Nestflix's Fake Streaming Service of Movies Within Movies Is a Love Letter to a Trope

Creator Lynn Fisher on her exhaustive catalog of nested stories

Movies Features Nestflix
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Nestflix's Fake Streaming Service of Movies Within Movies Is a Love Letter to a Trope

Every now and then, you’ll think of a particular trope, convention or technique in cinema or television that you know the moment you see it, but that you can’t immediately name. Web designer Lynn Fisher seemed to have perfectly nailed down one such element when she launched Nestflix earlier this week. The site, laid out like any of the dozens of streaming apps for which you’re now paying more than cable, doesn’t list movies or shows—it lists movies or shows that are within movies or shows.

Yes, it has that one. And that one. And all of those, too.

Fisher said she loves making weird web projects in her spare time, and after “noodling on how many of these fake titles there are,” decided to put together a wiki-type site cataloguing all of them.

“I looked for a category/name for what these films within films are called and ‘nested stories’ felt like it fit and then the pun Nestflix fell out of the sky perfectly formed,” Fisher said. “So it made sense to make the site look like a real streaming platform. And then it all came together really well after that.”

A wiki by itself would have been a mighty enough endeavor, but one reason seems to have excited such giddiness on Twitter is the site’s glossy veneer and downright encyclopedic thoroughness. Each entry comes complete with exactly the kind of production still and title graphic you see on Netflix or Hulu, laid out in the kind of modular format that is supposed to work across your desktop, smart TV, phone, or wheezing old PS4’s media app. Any information on actors or directors revealed in the show or movie is reproduced, and sometimes it’s quite clear that some detective work went into it: Did you know, for instance, that the “I’d buy that for a dollar!” guy in RoboCop, and his show, have canonical names? Nestflix knows.

Fisher said she referenced wikis, blogs and years worth of list articles to eventually create two huge spreadsheets, track timestamps, plan episodes she needed to watch and what streaming services offered them, and then set to work taking screencaps, documenting details, and creating images and vector logos for each entry on Nestflix.

“It really was a lot of work now that I look at it all together! The whole process from start to finish took me two months,” she said, adding that “Wiki maintainers are the real heroes!”

There are numerous ways to appreciate Fisher’s work here. Each entry comes complete with MPAA ratings, runtimes, or numbers of seasons. Fictional actors and directors are listed as straight-facedly as if they existed in real life. You’ll be interested to know that the film-within-a-film Angels With Filthy Souls, which is half the reason I love Home Alone, is rated R, has a runtime of an hour and 47 minutes, and stars Ralph Foody and Michael Guido. It even has a sequel! The sequel is called Angels With Even Filthier Souls!!

It is easy to imagine this as a streaming service in an alternate dimension where these fictional shows actually exist. Sadly but understandably, no actual video clips are displayed on the site, but even this is something of an upside: It is impossible not to look at it, on some level, as a satire of streaming apps and how we scroll endlessly through them, paralyzed by indecision.

The site is pretty expansive, featuring just about every Simpsons or Rick & Morty entry you can think of, as well as the whole cold open reel of fake films from Tropic Thunder, just to name some of the examples likely to spark your immediate recollection. But, if you can’t find a nested show or movie you know of, Fisher has laid out criteria for submitting your own suggestions for addition to the site. Any suggestions must be fictional films or shows, must show actual footage (rather than just being mentioned or glimpsed in a poster), and must not be a news or morning show (though the site says this may change).

As of this writing, submissions are closed, likely from a deluge of bemused film and TV buffs.

Kenneth Lowe is a regular contributor to Paste Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter and read more at his blog.