8 Netflix Tricks You Just Can’t Live Without

US Online Streaming Giant Netflix : Illustration
In this photo illustration the Netflix logo is seen on September 19, 2014 in Paris, France. Pascal Le Segretain—Getty Images

Find out how to hide the embarrassing stuff you've been streaming

One of the main reasons Netflix is so popular is because of its simplicity. It’s painfully easy to queue up a movie on your laptop, video game console or mobile device and start watching in mere seconds. But that simplicity means there are a lot of features to Netflix that the average customer may not be using.

Here, we’ve rounded up some useful tips to help you get the most out of Netflix:

See What Movies Are Coming and Going

Netflix’s lineup of movies and TV shows is constantly changing as the company gains and loses licensing rights for different content. It’s difficult to get a full picture of the Netflix library from within the app itself, but a variety of third-party websites can help. Sites like Instant Watcher and What’s New On Netflix offer a daily rundown of new releases on the streaming service. Finding out when movies are going to be removed is a little trickier, because Netflix has purposefully obscured that information. However, the site Now Streaming updates regularly with lists of movies that will soon be going offline.

Get Better Search Options

Search options on Netflix are fairly limited, which can make it hard to ferret out quality movies from the service’s vast amount of content. Sites like Instant Watcher let you filter options by parameters such as year released as well as rating on Netflix and Rotten Tomatoes. And if your favorite movie isn’t on Netflix right now, you can use Can I Stream It or WhereToWatch to find out where else a film might be available to stream legally online.

Use Your Phone As a Remote

On the PlayStation 3, customers can use their phone or tablet to control Netflix instead of a video game controller. First, make sure your mobile device and your PS3 are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Then boot up the Netflix app on both devices, and your phone or tablet can be used to control the movie playing on the big screen — this also works if you’re watching Netflix via a Google Chromecast.

Get Smarter Recommendations

Netflix prides itself on its algorithms that are supposed to serve up content you’ll love that you didn’t even know you wanted. But the process only works if you feed the company a lot of info about what you enjoy. Rate movies regularly to get more precise recommendations, and don’t forget to fill out your taste preferences in your account settings. You can access the taste preferences list by selecting the “Your Account” option on the Web-based version of Netflix.

Change Subtitles

Tired of Netflix’s signature yellow subtitles? You can choose among eight different text colors as well as a background color to place behind the text. The font and text size can also be adjusted. The options are available in the “Your Account” settings on the Web version of Netflix.

Eliminate Buffering

There’s no bigger buzzkill during a riveting movie than being hit with a buffering screen. Netflix has a hidden menu to help you banish buffering. Press Shift + Alt + Left Click (or Shift + Option + Click on a Mac) while streaming a show to bring up a diagnostic screen. Click “Screen Manager,” then select the “Manual” checkbox to alter the stream’s bit rate. A lower number will lower the image quality of the program but will also allow you to watch on a slower connection without constant hiccups. When the buffering screen hits video game consoles and other living room streaming devices, try inputing the code Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Up, Up, Up, Up on the controller or remote to deactivate Netflix, then reboot it.

Make Profiles for Multiple Users

When you’re sharing your Netflix account with multiple friends and family members, the service’s recommendation algorithm can get pretty muddled. Separate the Law and Order fans from the documentary junkies by setting up separate profiles. You can have five in total and each will get its own viewing history and tailored recommendations. Create new profiles using the “Manage Profiles” option in the settings menu on Netflix.com.

Erase Your Viewing History

You gave into your base desires and binged on Bridezillas for five hours one rainy Sunday afternoon. It’s OK—no one ever has to know. Netflix will let you see a log of your vieiwng history and wipe specific items from the record books across all devices. Simply go to the “Your Account” option in the settings menu, click “Viewing Activity” and click the X on any shows you want to erase. Then you can go on watching trashy reality TV with impunity.

