Wanted: Netflix ‘tagger’, must withstand TV torture

The company loves categorising everything, but its micro-genres can never be ‘objective’

Dear Netflix, I see you have a vacancy. I wanted to let you know I'm your perfect Senior Data Engineer/Architect of Global Payment Analytics. Only joking, it's the "we'll pay you to watch TV" job that caught my glazed eye: "UK/Ireland Tagger" based in "London, GBR", it says on the job spec, although the "role will offer flexible hours based from home".

As I have one of those “analytical minds” you’re seeking, I’ve spotted a discrepancy there. Still, I’m happy to learn that this position pays well enough for me to be able to afford London rents.

Via press release, you announced you’re looking for a “very special discerning viewer” to join your worldwide team of about 40 taggers. These are the humans who categorise your library and, with considerable help from “top-secret algorithms”, serve up personalised recommendations. The video explainer was cute, particularly the bit about people’s “Grans” having a penchant for “Violent Revenge Thrillers”. My granny was more of a snooker fan, but anything’s possible, and I’m sorry to bring up the whole live sport thing. I hope the World Cup hasn’t been too catastrophic for your considerable share of broadband traffic.

Your tagging system is "a little bit art, a little bit science", you say. You certainly don't have to be an algorithm nerd to wonder why my "Because you watched Call the Midwife" list suggests "Nurse Jackie". I see what happened there. Thanks also for the recommendation to watch Nine Months, that pregnancy movie best known for being the one Hugh Grant was promoting when he got caught on Sunset Boulevard that time. The 1990s were so great.


I admire your commitment to rate how much sex is in a film using a numerical ranking of 1-5, rather than the more common scale of "not enough" to "naked Ryan Gosling". You're probably being tongue-in-cheek when you describe your system as "super-accurate". Still, I must point out that your mission to describe every film and TV show using "objective" tags is more flawed than Don Draper.

Take your "Exciting" films category, for instance. The keywords for inclusion seem to be "bombs", "terrorism", "explosions" and such like. No disrespect to Fireman Sam: The Great Fire of PontyPandy, in which Norman and Derek "accidentally create a raging wildfire", but when I look at my "Exciting" list, I feel jaded.

I'll tell you what excites me: Chalet Girl. Will poor Alpine novice Felicity Jones triumph against the odds, win the snowboarding competition and get to slalom off-piste with rich Ed Westwick? It's the definition of predictable thrill. But I notice you haven't got Chalet Girl in your movie catalogue. If you did, I'd categorise it as "Romantic British Underdog Film with a Bill Nighy Cameo".

On my own UK/Ireland service, you tend to stick to categories with single adjectives such as “gritty”, “cerebral” and “dark”, and I’m presuming your new tagger (me) will pave the way for the more specific “micro-genres” I hear you offer other customers. My advice is to play to your strengths. It’s no use recommending I watch Academy Award-Winning Films – I’ve seen the ones I want to see. What you need is categories such as “Picked Up a Surprise Golden Globe Nomination for Musical or Comedy”, “Documentaries Shunned by your Local Multiplex” and – in recognition of your laptop/tablet audience – “Films Teenagers Can’t Watch with their Parents in the Room”.

My other proposed categories include "TV Dramas Marketed as Being the New Mad Men But Weren't", "Films in which Michael Fassbender is Brilliant at Being Evil" and "Oh My God, Why Does 1999 Look Like Another Epoch Already".

I definitely have the passion for TV you want – right now, I'm thinking of starting a "Get Martin Back in The Bridge" petition – and as luck would have it, I also have one of those film degrees you specify. But the most important thing you need to know about me is that yes, I have seen the original House of Cards. I'm old enough to have watched it when it first went out in 1990 on BBC One (one of those old-school linear broadcast channels you're pensioning off), but young enough to have been haunted for the rest of the decade by Ian Richardson saying "Mattie" in an admonishing tone.

I would like to conclude this job application with a question. When you say you want your tagger (me) to watch all your content, "from end-to-end", does that include Adam Sandler movies? Can't we just tag them "Popular on Facebook" and leave it at that? I would also like your permission to mute the opening credits to Orange is the New Black. Its theme tune is torturous – as I expect being a Netflix tagger would be after the first week. So it's just like every other job, then.