Qwikster (2011-2011)

Qwikster (2011-2011) (photo)

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In a surprising reversal, Netflix says it is forgoing the split it announced less than a month ago, in which its DVD-by-mail business would have been spun off to a new venture and website called Qwikster. In a blog post this morning, Netflix and Qwikster CEO Reed Hastings says that DVDs will now be staying at Netflix:

“It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs. This means no change: one website, one account, one password.. in other words, no Qwikster. While the July price change was necessary, we are now done with price changes.”

Obviously the question on everyone’s mind now is: why? Why go through the trouble of launching this terrible sounding new website and pissing off your customers only to change your mind before the terrible sounding new website even gets off the ground? Maybe too many customers were becoming ex-customers in the wake of the Qwikster announcement and they decided to bite the bullet now before things got any worse.

Netflix had built up a public image in recent years as a forward-thinking company. Their initial idea was brilliant, their service was superb, and their ability to see the viability of streaming film and television content early made them a major player in the entertainment industry. With all that said: what the hell is going on over at Netflix? Hastings has become convinced that DVD-by-mail is a dead-end, and it seems like the mad scramble to prepare for that reality has led him to make all kinds of poorly considered moves; first an extreme price hike (which Hastings still insists was necessary) and now this crazy boondoggle with Qwikster. Everything about the website was poorly conceived, from the name, to the weirdly casual video announcement, to the fact that they hadn’t secured the Qwikster handle on Twitter (leading customers who went looking for it to find a stoner with a potsmoking Elmo as its Twitter icon), to the bizarre double talk of Hastings’ blog post. Did he (and the rest of the company) really think that an “advantage of separate websites is simplicity for our members?” How did they not realize that the opposite was actually the truth?

What should Netflix do now? Glad you asked, no one at all! If I were sitting in charge of Netflix today, I would try to reverse this wave of bad publicity by finally installing some of the features that users have begged for for years but that the company, either in its laziness or arrogance, has never bothered to add. Each week, there should be an easy-to-find, easy-to-use list of the new titles available for DVD rental and streaming. We could also use a release calendar for upcoming titles arranged by date of availability. And master lists of every streaming title in alphabetical order would be great as well. As Hastings’ announcement this morning boasts, Netflix is adding new streaming content all the time. But how can you tell? There’s no easy way to find everything that’s been added without going to some third party website like the invaluable Instant Watcher. Just yesterday I discovered “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop,” a documentary I’ve been really looking forward to, was available on Netflix Watch Instantly. When did that happen? I don’t know; it just showed up. Netflix is an invaluable tool for movie and TV lovers, but it’s also become a bit user unfriendly. Now would be a great time to change that.

No word how the death of Qwikster will affect the one significant change to Netflix’s service that was announced with it: the addition of video game rentals. Hastings’ blog post made no mention of it. In the meantime, let’s all pour out a New Coke for Qwikster. We hardly knew ye. And ye will not be missed.

Will Qwikster’s demise affect the way you use your Netflix plan? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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