Read next: How to Stop Accidentally Closing Your Browser All the Time

TIME Television

Tina Fey Moves New Show to Netflix

Tina Fey and Ellie Kemper
Tina Fey and Ellie Kemper on May 12, 2014 in New York. Slaven Vlasic—Getty Images

Fey's relationship with NBC has extended more than a decade

Tina Fey is taking her show away from NBC.

The writer-actor-producer’s new series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt will now appear on Netflix instead, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Kimmy Schmidt stars Ellie Kemper from The Office as a woman who starts over in New York City after living in a cult.

Fey’s relationship with NBC has extended more than a decade. The television star first became famous as a performer on the channel’s Saturday Night Live program. She eventually became that show’s head writer before creating 30 Rock, another NBC show.


TIME Culture

New Sex Assault Allegation Leveled Against Bill Cosby

Another woman alleges Cosby drugged her into sexual activity decades ago

Another woman has come forward with allegations that she was sexually abused decades ago by actor and comedian Bill Cosby.

Speaking to People, Therese Serignese, 57, claims that when she was 19 years old, Cosby pressured her into taking Quaaludes and engaging in sexual activity after his show in Las Vegas. Serignese also said she provided a supporting deposition in a civil suit back in 2006 that was brought by another accuser and settled out of court.

Since 2005, more than a dozen women have accused Cosby of drugging or sexually abusing them. The allegations — which have not led to criminal charges — have recently garnered increased attention and prompted NBC to drop a planned Cosby sitcom and Netflix to postpone his comedy special.

Read more at People

TIME Companies

Netflix Is Now a Whopping One-Third of Peak Internet Traffic

US Online Streaming Giant Netflix : Illustration
In this photo illustration the Netflix logo is seen on September 19, 2014 in Paris, France. Pascal Le Segretain—Getty Images

But YouTube leads on mobile

Netflix now accounts for more than a third of all downstream Internet traffic during peak evening hours in North America, according to research firm Sandvine.

Netflix’s share of traffic during the second half of 2014 rose to 34.89%, up from 34.21% in the first half of the year, Sandvine found in its biannual report. The figure is the highest for Netflix in Sandvine’s publicly available data since 2011. The streaming service has long dominated downstream Internet usage — a point that’s sparked battles between it and Internet Service Providers like Comcast and Verizon, which have argued Netflix should pay up for the bandwidth it uses.

While Netflix’s share inched up slightly, other tech companies also made gains. Facebook, which has been pushing video heavily this year, saw its traffic share increase from 1.99% to 2.98%. Amazon Video, Netflix’s most direct competitor, rose from a share of 1.9% to 2.58%. YouTube’s share also increased, rising from 13.19% to 14.09%. These gains in traffic came at the expense of iTunes and bitTorrent, which both had their shares dip below 3%.

These figures don’t account for Internet connections made via cellular data networks on mobile devices. On that front, YouTube is the leader with a 19.75% share, and Facebook is right behind it with a 19.05% share.

TIME Media

Nielsen Ratings Could Become a Major Headache for Netflix

Danielle Brooks, Uzo Aduba, Samira Wiley, Vicky Jeudy, Adrienne C. Moore
(L-R) Danielle Brooks, Vicky Jeudy, Uzo Aduba, Adrienne C. Moore, and Samira Wiley in a scene from Netflix's Orange is the New Black Season 2. Jessica Miglio—Netflix

Streaming service may lose leverage if viewership data is widely known

House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black are wildly popular hits that prove Netflix can make shows that compete with the best of cable programming…right? That’s been the narrative around the streaming service over the last year, but hard proof has been harder to come by. Netflix has never provided concrete data validating that its shows are watched by large numbers of viewers.

