There’s been one thing that I’ve wondered about as Netflix cannibalized DVD sales in the last decade: why doesn’t the streaming service include things like director commentaries for the films and TV shows that it streams? That seems to be changing — Netflix recently launched a podcast series of director’s commentaries called Watching With….
Thus far, Netflix has released two episodes: one for the film Someone Great (featuring director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson), and another for the recently-released Always Be My Maybe which features director Nahnatchka Khan and actor Randall Park. You can access the podcast via Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
The audio isn’t native on Netflix’s platform: you have to fire up the podcast on another device, then hit play on the film when prompted. It’s a bit unwieldy in practice, because you have to time the two just right — otherwise, they come out of sync. On the other hand, the commentary in podcast form allows you to listen to it anywhere, if you don’t particularly care about rewatching the film.
Netflix isn’t entirely without special features: some films feature a “Trailers and More” section that includes some extra features. Always Be My Maybe’s section has the film’s trailer, as well as a trailer-like introduction to the film’s characters. Some of Netflix’s bigger projects, like Stranger Things and Altered Carbon have some more robust featurette, but those exceptions aside, they’re a far cry from the era of behind-the-scenes features, director commentaries, and deleted scenes that came with DVDs (and before that, the occasional VHS tape).
Hopefully, Netflix will continue to release these episodes with their original films, to give cinephiles some additional insight into what went into making them.