“Remember mixtapes?” the new video from Netflix asks. For the benefit of viewers under 30, it explains. “Ok, so they were like playlists, but on actual, physical tapes. (Which are like CDs but older).” Calling playlist writing “a fundamental life skill,” Netflix then introduces “Flixtape” a new function that enables customers to create and share their own Netflix playlists.

Essentially, having played a not insignificant part in the destruction of the physical media market, Netflix is now trying to mimic the pleasures of physical media online.

You can try the function out at the link above; on first use, I found the interface a little frustrating. Since I know Netflix has a ton of 30 for 30 documentaries I thought I would make a 30 for 30 playlist; when I entered that name (all flixtapes must be named) it then generated some suggestions based on an algorithm that, frankly, suggested Netflix’s computer might be drunk. Here is what it suggested for my 30 for 30 playlist.

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If you’re in the mood for modern sports documentaries, you will love this John Ford movie about Honest Abe! Or this Marvel TV show we made! Or a different TV show based on fairy tales! Fairy tales are like sports!

Once I removed Netflix’s choices and began adding my own, the experience didn’t get much better. Typing “30 for 30” into the search bar yielded four choices, all actual documentaries from the ESPN series, but no more than that. I couldn’t hit enter and browse a list of all the 30 for 30s. The only way to even access any of the dozens of other 30 for 30s available was to type “30 for 30: A” and then see what came up, and then change the “A” with another letter.

It also seems that the playlists max out at 6 entries, and it doesn’t seem like you can add specific individual episodes of TV shows; if you want to do Gilmore Girls, you’re literally making a playlist with hundreds of hours of content. which is not very mixtape-like. (If you want to see my 30 for 30 flixtape anyway, it is here.)

So Flixtape is very much a work in progress, a veritable Qwikster if you will. Surely it will improve. And I can see some potential in the idea. But if making mixtapes is truly a fundamental life skill, it is one Flixtape itself has yet to master.

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