Soon Nielsen, the standard-bearer for TV ratings, may change that. The TV ratings company revealed to the Wall Street Journal that it’s planning to begin tracking viewership of online video services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video in December by analyzing the audio of shows that are being streamed. The new ratings will come with a lot of caveats—they won’t track mobile devices and won’t take into account Netflix’s large global reach—but they will provide a sense for the first time which Netflix shows are the most popular. And if the rest of the media world latches onto these new ratings as a standard, Netflix won’t be able to ignore them.

Ratings are important on traditional television because they help networks attract advertising. Netflix doesn’t sell ads and has argued that it therefore shouldn’t have to disclose its ratings. “It creates a benchmark that is irrelevant to the business but sexy and exciting to write about and puts a lot of performance pressure on shows that otherwise will be great shows over time,” chief content officer Ted Sarandos said at a conference in 2012. A Netflix spokesperson declined to comment.

But TV ratings are about a lot more than selling ads. Netflix viewership data would give traditional TV networks a better sense of how popular their shows are on the platform and, perhaps more importantly, how essential they are to the overall Netflix experience. This could affect negotiations for licensing programming, especially as more content companies such as CBS and Comcast launch their own streaming services. Networks already regularly leverage the popularity of their programming to extract higher fees from cable operators in very public spats, so they’d likely have no problem pulling Netflix into a similar scrum.

Ratings also help attract talent in the traditional TV world. HBO has risen to the top of the premium cable heap by continually serving up shows that are both critically acclaimed and extremely popular. If Netflix’s original shows are revealed to be watched less than those on TV, it might be harder to attract a David Fincher or a Kevin Spacey to the streaming service (even Fincher and Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan don’t know how popular their Netflix shows are).

Finally, regular ratings could introduce further volatility to Netflix’s already bumpy stock. The company’s share price tumbled more than 25% after it missed its own subscriber growth forecast in October. Investors might be further scared scared off if there were signs that the company’s growing stable of expensive original shows were not as popular as they believed.

Of course, there are ways Nielsen ratings could work in Netflix’s favor. If the company’s shows really are huge hits, that just lends more credence to its narrative as a television disruptor and could help convince more Hollywood stars to work with the streaming service. It’s also possible that Nielsen’s methodology, which is rather vague at the moment, won’t be considered accurate enough to be taken seriously. The company just recently acknowledged that it was reporting inaccurate ratings for the broadcast networks for seven months this year. And Viacom’s CEO has said he wants to adopt different ratings standards because he thinks Nielsen has been too slow to adapt to shifting consumer habits.

Either way, Netflix will probably have to contend with questions about the Nielsen figures from media executives, analysts, and reporters for a quite a while. It’s an unknown variable in their growth story that they’d likely rather not deal with. As the calculating Frank Underwood once said, “There’s a value in having secrets.”

TIME celebrities

Netflix Postpones a Bill Cosby Comedy Special as Fallout Mounts

Bill Cosby
This Nov. 11, 2014, file photo shows entertainer and Navy veteran Bill Cosby speaking during a Veterans Day ceremony, at the The All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors in Philadelphia. Matt Rourke—AP

Comic hit by old sexual assault allegations

Netflix says it is postponing the launch of a Bill Cosby comedy special due to a number of sexual assault allegations against the legendary comedian.

A new stand-up show, Bill Cosby 77, which was taped on his 77th birthday, was due to be aired on Nov. 28, writes the Hollywood Reporter.

“At this time we are postponing the launch of the new stand-up comedy special Bill Cosby 77,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement. Cosby is said to have agreed with the move.

Old allegations from several women, who accuse Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them over a decade ago, resurfaced after comedian Hannibal Buress called the entertainer a rapist.

On Tuesday’s Entertainment Tonight, model Janice Dickenson claimed that Cosby raped her in 1982.

In a radio interview last weekend, Cosby refused to respond to questions over the allegations, although he has vigorously denied all accusations against him in various statements in the past. The famed comic has also never been charged, but Associated Press reports that he did settle a civil suit in 2006 with a woman over an alleged 2004 incident.


