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I tried Hulu’s new Watchlist, and it’s kind of terrible

Hulu's new Watchlist attempts to organize your online viewing queue, but leaves vast room for improvement.


Allen Weiner


Posted on Feb 18, 2015   Updated on May 29, 2021, 12:24 pm CDT

Hulu may have recognized the fact that its viewers need help organizing their streaming entertainment lives, but its new Watchlist feature offers little to improve the general jumble of consumer video clutter.

What the streaming service has done with Watchlist is create a mashup of three standard categories: “Stuff You Watch,” “Queue,” and “Favorites.” Hulu’s intention is to give priority to the programs you will most likely want to watch upon signing in. The company claims that by monitoring viewing habits (which it does, like it or not), it can understand which shows I most enjoy.

Say what?

The most obvious point here is that I know what I am watching—tell me what gems I am missing that match my interests (and viewing history). Amazon, Netflix, and (to some degree) YouTube do this. They may often be off in their picks, but I appreciate the effort, and am delighted when they occasionally serve up something delightful that I had overlooked. Amazon Prime’s suggestion of Romantics Anonymous—a wonderfully quirky foreign film—proved that my Prime subscription was worth the price of admission.

After Watchlisting my personal Hulu Plus queue (it is gradually rolling it out, but you can click to instantly add it to your account), the results were… bewildering.

At the top (and presumably the show Hulu thinks I want to watch most) was Family Guy. I have never watched a full episode of the show, but recently went online to see part of the episode that caused an uproar over its treatment of statutory rape.

Next up is Blue Bloods. Yes, I started watching that oldie series a few months ago to pass the time during exercise. Why Hulu shows me the next four episodes when I have watched each one in specific order (call me OCD if you want) escapes logic.

Batting third is Jane the Virgin, easily the best new TV show of the ‘14-’15 season. I cannot blame Hulu for not knowing I watched the last two episodes in real time. But it can’t be too difficult to source that data in there—and if it is, Watchlist is fundamentally flawed.

Shark Tank and About A  Boy are below the fold. I have not watched About A Boy live or streaming in a year. Is Hulu trying to tell me the show is better than when I gave up on it?

The rest of my Watchlist is sheer gibberish with Quick Draw—a Hulu Original I viewed two years ago—and something called Manhattan Love Story, a sitcom I never heard of. If it is a recommendation, I suggest Hulu tweak its algorithm as it relates to my viewing habits.

Moving away from sheet sarcasm to an optimal solution, the only solution that benefits streaming viewers would be for a third party to aggregate all of my streaming services, analyze what I collectively watch, and let me know what I am missing. While you’re at it, push it to my cable DVR, tablet, and smartphone.

H/T Android Police | Illustration by Max Fleishman

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*First Published: Feb 18, 2015, 7:45 pm CST