rotten Tomatoes. If you ever feel like turning your brain completely off whilst utilizing Netflix, there may be a robotic answer. Netflix’s new innovation, Max, has come to take all of the thought out of browsing.

How Max works, like Netflix, is really quite simple. Max greets and introduces himself to you if you have just met, and you’re off to movie watching. Even though Max is a robot, he’s been fitted with a warm and personable British personality. He will ask you questions of which he will base his suggestions for you. All of this is rather entertaining as Max will make a game show out of the process, making him universally appealing for kids and light-hearted adults.  

I’ve yet to have Max suggest something along the lines of an Auschwitz-documentary in his irreverent and cheeky way, so it remains to be seen whether Netflix’s robotic companion has a “too soon” and/or reverence filter. Which brings us to the only real downside of such an unconditionally spry and fun companion: timing. While Max is pretty darn good at suggesting films we would love, like “Dr. Strangelove,” the human television-watching condition is hardly a predictable one. For example, I love “Schindler’s List,” yet after a long day, I don’t usually want to unwind with somber meditations on human cruelty, compassion, and a spiral down an existential black hole. Sometimes I just want to stuff carbs in my face and watch “Half Baked.”

So while this downside is a bit nitpicky, it’s one of only a few as the television watching experience has come a long way. An upgraded Max 2.0 can likely be expected, taking into account things like: holidays, moods and perhaps the Pacific Northwestern seasonal depression cycle. You can meet Max via a PS3, Roku Player, and select Blu-ray devices.

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