Read next: Here’s Everything We Know (and Don’t Know) About the Bill Cosby Rape Allegations

TIME Companies

Nielsen Will Measure Viewing Figures for Netflix and Other Video Streaming Sites

AWXI - Day 2
Senior Correspondent at CBS News, Anthony Mason (L) and CEO at Nielsen, Mitch Barns speak onstage at The Future of Measurement panel September 30, 2014 in New York City. Monica Schipper—2014 Getty Images

The firm aims to gather concrete numbers for online-only shows such as Netflix's Orange is the New Black and House of Cards

Nielsen says it will begin monitoring viewership numbers of online subscription video services (SVOD) from next month, including industry leaders such as Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Instant Video.

Despite Netflix and other streaming sites refusing to disclose viewership figures, Nielsen can analyze each program’s audio components to determine which show is being streamed, according to documents seen by the Wall Street Journal.

This means Nielsen can apparently gather concrete numbers for shows that are only available to watch online, such as Netflix’s Orange is the New Black and House of Cards.

“Our clients will be able to look at their programs and understand: Is putting content on Netflix impacting the viewership on linear and traditional VOD?” Nielsen Senior Vice President Brian Fuhrer told the Journal.

Both Netflix and Amazon declined to comment on the report.

Online streaming sites have seen their subscriptions rise from 34% of U.S. homes in January to 40% in September.

As more people transition from traditional TV viewing to Internet video subscriptions, Nielsen’s data could have a huge impact on negotiating licensing deals for online streaming.


TIME Culture

Here’s Everything We Know (and Don’t Know) About the Bill Cosby Rape Allegations

A timeline of events from 2005 to the present

For decades, Bill Cosby has cultivated his image as a gentle, sweater-clad universal father figure. He was Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable guiding his fictional television children toward smart decisions. He was the Jell-O pitchman, peddling pudding pops as a wholesome snack. And he fashioned himself as the voice of paternal reason for younger black men, urging them to pull up their pants and stay in school. Even if we didn’t agree with him, Cosby’s moral authority meant that when he talked, we listened.

That carefully-crafted image has taken a hit in recent weeks as decade-old accusations that Cosby drugged and raped or molested numerous women have resurfaced. More than a dozen women have now accused the comedian and actor of sexual assault or rape. Cosby has never been criminally charged and has denied the allegations. So what accounts for the renewed attention? And how did these allegations emerge in the first place? Here’s a timeline of how we got here:

March 8, 2005

Andrea Constand, the former director of operations for the Temple University women’s basketball team, files a lawsuit against Cosby, alleging that he drugged and molested her at his home in Pennsylvania in 2004. A local prosecutor had declined to file charges related to the alleged abuse. After Constand’s accusations become public, a second woman, Tamara Green, says on the Today Show that in the 1970s, Cosby gave her pills that knocked her unconscious and then groped her. Court papers in the Constand case mention Green and 12 anonymous women who make similar allegations against the actor and comic. Cosby denies ever molesting any of the women.

June 23, 2005

The Philadelphia Daily News publishes a story identifying Beth Ferrier as one of the anonymous woman mentioned in the Constand court papers. Ferrier says Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in a car in Denver in the 1980s. (The Guardian later reports that Ferrier told her story to the National Enquirer in 2005, but the tabloid killed the story under pressure from Cosby’s lawyers and published his rebuttal and denial instead.)

November 2006

Constand and Cosby settle the lawsuit out of court. The terms are not disclosed.

December 2006

Barbara Bowman, another anonymous woman from the Constand lawsuit, tells People that Cosby had mentored her as an actor in the 1980s and sexually assaulted her in Reno and New York City during that time.

February 2014

Gawker publishes a post summarizing old sexual assault allegations against Cosby. Newsweek publishes interviews with Barbara Bowman and Tamara Green in which the women repeat their earlier allegations.

