Most Popular on Netflix: A Look at Today's Top 10

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Most Popular on Netflix: A Look at Today's Top 10

Netflix has been notoriously stingy with its data. Even directors and showrunners have had a hard time gauging if what they’d put out into the world was reaching its intended audience. With the advent of the Netflix Top 10, though, we can now get at least one little peek behind the curtain. The list of Netflix’s daily Top 10 Most Popular indicates an omnivorous appetite among the Netflix faithful, from reality shows to prestige TV, animated kids shows to docu-series of every stripe. Here are the entries for January 24, 2022, of the most popular TV shows and movies on Netflix.

1. Ozark

Year: 2017-2022
Creator: Bill Dubuque, Mark Williams
Stars: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Sofia Hublitz, Skylar Gaertner
Genre: Drama
Rating: TV-MA

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When a white-collar, middle-class family gets involved with the dangerous drug cartel, the Breaking Bad and Weeds comparisons don’t just show up—they’re practically mailed a hand-lettered invitation. And it’s true that the premise of Netflix’s Ozark sets us up for yet another steeply angled slide; by now, we expect we’ll witness the awakening of a desperate man’s latent evil. But there are several critical elements at play to keep the drug-dealing anti-hero trope from feeling like a song we’ve heard one too many times. All these elements center on the prevailing ethics of Ozark’s main character, Martin Byrde (Jason Bateman). Here we see Bateman in a dramatic turn vaguely reminiscent of his most well-known role, as Arrested Development’s Michael Bluth. Martin is a man who wants to be honest, but is willing to lie when he believes his lie to be in the service of the greater good. (In this case, the greater good is his family’s survival). Marty, a financial planner, starts out in the right place at the right time when he stumbles into the opportunity to launder money for—as he endearingly insists on reminding everyone—the second most powerful group of Mexican drug runners. His devotion to “the numbers” and pragmatic, stoic resourcefulness are what make him stand out as a “special” candidate to the cartel’s charismatic (and convincingly terrifying) Chicago liaison, Del (Esai Morales). But Ozark is pinned up by a buoyant implication: that maybe the right person can go a little bit bad, without rotting all the way. Perhaps it is this perpetual game of keep-away that keeps Marty’s hands clean (and his head, for now, intact). The story, at least so far, is one of a man who combats what he’s up against in a way that he believes is right. Ozark takes the anti-hero territory we’ve seen before and elevates it by making its lead not a just a contrarian rule-breaker, but a truly good bad guy—one to root for. —Kate Watson

2. Archive 81

Year: 2022
Creator: Rebecca Sonnenshine
Stars: Mamoudou Ahtie, Dina Shihabi, Matt McGory, Julia Chan, Evan Jonigkeit
Genre: Horror, thriller
Rating: TV-MA

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The hit podcast is now a TV series about an archivist, some videotapes, a missing director and a demonic cult. Mamoudou Athie stars as Dan Turner, who’s paid a large sum of money to restore footage recorded by grad student Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi), who was living in a mysterious New York building for a research project. The mystery unfolds over the course of eight episodes, all of which dropped on Jan. 14, as the videos get increasingly strange—and personal for Dan.

3. Too Hot to Handle

Year: 2022
Genre: Reality TV
Rating: TV-MA

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When it comes to reality TV, if you believe the trashier, the better, this American-British series may have been created just for you. The young, beautiful singles thrown together must forego any kind of sexual contact to win the ultimate prize. The third season debuted Jan. 19.

4. The Royal Treatment

Years: 2022
Director: Rick Jacobson
Stars: Laura Marano, Mena Massoud, Chelsie Preston Crayford,
Genre: Romance
Rating: TV-PG

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Another by-the-book romantic comedy churned out by Netflix featuring an “everyday” girl and the prince of a fictional country.

5. Cheer

Years: 2021-2022
Creators: Greg Whiteley
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA

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Directed and executive produced by Greg Whitely from fellow sports series Last Chance U, this docuseries follows the cheer squad of 14-time NCA National Champions, Navarro College. You can expect a lot of cheerleading, happy feelings and dramatic crying amidst hardship and all that good stuff. The show has won three Emmy Awards and the TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming. —Rachita Vasandani

6. Cobra Kai

Years: 2018-2022
Creators: Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Stars: Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridueña, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser, Jacob Bertrand, Gianni Decenzo, Martin Kove
Genre: Drama
Rating: TV-14

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Cobra Kai never dies. And thank goodness. The series, which continues The Karate Kid story, survived two seasons in relative obscurity on YouTube, an overwhelmingly successful transition to Netflix and remains, in its fourth season, the rare revival that fans still really want to see. The secret to the show’s success is its loving embrace of its source material—warts and all. The law of diminishing returns was hard at work with The Karate Kid franchise. By the time we got to The Karate Kid Part III things had gone, shall we say, rather astray. And Cobra Kai knows it. The big news about Season 4, of course, is that Thomas Ian Griffith returns to reprise his role as the nefarious Terry Silver, John Kreese’s (Martin Kove) old pal from the Vietnam War. In The Karate Kid Part III we are introduced to Terry as he is signing a plutonium deal and saying things like “For the next few weeks my business is strictly revenge.” Not exactly subtle. But it was the ’80s right? Excess was the name of the game. Now Terry is living in a modern oceanfront mansion, drinking expensive wine, eating tofu and practicing mindfulness. Kreese wants to pull him back into the dojo. Together they can win the All Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament. Despite my quibbles, I still love Cobra Kai. The show is such an enjoyable romp. I’m happy to spend time with the characters and their karate-loving world no matter how inane the story lines might be. I hope Cobra Kai never dies. —Amy Amatangelo

