Comfortable and Furious

Netflix and Social Distancing?

Drastic times call for drastic measures. As a result around 20 percent of the global population is in a government-imposed coronavirus lockdown. It’s safe to say that now is not the time to slide into your matches’ DMs and see who’s up for Netflix and chill.

But being stuck in a social distancing Groundhog Day doesn’t mean you can’t reap a few rewards, or hang out with mates via the magic of the interwebs. So how about a bit of Netflix and social distancing?

Here’s my guide to getting the most out of the streaming service, solo and with friends, while you’re safe and cozy in the comfort of your cell home.

Netflix Party

Watching TV alone day after day can get a little grim, even for the most ardent movie connoisseur. But you can maintain physical distance while still watching stuff simultaneously with your friends.

The Netflix Party Chrome add-on allows you to watch Netflix with a group and even incorporates a group chat function. Once the extension is installed, click the red NP icon by the address bar to create a shareable link. Gather your co-watchers by sharing this link then choose your show.

Category Codes

If your Netflix’s home screen is getting you down, you can avoid scrolling through its vapid recommended suggestions and trash reality TV shows with category codes. More than 70,000 unique codes pull movies and TV shows from categories as diverse as Emotional Fight-the-System Documentaries and Foreign Satanic Stories from the 1980s.

The Independent has a decent list of codes to get you started here, and there are also plenty of other list compilations online. To use a code, simply type into the address bar. The numerals are the codes that lead to genres and sub-genres (8195 is Campy B-Horror Movies).

Note that not all content is available in all regions, which leads me to my top Netflix hack…

Unblock Worldwide Content 

In essence, a VPN download is your ticket to seeing what you want as soon as it’s available on Netflix, no matter your location. So, if you can’t wait the extra days to see what meta-meta narratives and sly social commentary Adult Swim has jammed into the latest Rick and Morty episode, switch your VPN on and select a North American server. Then open up Netflix and you’re good to go with US-based content.

Geo-blocking is the bane of a movie aficionado’s existence. Whether it’s the latest Scandi gothic noir or Australasian art-house flick you’ve been waiting to see, the wait is officially over. You can skirt pesky geo-blocking by using a VPN to change your digital location.

There are a few cracking movies and shows out on Netflix right now, here’s three at the top of my re-watch list:

First Reformed (2018)

As ideologically challenged protestant minister Toller, Ethan Hawke delivers his finest performance to date in Paul Schrader’s First Reformed. Part mid-life bildungsroman and part consideration of modern chaos, the film follows Toller dwindling faith and growing rage after meeting a pregnant Mary (Amanda Seyfried) and her husband Michael, an environmental activist with bold ideas.

Currently streaming on Netflix Sweden.

Top of the Lake Season One (2013)

New Zealand director and screenwriter Jane Campion (of Piano fame) returns to her home shores in the gritty drama Top of the Lake. A 12-year-old girl tried to kill herself in frigid waters and detective Griffin, played by Elizabeth Moss, finds herself mired in small-town secrets. While season two, Top of the Lake: China Girl, falls by the wayside when it moves location from rural New Zealand to Sydney, Australia, season one is a critically acclaimed triumph.

Connect to UK Netflix to stream both seasons.

Baraka Meets Baraka (2016)

In what has been touted as Saudi Arabia’s very first rom-com, Baraka a laid-back civil servant who spends his days dishing out fines for minor offenses, meets female lead Bibi, a forward-thinking Instagram up-and-comer with millions of online fans. What follows is an intriguing look at modern love in the Kingdom while the filmmakers gently poke fun at the regime — the opening sequence features this message: “The pixelization you see in this film is totally normal. It is not a commentary on censorship. We repeat, it is not a commentary on censorship.”

Connect your VPN to Israel or Egypt to watch this film on Netflix.