July 2014

NBC reveals details about a new comedy show it’s developing that will star Cosby as the patriarch of an extended family. The network first announced the show in January.

August 2014

Netflix announces it will air a Cosby stand-up special on Nov. 28.

September 2014

Cosby: His Life and Times, a biography by Mark Whitaker, formerly of Newsweek and CNN, is published. Cosby cooperated with Whitaker and the book does not document the rape and molestation accusations against Cosby. Asked why, Whitaker later said in a statement, “I was aware of the allegations, but ultimately decided not to include them in my book. I didn’t want to print allegations that I couldn’t confirm independently… there were no independent witnesses and no definitive court findings, which did not meet my journalistic or legal standard for including in the biography.”

Meanwhile, the Smithsonian announces Bill and Camille Cosby will loan their collection of African and Africa-American art to the museum.

Oct. 16, 2014

Comedian Hannibal Buress repeatedly calls Cosby a rapist during a show in Philadelphia. A clip of Burress’ standup bit goes viral and in its wake, the Daily Mail publishes a more detailed account of Barbara Bowman’s original accusations. In the article, Bowman says Cosby raped her and calls the actor “a monster.” Buress later tells Howard Stern he had been accusing Cosby of rape on stage for months before the routine got wider notice.

Oct. 30, 2014

TMZ reports that a planned Cosby appearance on the Queen Latifah show has been canceled.

Nov. 10, 2014

A seemingly innocuous tweet from Bill Cosby’s account goes sideways when people on Twitter respond by creating Cosby memes about rape, drawing more attention to the accusations. The tweet has since been deleted.

Nov. 13, 2014

The Washington Post publishes an op-ed by Bowman, in which she repeats her allegations.

Nov. 14, 2014

Cosby’s Nov. 19 appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman is canceled.

Nov. 15, 2014

In an NPR interview with Cosby and his wife Camille, who were on hand to discuss loaning their art collection to the Smithsonian, host Scott Simon asks Cosby to respond to the “serious allegations” that have been raised about him “in recent days.” Cosby refuses to answer, staying silent and shaking his head.

Nov. 16, 2014

A lawyer for Cosby releases a statement on the actor’s personal website calling the sexual assault and rape allegations “discredited” and saying, “Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment.” The reported statement appears to have been removed from Cosby’s website.

Nov. 16, 2014

The website Hollywood Elsewhere publishes an account by a woman named Joan Tarshis, in which she says Cosby drugged and raped her in New York City in 1969.

Nov. 17, 2014

On The View, Whoopi Goldberg expresses skepticism about the accusations leveled against Cosby, wondering aloud why one woman who came forward did not go to the police or hospital after the alleged assaults. Of the settlement reached with Andrea Constand, the original accuser, Goldberg said, “Settlements don’t necessarily mean you’re guilty. You generally settle because you don’t want to put your family through it again…I’m going to reserve my judgement. I have a lot of questions.”

Nov. 18, 2014

Model Janice Dickinson tells Entertainment Tonight that Cosby raped her in 1982 and that she never reported the alleged incident to police. Cosby lawyer Martin Singer calls the Dickinson allegation a “complete lie.” Meanwhile, Netflix says it is postponing its Cosby stand-up special that was scheduled to air Nov. 28.

Nov. 19, 2014

NBC announces it is halting development of its new show starring Cosby.

Netflix postpones a Bill Cosby comedy special set to air Nov. 28.

TV Land yanks reruns of The Cosby Show.

Previous Cosby accuser Tamara Green writes an op-ed for the Entertainment Tonight website in which she says police and a prosecutor did not respond to her complaints that Cosby sexually assaulted her. A lawyer for Cosby had previously said Cosby did not know the woman, nor did he assault her.