7. Annabelle: Creation

Year: 2017
Director: David F. Sandberg
Stars: Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Eliana Bateman, Lulu Wilson, Anthony LaPaglia
Genre: Horror
Rating: R

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At almost two hours, Annabelle: Creation is far too long for a cheapo spin-off horror flick. It’s as if screenwriter Gary Dauberman stuffed the script with every single idea for one of these set pieces, and director David F. Sandberg decided to keep every one of them without any care for pacing and storytelling rhythm. Sandberg is a stylish horror director with a unique vision. His previous feature, Lights Out, also wasn’t strong in the screenplay department, but showed a clear talent for building on genre expectations. He shows some of that flair here, with a smooth steadicam shot that introduces the orphans to the dollmaker’s house, as well as some trippy transitions, like the one that ends in a spinning shot from inside a well. But no amount of style can save Annabelle: Creation from ending up as yet another utterly forgettable, predictable and ultimately dull piece of cynical PG-13 horror franchising.—Oktay Ege Kozak

8. That Girl Lay Lay

Years: 2021-
Creators: David A. Arnold
Stars: That Girl Lay Lay, Gabrielle Nevaeh Green, Tiffany Daniels, Thomas Hobson
Genre: Sitcom
Rating: TV-14

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Struggling in middle school and need an avatar? There’s an app for that. Or at least with a little magic, your hype girl (Lay Lay, played by That Girl Lay Lay) from your phone can come to life and help you deal with the struggles of adolescence. Stand-up comic David A. Arnold (Fuller House) created the show for Nickelodeon last year.

9. The Witcher

Years: 2020-2021
Creator: Lauren Schmidt Hissrich
Stars: Henry Cavill, Freya Allan, Eamon Farren, Anya Chalotra, Joey Batey
Genre: Reality
Rating: TV-14

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Based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels that spawned an extremely popular gaming franchise, Netflix’s series remains both fully engrossing and fully ridiculous. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Like any good bard, Hissrich understands that both parts are necessary to tell a great fantasy tale. It’s also worth noting that Season 2 is a marked improvement over that messy, if enjoyable, first season. More episodic in nature, especially at the start, the series can now let us relish in everything that was previously established. That means Geralt traveling with Ciri—the Child of Surprise whose powers and lineage become more surprising by the day—mourning what he believes is the death of Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), and meeting up with more witchers at their stronghold in Kaer Morhen, including Geralt’s mentor, Vesemir (Kim Bodnia).

Starting small and expanding exponentially with each new episode, this new season sees the foundations of what we learned in the first season play out practically as we follow Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) and his ward Ciri (Freya Allen). In addition to Geralt’s witcher brethren, we’re introduced more fully to elven culture, the politics of Redania and Nilfgaard, the neverending backstabbing of various mage factions, and to a host of fascinating side characters who breathe new life into the show’s world and lore—not to mention some terrifying monsters. Familiar faces, like Yennefer’s mentor Tissaia (MyAnna Burning), Nilfgaardian commander Cahir (Eamon Farren), kind mage Triss Merigold (Anna Shaffer), the historian Istredd (Royce Pierreson), and devout Fringilla (Mimi M. Khayisa) also make memorable returns, each adding to the rich tapestry of this growing world.

But it is a staid Geralt, more or less resigned to his fate and laser-focused on the protection of Ciri, who remains the series’ anchor. Cavill again excels at portraying this hunky mutant fighter as tired and largely over it, but also as someone who has been around for a long time and seen some shit in his day. His expertise, not just in the realm of monsters but of men, is peppered throughout in casually nuanced ways. He also gets to take part in a few exceptionally gnarly fights, which are creatively violent punctuations unafraid to add humor into the mix. Still, Season 2 is really Ciri’s story, and anyone who has played The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt knows that following the lion cub of Cintra and trying to discern what’s happening and where she’s going is central to any Witcher story. Geralt may have keep of her here (for the most part, there is a side mission he follows on his own), but the rest of the characters in the story are all chasing after her because of her status as a princess, the prophesy suggesting her magical power, or to capture her for any number of interested parties looking to use her for their own ends. Meanwhile, Freya Allen perfectly channels the changeability of a young girl trying to understand who she is and her place in the world, and what agency she might yet possess in both strength and grace.
Allison Keene

10. Cocomelon

Year: 2020
Genre: Kids, Animation
Rating: TV-Y

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The massively popular YouTube channel is now a Netflix show, sure to worm its way into the brains of kids and parents everywhere. The 3D animated nursery and kids songs have already been streamed billions of times online and has consistently popped in and out of Netflix’s “most popular” lineup for more than a year.