Netflix is testing a feature that plays a random episode of a popular series that doesn't necessarily need to be watched in chronological order. In the age of streaming, viewers have arguably become spoiled by the sheer amount of choices available to occupy their time, especially if they subscribe to multiple streaming services. On Netflix alone, one can find thousands of movies and TV episodes to watch, even if the selection is smaller than it used to be. That said, more choices isn't always better.
At a certain point, the amount of available choices of things to watch can become overwhelming and annoying, as it can end up being harder to actually pick something when doing so requires browsing through such a large amount of content. Such problems are why many people have taken to using websites and apps that randomly throw out something to watch on various services, as it takes the burden of choice off the shoulders of the user.
Now, it seems Netflix might be wanting to solve the paradox of choice itself, as Android Police (via Variety) reports that the streaming giant is currently testing a new feature that allows subscribers to play a random episode of certain popular shows. Netflix has confirmed that the tests are taking place, although only on Netflix's Android mobile app for now. As with all Netflix feature tests, only certain users in certain regions are seeing the option to play a random episode appear, which is worded in-app as "play a popular episode."
Four shows currently confirmed as part of Netflix's play a random episode testing are The Office, New Girl, Our Planet, and Arrested Development. Based on comments made by a Netflix exec at an LA press event in March, this feature is likely being targeted toward sitcoms, anthologies, and other shows that don't really require they be watched in sequential order to enjoy. That said, many fans would argue Arrested Development absolutely needs to be watched in order, due to the amount of complex callbacks and running gags it features. Either way, one assumes shows like Friends and Black Mirror would be perfect additions to the play a random episode lineup.
Of course, just because Netflix is testing this feature, doesn't mean it will become permanent. Lots of ideas they've tested over the years have either never been implemented or didn't become standard for a long time afterward. It's easy to see many Netflix users welcoming this new option though, especially those who maybe used to enjoy just "channel surfing" on traditional TV. While this isn't quite the same as simply "watching what's on" at any given point, the ability to watch a random episode of The Office could certainly help the next time the amount of choices becomes overwhelming.