Nestflix Is The (Fake) Netflix Of (Fake) Netflix Movies
With the bingeable gold rush still in full swing, it seems that anyone with an idea, a website, and the rights to a handful of unaired Friends episodes can become the next streaming service to charge 12 bucks a month. But while everyone and the Weather Channel is trying to stake their claim on the last remaining nuggets of old cable reruns, one streaming catalog has dug up a new, rich vein of untapped TV shows and movies right from under their feet. The only snag is that it's all fake.
When web designer Lynn Fischer lost her job during the pandemic, she did what everyone did locked in their apartment with little to do: binge streaming content every waking moment. But not wanting to let all that time go to waste, she combined her IT skills with her encyclopedic streaming knowledge to mock up Nestflix, a Russian doll-like Netflix for movies and TV shows inside of movies and TV shows.
Nested stories, also known as embedded or meta-narratives, have been around since the dawn of smugness. Even in cinema, movies had movies-within-movies before they had sound or color. Mabel's Dramatic Career, a 1913 Keystone comedy, had director Mack Sennett cast Mabel Norman to play a young woman called Mabel. Who gets cast in a Keystone comedy. To play a young woman called Mabel. Directed by Mack Sennett. To the surprise of her co-star, Mack Sennett.
So with over a century's worth of fake media, all available on one of the current 600 streaming services, Nestflix's fake streaming library already has cataloged over 450 meta-movies and TV shows and counting. Most of these are little more than quick one-note gags (looking at you, Arnold Schwarzenegger's Hamlet), but some creators put in as much care or more (looking at you, Jay & Silent Bob's Good Will Hunting sequel) in their little ingested twin-features as they put into their real fiction. Like the entire fake oeuvre of Lucas Lee, the Vin Diesel-y villain played by Chris Evans in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, for which director Edgar Wright not only mocked up a fake movie set and fake movie scenes but even several fake movie posters.
Or the most famous nested movie of all time, Angels With Filthy Souls, a gangster noir spoof so pitch-perfect it tricked many a '90s kid into trying to check it out from Blockbuster after returning Home Alone.
Of course, most nested movies are supposed to look fake. Their purpose is not to gaslight audiences but to be obvious parodies of Hollywood's laziest tropes (even the lazy tropes that win Oscars like in the meta-award winning Satan's Alley or the meta-award nominated The Dog Walker). But between streaming services greenlighting every half-assed elevator pitch and Fischer's perfectly mimicked layout including fake plots, fake cast lists, fake bad thumbnails, and even fake versions of those weird algorithm categories like "Game Shows With A Bit Of Danger" or simply "Aliens!", the line between real and fake is becoming a mite blurry. To demonstrate, let's play a game of "Nestflix or Netflix Thumbnail?"
Which one of these streaming banners is for a biopic mocking the exact low-effort Oscar bait that the other one is: Is it Brain On Fire, the brave story of real-life journalist Susannah Cahalan (Chloe Grace Moretz) who can no longer tell fact from fiction after she gets diagnosed with her brain literally being on fire …
Or is it Teresa: The Making Of A Saint, which chronicles a young Mother Teresa (Megan Fox) as she enters the convent and must make the harrowing choice between giving love to one man or all of mankind?
Unfortunately for those of us who don't like the idea of our brains spontaneously overheating and Netflix using that nightmare as C-grade filler content, the meta one is Teresa. Another: Which of these is an actual Netflix reality dating show and which is a 10-year-old 30 Rock sketch: Milf Island, where twenty bikini-clad cougars compete in seduction challenges or get voted off the island by a panel of young manlets ...
Or Age Gap Love, where several May-December couples vie to convince audiences that their love is real despite the trophy wives constantly checking their Cartier watches waiting for the Grim Reaper to show up?
Again, the former Survivor spoof has the less embarrassing honor of being on Nestflix. Let's end with a hard one. Guess which depressingly low-effort Adam Sanders vehicle is a parody: The Do-Over, where Adam Sandler unconvincingly fights crime in his favorite tropical holiday destination …
Or Murder Mystery, where Adam Sandler unconvincingly solves crime in his favorite tropical holiday destination ...
Trick question: both of those were made by Netflix, and both of them are an absolute joke. However, if you want to get properly existentially philosophical, there's plenty of actual meta-mindscrewery to ponder hidden inside Nestflix's catalog. Like how, for example, both Netflix and Nestflix have an entry for The Truman Show, what with the film being set almost completely on a film set. Which begs the question: Which parts of that movie are supposed to be fictional, and which parts are supposed to be fictionally fictional?
Or Bojack Horseman, whose in-universe family sitcom Horsin' Around is, of course, listed as a fake Netflix show on Nestflix …
Except that Netflix actually made a full-length, proper episode of Horsin' Around, which is listed on the platform as its own TV show from 1987 ...
And to make matters even more boggling, both sites use the same straight-faced synopsis and cast listing; the only difference is that one's pretending the fake show is real and the other that the real show is fake.
And what about mockumentaries? Or mocku-mockumentaries? Or the tangled earbuds of meta-narratives that is Charlie Kaufman's entire filmography? It's a good thing you can't actually binge the nested stories on Nestflix, as plunging your mind into worlds within worlds within worlds might unravel it until you can no longer tell it apart from reality. Like in that blockbuster that used to be on Netflix. What was it called again? Right.
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Top Image: Netflix/Nestflix