The Case of the Netflix Queue

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul accuses Chef of tampering with the Netflix queue, but discovers darker forces at work.

Seeds of distrust have been newly planted in my relationship with Chef—thanks to Netflix.  I’d read stories about couples fighting over control of the movie queue, but for the most part, Chef and I tolerate each others taste in films.  He knows that he should see vampire flicks in the theater without me, and I go see Sandra Bullock films with Susan.  For the most part, I control the at-home viewing choices, mostly because Chef spends limited time on the computer.  So when Funny People starring Adam Sandler arrived in our mailbox, I was highly suspicious.

“That’s weird.  I didn’t really peg this as your type of movie,” I said to Chef.

“What do you mean?” he replied, confused.

“Well, you don’t really love Adam Sandler.”

“I don’t.  I didn’t pick that movie.  I don’t even know what it’s about.”

One of the things I’ve always loved about Chef is his ability to ignore major pop-culture marketing campaigns.  Somehow, he’d missed all the subway posters and previews of the movie.

“Hey, it’s okay if you chose it.  It has Eric Bana in it.  I know you love him.  We’ll watch it.  No judgments.”

Chef just shrugged, and we moved on—through an excruciating three hours of a film neither of us enjoyed.  I assumed Chef was too embarrassed about the bad choice to bring up the queue issue again.  So I let it go.  Until Year One arrived.

“Now come on.  I know you have a crush on Michael Cera, but I can barely tolerate Jack Black on a good day,” I complained.

“Honestly, I didn’t pick that movie.  And this time, I totally know what it’s about.  I would never have chosen it,” Chef protested.

“Were you playing around with that new iPhone app I added for Netflix?”I accused.

“No, I haven’t even looked at it!”

And so Year One languished about the living room for a month, a constant reminder to me that Chef wouldn’t own up to his queue tinkering.  The movie settled into a kind of Netflix-inertia—neither one of us wanting to watch it, but neither of us willing to take it to the mailbox.

Yesterday, before returning Easy Virtue, a film I definitely chose starring Jessica Biel, Kristin Scott Thomas and one of my cinematic boyfriends Colin Firth, I thought it best to check the queue to see what was next on tap.

“Chef!  Get over here.  Into the Wild?  Did you forget you’d seen that already?  The HoneymoonersHercules Season 2?  You’ve got to be kidding.”

“I’m telling you, it’s not me!  You don’t trust me?”

I had to admit, even for Chef, those choices seemed wildly out of line.  So I phoned customer service at Netflix.

“Are you adding movies to our queue without my consent?” I began.

“Um, no sir, we definitely don’t do that,” the agent said calmly.

“Really?  Because I can bet it’s some kind of pay-for-play program.  Under viewed movies pay you to get added to people’s lists without them even knowing.”

“Well, that’s an interesting revenue idea.  But it’s not something we do.  Currently,” he replied, a tad bit sarcastically.

“Alright, but something’s up.  And it’s causing problems in my relationship.”

He took a look at my queue and told me the dates that the movies in question had been added—all when Chef and I were out-of-the-country and would not have been on-line.

“I suggest you change your password.  Someone must be messing around with you.”

Wow, that’s some kind of hacker—not interested in fraudulent banking transaction, but forcing us to watch films outside our genre.  The Netflix agent agreed to send the next few chosen movies on the list immediately to make up for the strange occurrence.  Hooray!  Oscar-buzzy The Hurt Locker would be arriving sooner than expected.

When I apologized to Chef, he shrugged it off.

“No big deal.  But don’t tell me the new password.  That way we won’t get into this again.”

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