Meta: It’s movie night! Find out how to use Netflix codes to unlock special shows and movies so you’re the one setting the trend!
You finish up another show, and you don’t know what to watch next. You check all the titles in your suggested genres, but you’ve seen it all, or nothing grabs you. What do you do?
You may not know this, but Netflix specializes in “microgenres.” These are pinpoint specific tags that Netflix employees have expertly attached to pretty much every film or show ever made. Based on these microtags, Netflix can suggest content to you--and it’ll match you with what you want.
What you see on your main Netflix page is produced by this mass microtagging project that dozens of employees at Netflix have undertaken. But maybe you want to go beyond the data-tailored suggestions and into the archives of esoteric genres.
So are you ready to dive into the thousands of secret Netflix micro-genres? Here’s how to use Netflix codes to unlock lots of great content.
Netflix isn’t all that focused on making its 100,000 highly specific microgenres readily accessible. They make suggestions so you don’t have to mine their data! But if you’re set on it, get out your device and sign in.
Disclaimer: if you are using a smartphone, you may have difficulty searching for microgenres using codes. Instead, try your computer or TV, or any other device where you can type in a URL. There are two different ways to access these codes.
Type in the Code into a Browser
Netflix has created a database of tens of thousands of microgenres. It’s organized by a simple, somewhat random, numerical system. Every microgenre is assigned a number on the website, and anyone can look it up using a simple URL. For example, the genre “Inspiring Sports Movies based on real life” is currently assigned the number 2001.
To go right to the raw database, all you have to do is type in the following URL: https://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/#. At the end of the URL, type any number between one and five digits (instead of the hashtag or number symbol).
Keep in mind that many numbers don’t have any genres associated with them. You may still enjoy poking around and finding random microgenres. For example, I typed in the URL with the number 102 and came up with the following: Cerebral French-Language Dramas from the 1960s. This is one of Netflix’s microgenres, but there are currently no titles available for viewing.
The more you type in different numbers, the more you’ll see just how specific the genres get. Code 144 gets you “Dramas Starring Jackie Shroff” (and . . . who is that?), while the code 3002 brings up “Critically-acclaimed LGBTQ Crime movies.”
Since Netflix is always adding and removing content, individual microgenres may have a bunch of titles or none. That’s part of the fun! This method of typing in numbers can get pretty exhausting after enough codes that don’t show any genres. So what’s a better way to access some crazy movies you never knew you wanted to see?
Check Out a Code List
Lots of people have tried to assemble a running list of the most relevant and exciting codes. In 2014, The Atlantic writer Alexis Madrigal figured out a way to automatically identify all of the microgenres using a computer program. He discovered they were in no particular order but that each was assigned a number.
Since Netflix doesn’t publish its list, individuals and websites have done the work of listing some of the more notable lists of codes. All you have to do is decide which kind of genre you’re interested in, look it up, and then type that into your Netflix search box. It will come right up!
Why Can’t I Just Use the Search Engine?
All this code stuff seems cool, but come on--is it really helpful? Can’t we just type in what we’re looking for and get what we want? Why bother with all the numbers and lists?
Netflix certainly wants users to be able to find what they’re looking for. The search function is perfectly suitable if you know exactly what you’re looking for. Just type in a show--it comes up or not, and you know if you then have to check Amazon or Hulu.
But you can’t get access to all the microgenres this way, because you don’t know about them. Fun fact: the actor whose name is in the most genres is not Bruce Willis (he’s second), but a guy named Raymond Burr. Burr played the lead role in the detective series Perry Mason, and lots of people watch it on Netflix.
But if you type “Raymond Burr” into the search box, Perry Mason doesn’t come up. Here’s just one more reason to use the codes--it’ll give you very specific, obscure genres so you can focus your interests and show-off your latest find.
A quick search will give you quite a few lists of codes. At Mashable, they’ve compiled a substantial alphabetized supply of codes for pretty typical categories. At Finder, you can actually peruse a list of 23,000 different codes. But for the particularly adventurous, here’s my selection of oddity codes to get you inspired.
Campy Movies - Code: 1252
Nothing starts a cult following quite like a great campy movie. But how many movie services actually advertise them as such? Just one of the perks of Netflix’s sophisticated genre system is this gem of a genre: Campy Movies.
Movies that are considered “campy” have that touch of extra that makes some audience members cringe while others laugh. Everything in a campy movie is a little too try-hard. One of the most famous examples is The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a satire that no one liked when it first came out but has since become the longest running theatrical release in film history.
Some campy movies on Netflix now: “Hairspray,” “Scary Movie 2,” “Battlefield Earth,” and “Eight Legged Freaks.”
Creature Features - Code: 6895
“Creature Features” is a real microgenre curated by Netflix! In a rare touch of rhyme, the streaming service collects together all their creepy films with mysterious monsters. So if you feel like tonight’s a great night to get the creepy-crawlies on the couch, peruse this genre code 6895’s offerings.
Some Creature features today: “The Silence,” “Tremors,” and “Hisss.”
Film Noir - Code: 7687
Although it sounds like a throwback, the noir genre has endured into the 21st century. Most of the offerings on Netflix are not what you would typically think of as “film noir,” aside from the 1946 “The Stranger.” Recent hits like “No Country for Old Men” and even “Batman Begins” are included in this microgenre. Expand your horizons!
A few other options for noir: “All the President’s Men,” “Get Carter,” and “A Perfect Stranger.”
Jazz and Easy Listening - Code: 10271
You probably don’t ever think of beginning your search for a movie to watch by typing in music genres. But Netflix has several music categories, and one worth taking a look at is code 10271: Jazz and Easy Listening.
There are only a few movies under this genre, but you could always use an education on jazz (right?). Several films retell the lives of Jazz greats, and there’s even a Christmas special featuring Mariah Carey.
Middle Eastern Movies - Code: 5875
You might be surprised by the amount of middle eastern movies there are on Netflix. If you’re looking to get a new perspective, try out some of the films featured here. This genre is so large that there are several subgenres to choose from.
One particularly acclaimed film is the 2011 “A Separation,” which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012.
Period Pieces - Code: 12123
Go back in time with this genre! There is a ton of new content in this genre. Netflix loves to capitalize on rampant nostalgia these days, and if you need a good fix of the ol’ days, check out this genre.
Several well-known shows have this tag, like “The Tudors,” “The Crown,” and “The Last Kingdom.” There’s even a biopic telling the life story of the Pope!
Social Issue Dramas - Code: 3947
Sometimes the best way to learn about social issues is by getting into a movie about it. For that, there’s a whole genre with films about poverty, war, and feminism. Let a film change your life: check out this hidden gem of a genre on Netflix!
Take Advantage of Netflix Codes
Netflix does a great job providing suggestions to its users on what to watch. But for many avid viewers, the algorithm isn’t perfect. They want more! They want to defy the predictions. Not only that, but they want to see the titles that hardly ever show up.
Since Netflix has this fabulous system of categorizing films and shows, why not use it? Now you’ve learned how to use Netflix codes to unlock some of its little-known content. You should be proud. Get binging!