The Associated Press releases a portion of a video interview shot on Nov. 6 in which Cosby refuses to answer questions about rape allegations made against him. “I don’t talk about it,” Cosby says. The comedian and his wife Camille were being interviewed about loaning art to the Smithsonian. Once the formal interview concludes, but with the camera still rolling, Cosby asks the reporter never to air the part of the video in which he is asked and refuses to comment. “I would appreciate it if it was scuttled,” says Cosby.

Nov. 20, 2014

More women come forward, as Cosby stays silent and his legal team continues to deny he committed sexual assault or rape. Cosby lawyer Martin Singer criticizes what he says is a “media feeding frenzy.”

A woman claiming to be one of the alleged anonymous Cosby victims mentioned the 2005 Constand lawsuit tells her to story to People. Therese Serignese says she was 19 when she met Cosby in Las Vegas in 1976. She says he invited her to a backstage green room after a show and offered her Quaaludes, which she accepted. The comedian then sexually assaulted her, Serignese alleges. The woman also says that she subsequently had a sexual relationship with Cosby and later asked him for money

An actress named Louisa Moritz, tells TMZ that Cosby sexually assaulted her in 1971 while she was waiting backstage to appear on the Johnny Carson show. Cosby lawyer Martin Singer tells TMZ, “We’ve reached a point of absurdity. The stories are getting more ridiculous.”

Carla Ferrigno, wife of “Incredible Hulk” actor Lou Ferrigno, tells The Daily Mail that in 1967, Cosby forcefully kissed her. Ferrigno describes the incident as “physically violent.”

Renita Chaney Hill tells a local news station in Pittsburgh that she met Cosby in the 1980s, accepted money from him and believes he drugged and sexually assaulted her in various hotel rooms.

Cosby performs a show at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas.

Nov. 21, 2014

Angela Leslie tells the New York Daily News that Cosby sexually assaulted her in a Las Vegas hotel room in 1992.

Kristina Ruehli tells Philadelphia magazine she was one of the anonymous accusers mentioned in the Constand lawsuit. Ruehli says while she was a secretary at a talent agency that represented Cosby, he invited her to his house where he drugged her and tried to force her to perform oral sex.

Several theaters cancel upcoming Cosby performances.

Read next: Yes, Bill Cosby Actually Told a Joke About Drugging Women In a Comedy Routine


Why Cable Companies Don’t Have to Fear Streaming Services—Yet

Ian G. Dagnall—Alamy

Right now, the business model is heavily tilted toward pay-TV providers. However, as more individuals choose to cut the cord those conditions will be reversed.

Following the lead of Time Warner’s TIME WARNER INC. TWX 1.2403% HBO and CBS’ CBS CORP. CBS 2.0923% All Access, the latter decided to offer its own premium network, Showtime, as a streaming Internet service in 2015. And while this continues the trend of programmers looking outside of traditional satellite and cable providers in order to reach cord cutters, should Time Warner Cable TIME WARNER CABLE INC. TWC 2.2908% and Comcast COMCAST CORP. CMCSA 2.9174% fear these new moves?

One thing is for sure, cable is quickly changing. Once considered a near-necessity, the rise of streaming-based services like Netflix and Hulu Plus has given rise to those without pay-TV service; a recent Experian Marketing survey found that nearly 6.5% of all U.S. households are without pay TV, up from 4.5% in 2010. Buoyed by the success of those two, HBO and CBS are now looking to take advantage of this trend.

One big problem …

The elephant in the room is cost. While we don’t know the exact cost of Showtime’s new subscription, and HBO’s $15 a month price tag hasn’t been confirmed by the company, the overtures appear to not signal the death of cable … yet. Adding up the host of streaming-based services lies an inconvenient fact: Cable appears to be a better deal. The FCC estimated the average basic cable bill at $64.41 per month in 2013. With CBS All Access pricing its service at $6, one could only purchase 10 channels for the average cable bill at this price.

And while we don’t know the pricing for the premium channels yet, numerous outlets point toward $15 per month for HBO’s streaming service. If so, that’s what pay-TV subscribers pay for the service. And considering CBS All Access is already priced so high, one assumes Showtime will have a rather high price tag as well.

