I long thought my dream career move was to become a "panda nanny," a job that involves helping to care for baby pandas and, presumably, to kiss their booboos when they tumble too hard. But today I heard tell of a new dream career, one I must begin to prepare for immediately after finishing this blog shift. Indeed, it's to be a something called a "Netflix tagger," and it involves watching Netflix all day. Apparently it's not quite as simple as, say, watching 12 hours of Friends in one sitting, not that I've done that or anything, but it doesn't not involve watching 12 hours of Friends in one sitting, either. I am sold.
FastCompany dug into the alluring world of Netflix taggers this week, unspooling the story of one tagger, Sherrie Gulmahamad, who spends her workdays watching every streaming Netflix offering under the sun. As a tagger, Gulmahamad's job is to figure out what genres and categories Netflix's streaming options fit into, then to tag the shows, movies, documentaries, and standup specials with metadata about release dates, directors, cast, genre, etc. This, obviously, makes it easier to search for specific streaming options. It's also why Netflix keeps recommending super specific kinds of films and shows for you, and it appears to be one of the more fun parts of Gulmahamad's job.
"We work with a sprawling palette of tones and storylines to capture the spirit of our content, and when it comes to those sorts of tags, we can be more editorial," Gulmahamad told FastCompany. "We have every storyline under the sun for supernatural content and it always cracks me up — zombies, witches, dragons, cannibals, Bigfoot, mad scientists, mutants, magical creatures, angels, demons, and even ‘evil kids'."
Those of you who aren't self-proclaimed unapologetic Netflix addicts might not have noticed the streaming service's incredibly detailed and rather lengthy recommended offerings section on the site's main page. Though they'll show you the basics, like New Releases, Thrillers, Comedies, and Documentaries, they've also got a slew of more exhaustive descriptors. On my Netflix page, for instance, I'm being touted: "Binge-worthy TV shows about Friendship" (thanks to, I assume, my Friends binge); "TV War and Politics based on Real Life" (The Crown IS SO GOOD); and "British TV Shows Featuring a Strong Female Lead" (I've binged The Vicar of Dibley no fewer than five times).
Gulmahamad said to FastCompany that this kind of categorizing "speaks more to the soul of a title," and in order to be able to do this right, it helps to truly know and love film and film criticism. Gulmahamad herself studied screenwriting in college and got a masters in critical film studies, and believes Netflix hired her because of her ardor for movies and television. "I remember being very nervous before my interviews, but in the end, they were chatty and informal, and my supervisor at the time was focused on making sure I had a genuine passion for categorizing movies and TV," she said to FastCompany. "I believe I was quizzed just to make sure my film and TV knowledge had some breadth to it beyond a top 10 ‘listicle’ sensibility."
As someone who has watched every single BBC Masterpiece Theater offering that ever graced Netflix's library (hence, I assume, why they keep marketing "Critically-acclaimed Dramas based on Books" and "Biographical Period Pieces" to me), I too think I could be a sterling example of a Netflix tagger. Then again, Outlander, the greatest television show I have ever watched/ever watched this week isn't even ON Netflix, and I refuse to watch anything other than Outlander until I have effectively exhausted my Jamie Fraser Fan Club reserves, so perhaps Netflix and I will have to wait.