Films and TV shows are often set up so that the viewer knows more than the protagonist, but what if the viewer knows just as much as the character. Among Netflix’s popular TV shows such as Ozark (2017 – 2022) and the unexpected (and sometimes unscripted) reality TV shows such as Nailed It! (2018 -), is a category of Interactive movies and TV shows where the viewer no longer passively watches their protagonist commit decisions that the viewer would have handled differently.
In these interactive TV shows, episodes, and movies, the viewer decides what should happen next. Each decision is weighed differently and may lead to even tougher decisions or “try again” options.
‘Trivia Quest’ (2022 – ) – 5.6
On April 1st, Netflix released the interactive trivia game, Trivia Quest (2022 – ), based on the popular 2013 mobile app Trivia Crack. In the original Trivia Crack game, players would race against each other, spinning a wheel of categories and answering a set of questions based on that category. Rather than playing against an online opponent like in Trivia Crack, in Trivia Quest, the viewer is tasked with answering trivia questions to help free Willy’s friends from Rocky’s cages.
Each correctly answered question earns a coin. The coins make up a “knowledge key” that unlocks one of the trivia figures. Each episode is focused on a theme and has both a standard mode and a hard mode to choose from. Out of 174 votes, Trivia Quest scored a 5.6 out of 10 on IMDb.
‘You vs. Wild’ (2019) – 6.6
Viewers might find that the best way to prepare for the outdoors is to watch survival movies such as 127 Hours (2010), a film, based on a true story that shows how quickly a situation can turn for the worse when climbing on unstable surfaces. To really test what decisions you’d make in the most brutal outdoor conditions is to experience it, and one way to do it is through the interactive show You vs. Wild (2019).
You Vs. Wild follows British adventurer, Bear Grylls, in the wild where he tasks his viewers with two choices. Each choice has its advantages and disadvantages, but if the viewer keeps choosing the wrong one, the viewer will have to restart from the beginning of the episode. The show has nine episodes, and out of 2,500 votes, You vs. Wild earned a 6.6 score out of 10 on IMDb.
‘Cat Burglar’ (2022) – 6.7
Created by Charlie Brooker, Cat Burglar (2022), has a similar animation style as the 1940s cartoon, Tom and Jerry or cartoons created by Tex Avery. Tom and Jerry revolved around a cat, Tom, who tried to catch the mouse, Jerry, but Jerry outsmarted Tom each time. From the beginning, viewers are helping Rowdy, the cat, steal a priceless painting from the museum. However, to steal the painting, he has to get past Peanut, the guard dog.
Viewers have to answer a set of timed trivia questions, and each time questions are different as well as the situations. If all questions are answered correctly, Rowdy successfully passes through the museum’s obstacles. If some questions are answered incorrectly, Rowdy suffers the consequences. Out of 419 votes on IMDb, the featurette, Cat Burglar, scored 6.7 out of 10.
‘Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal’ (2020) – 6.9
Carmen Sandiego is an expert thief who worked with a team of thieves to stop others from stealing artifacts. While in the Netflix TV series Carmen Sandiego (2019), the viewer could only watch and cheer on Carmen (voiced by Gina Rodriguez) as she barely escaped from her captures. However, in the interactive special, Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal (2020), the viewer gets to choose how Carmen (voiced by Rodriguez) will steal from the vault.
There aren’t a lot of background details revealed from the start as to how Carmen ended up in Shanghai and is planning to steal from the vault. Each decision is weighed by the difficulties assessed with it but ultimately gives the viewer eight different endings. According to IMDb, Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal scored 6.9 out of 10 based on 769 votes.
‘The Last Kids on Earth: Happy Apocalypse to You’ (2021) – 7.0
The Last Kids on Earth (2019) is an animated TV series that follow Jack Sullivan (voiced by Nick Wolfhard) and his friends as the last kids on Earth. Together they fight zombies and deadly monsters. Not all the monsters want to harm them, some want them to handle to take care of the large and horrifying monsters.
The Last Kids on Earth: Happy Apocalypse To You (2021) is an episode of the series where the viewer controls the characters’ next move. The episode revolves around June’s birthday. Out of 37 votes, The Last Kids On Earth: Happy Apocalypse To You scored a 7.0 out of 10 on IMDb.
‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs The Reverend’ (2020) – 7.0
The interactive movie, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs The Reverend (2020) is based on the TV sitcom, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015 – 2019). The sitcom followed Schmidt on her wild adventures after she was freed from a “doomsday” underground bunker. The cast from the series reprised their role in the interactive series, where this time Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) prepared for her wedding day.
Not only do the viewers decide how Kimmy should act, but the viewer gets to decide the other characters’ actions as well. The interactive series has about 12 different endings, but not all of them are happy endings. Out of 5,248 votes, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs the Reverend averaged a score of 7.0 out of 10 on IMDb.
‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’ (2018) – 7.1
The TV series Black Mirror (2011-2019) showed the harsh but not so extreme reality of how technology can influence humanity. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) is set in 1984, where Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), a video game programmer, works on creating a video game. Viewers decide from two choices. The choices range from the minuscule such as picking a cereal for breakfast that may not have a great impact on the character to the more hard-hitting choices such as deciding how to hide a dead body.
The interactive movie has five different endings, but some choices do lead to a dead end. Out of 124,200 votes, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch scored a 7.1 out of 10 on IMDb. Netflix also included what went into creating the complex interactive movie.
‘Headspace: Unwind Your Mind’ (2021) – 7.2
Viewers who want to take a break from the high-paced movies, TV shows, and interactive trivia games would enjoy watching Headspace: Unwind Your Mind (2021). Headspace: Unwind Your Mind is an interactive experience that doesn’t place pressure on its viewer to answer a list of questions. Instead, questions are answered based on how the viewer is feeling at that moment paired with bright colored animation and a calm voice.
Headspace: Unwind Your Mind (2021) picks exercises or stories for the viewer based on their answers. According to 133 votes on IMDb, Headspace: Unwind Your Mind earned a 7.2 score out of 10. Viewers looking to gain an understanding of how sleep or meditation works (without the interactive experience) can watch the TV series Headspace Guide to Sleep (2021) or Headspace: Guide to Meditation (2021).
‘Battle Kitty’ (2022- ) – 7.5
In Battle Kitty (2022- ), a yellow cat, named Kitty, is freed by a monster named Orc. Kitty is a small feisty and strong cat who goes on adventures with Orc. After facing the Orc King who questioned Kitty about where exactly is he going to go after leaving Orc Island, Kitty decides to go to Battle Island.
The viewer is able to click on the available quests shown on the island and each of these quests unlocks more of the main story. The Kitty will have to defeat the monsters to then be crowned champion of Battle Island. Out of 70 votes, Battle Kitty scored a 7.5 out of 10 on IMDb.
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