In the end, this pricing appears to be a play for those without pay TV rather than encouragement for users to cut the cord. And if so, pay-TV providers are still negotiating programming costs – even when they are not involved in the billing process. In what’s quickly taking on a smoky backroom deal feel, programmers are still giving deference to pay-TV providers with consumers getting cut out of the negotiation process.

Even so, Time Warner Cable and Comcast aren’t taking anything for granted

The pay-TV industry is rapidly consolidating among fears of a mature and declining market. AT&T is in the process of acquiring DirecTV and Comcast seeks to acquire Time Warner Cable. Both acquisitions are under FCC and DOJ review, mostly due to these the market power this industry has once these approvals go through. Many fear cable bills will be jacked up as a result of near-monopolistic conditions.

However, due to earlier negotiations, Time Warner Cable and Comcast really don’t compete in the same geographies, making the monopoly power argument moot. However, the newly combined entity has the power to more effectively control programming cost increases that are quickly rising. Instead of competing with each other when CBS and other stations want higher affiliate fees, the combined entity will be better prepared to fight them.

And those fees are increasing quickly: SNL Kagan estimates those costs to rise 36% by 2018. And considering your cable company is essentially a toll road of sorts, it must take those price increases, add their profit margin, and pass along the higher bill to you the consumer. If the combined entity can negotiate those fees downward, it has the potential to slow cable increases.

Interesting development, but cable still wins for now …

Unfortunately, it appears streaming, stand-alone programming pricing still shows deference toward pay-TV providers. And that makes sense; right now, the business model is heavily tilted toward pay-TV providers. However, as more individuals choose to cut the cord those conditions will be reversed. Although these moves won’t topple pay-TV companies overnight, the industry is slowing moving to cut pay-TV providers out of the process.

TIME movies

Gillian Jacobs Learned Community Was Moving to Yahoo Like the Rest of Us: On Twitter

Gillian Jacobs
Gillian Jacobs Jordan Strauss—Invision/AP

The Life Partners actress talks about her upcoming Girls role and why the new Community episodes could still end up back on TV

Gillian Jacobs is about to rule streaming video: her cult hit Community is headed to Yahoo and she has a Netflix series with Judd Apatow in the works. But first, she’s starring in Life Partners, a movie about two co-dependent best friends that hits video-on-demand on Nov. 6 and arrives in theaters in Dec. 5. TIME caught up with the actress to talk about female friendship, her ideal night in and whether this year is the Year of the Gillians.

TIME: Your co-star Leighton Meester said much of this movie was improvised. How was that?
Gillian Jacobs: I think there was a lot of it that was scripted, and then there’s probably a lot of moments in there that are just us goofing around that they kept in. I’d have to re-watch the movie right now to tell you what I remember being improvised. But I remember it was a really loose, fun atmosphere where it just felt like everyone was hanging out.

Is the director like, “Come on guys, get serious, we need to finish this movie”?
We were professionals about it, but I think they were excited that Leighton and I were getting along because we didn’t know each other before we started the movie. That was a big risk for them, casting two people who never really spent time together.

You two do play convincing best friends.
We didn’t have trailers on that movie, so it’d be everyone hanging out in whatever place we were shooting. Sometimes that gets a little tiresome, but a lot of time that leads to people getting to know each other better and hanging out more, which is great.

So is Leighton your BFF now?
I love Leighton! I have not seen her recently — she was in New York for a long time doing Of Mice and Men, but I think she is one of the nicest, sweetest, funniest people I’ve ever worked with.

The main characters, Sasha and Paige, spend a lot of time just lounging around and cracking jokes in this movie. What’s your ideal girls’ night in?
Watching bad TV and eating food that’s not good for you are two key ingredients, I believe. If at some point along the way you get a pedicure, that sounds pretty perfect.

