The Button Less Pushed

Netflix’s New Series Puts Your Kids in Control of the Story

Remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books you used to read as a kid? The ones where you, the reader, would be allowed to make decisions for characters and those decisions would lead you down different paths that could result in different outcomes? Netflix is bringing that fun, DIY format to TV for the first time with Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale. And it’s poised to change entertainment for everyone.

This new, innovative series is a spin-off of the Netflix original series The Adventures of Puss in Boots, which itself is a spin-off from the Shrek movies. In the 23-minute adventure, Puss finds a mysterious book about himself, and is whisked into the story. Your kid is then granted the power to control this swashbuckling feline’s journey, making choices along the way. They can decide, say, whether Puss will fight a god or giant tree (natural decision) and other fork-in-the-road moments by simply using the remote/Xbox controller/whatever you use to make Netflix do your bidding. Viewers will have 15-20 seconds to make the choice, otherwise, the show automatically makes a selection.

The series is a natural move for children’s media. As Carla Engelbrecht Fisher, Netflix’s Director of Product Innovation explained to Fatherly, kids are hardwired to assume everything is interactive and often tap and swipe screens that aren’t touch-sensitive. What’s more, Fisher said that such decision making allows kids to be active viewers instead of passive piles of mush on the couch.

Puss in Book is the first choose-your-own-adventure on Netflix, but it won’t be alone for long. Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile, which will debut July 14 and is based off the Netflix stop-motion series of the same name, also features this interactive premise. And if these two prove successful, Netflix will likely expand this type of story-telling into other shows and movies.

It’s probably not too far a stretch to think that the ‘flix will expand the series into shows that meld movies and video games in the style of those awesome-at-the-time video tape mystery series. This also means the very real possibility of this format coming to your favorite Netflix shows. Could Season 4 of Bojack Horseman involve you deciding whether Bojack heads to rehab to turn his life around or has an all-night bender involving hard alcohol, hookers, and lots of drugs? And will you finally get to be a superhero by making choices for Luke Cage or Jessica Jones? Who knows? The paths, right now, are endless.

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