Sasha and Paige also watch a lot of America’s Next Top Model. Are you a fan?
I haven’t been watching that show as much recently as I have everything that’s on Bravo.

So do you have a favorite Real Housewives franchise?
That’s such a hard question.

They’re like your children.
Exactly. They’re each unique and special in their own way. Maybe Beverly Hills, just because I see some of them around L.A. That is a unique thrill — seeing housewives in the wild.

Do you get starstruck with reality stars?
Oh yes, are you kidding me? I was staying at the Trump SoHo in New York when I was shooting Girls, and they put up every reality star there. Every day I would walk through the lobby and see someone incredible and have to text all my friends.

Speaking of Girls, your upcoming role has been shrouded a bit in mystery. Give me a scoop!
I don’t want to get in trouble with Lena or Jenni Konner, so I’m not going to give you anything good, but how about this: there’s an episode where I wear a full set of pajamas as daywear.

Sounds tough.
It’s the most comfortable costume I’ve ever worn.

Have Girls and Life Partners given you new insight into female friendship?
I felt like Life Partners did clearly describe unique things about friendship — not just friendship between girls. I felt like it was really true and honest, and I think I related more to this script, just in terms of my own life and my own problems or shortcomings, way more than I have with other scripts. So that was exciting — you don’t always feel that way.

Your Life Partners love interest is played by Adam Brody, who was dating Leighton while you were filming. The director said that was sometimes awkward. Was it?
Well, I’m a very awkward person. At no point did Leighton or Adam try and make it awkward or say anything — I’m just a nervous Nellie. We’re all also actors, so we’re used to this weird job in which we kiss people who are not are significant others. They’re familiar with the concept.

They were stars of some very important teen dramas. In the battle of The O.C. versus Gossip Girl, where do your loyalties lie?
Well, I have huge gaps in my TV-watching because for a long time I didn’t own a TV. When those shows were on the air, I did not own a television, so I have to sadly say I’m not really that familiar with either one of them. But I do remember a lot of my friends in New York being completely obsessed with Gossip Girl.

You should clear your weekend plans and get caught up.
I have my homework cut out for me.

With Life Partners going to video-on-demand first, Community coming to Yahoo and your upcoming Netflix series, you’re really diving into streaming video. Have you noticed that?
Yeah. I remember a couple years ago my friend [House of Cards creator] Beau Willimon was like, “I’m going to do this show for Netflix,” and I was like “Okay, sure, Netflix.” He was such a visionary to see where television was going. I feel really excited by it. Being on network television is not always the most fun. There’s a lot of pressure and demand for audience and people tuning in to watch it live, and I’m not entirely sure that’s the way people watch things anymore. You’re just hoping and praying people are going to sit down at their TV. If you’re a critically acclaimed but not publicized show, it’s pretty daunting. It’s nice to feel liberated from that.

Does moving to Yahoo give Community a chance to do anything it couldn’t have gotten away with before?
I don’t really know what the new rules are. I wonder if these episodes will eventually have to air on TV because of our syndication deal. I’ve not really had a conversation with anyone about that. I have no idea if they can really go nuts with them, or if they still have to keep them within the rules and regulations of TV.

Were you as surprised bythe move as many us were? It sounded like a last-minute deal.
They don’t really ever tell us anything, so I read about it on Twitter. It was the final day of our contracts. I had heard some rumbling that it might happen but nothing really definite, so I read it like you did. I read it probably on Deadline Hollywood.

I don’t know if you’ve seen Gone Girl, but with the success of Gillian Flynn and her book, and with all the cool projects you have coming up, is this the Year of the Gillians?
Wait, but I have a question, is she Gillian [with a hard G] or Gillian [with a soft G]? Because That’s the great American debate.

She’s [hard G] Gillian like you.
She is?!

Oh my God, I’m so excited to know shes a hard G-Gillian. There aren’t very many of us.

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