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 4, though, we can now get at least one little peek behind the curtain. The list of Netflix’s daily Top 4 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 March 28, 2022, of the most popular TV shows and movies on Netflix.
Creators: Chris Van Dusen
Stars: Phoebe Dynevor, Regé-Jean Page, Adjoa Andoh, Jonathan Bailey, Nicola Coughlan, Polly Walker, Julie Andrews
Genre: Historical drama
All hail Bridgerton, Netflix’s lush, swoony adaptation of a set of romance novels. The thirsty series focuses on a London family with eight children, all of whom were blessed with good genes and five (or six?) of whom are currently of marriageable age. And thus, in this Regency-era setting, the game is afoot with the quippy, mysterious gossip Lady Whistledown as our guide. There are balls and rakes and other things that had a completely different meaning in the 1800s, but one thing that has not changed is how electrifying the buttoning of a glove or the slight touch of hands can be in the right context. The show also gets pretty explicit at times, but does so with a nearly revolutionary female gaze for a period drama. As such, it is as pearl-clutching as one can get (and not a show to watch with one’s family). Although all of the Bridgerton siblings appear during the show’s eight episodes, the first season focuses primarily on eldest daughter Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) as she enters society and attempts to secure a marriage proposal. Initially the talk of the town, her standing falls with the arrival of a beautiful newcomer, so to escape a loveless marriage with an unsavory man chosen for her by her eldest brother, Daphne strikes a deal with the extremely handsome and newly titled Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page), a committed bachelor with twice the bodice-ripping hero energy any one man should possess. In a classic fake-dating scenario, the Duke pretends to court Daphne in order to raise her value in the marriage market, while their agreement keeps women from throwing themselves at him. It’s a win-win situation … until the two develop real feelings for one another, of course. Bridgerton isn’t perfect, but it’s a candy-colored, gloriously anachronistic romp that brings a new vivacity to bonnet dramas (leaving most of the bonnets aside, for one), and is great fun. —Allison Keene and Kaitlin Thomas
2. Blade Runner 2049
Director: Denis VilleneuveStars: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas
Blade Runner 2049 is undoubtedly the most gorgeous thing to come out of a major studio in some time. Roger Deakins has inculcated Jordan Cronenweth’s lived-in sense of a future on the brink of obsolescence, leaning into the overpowering unease that permeates the monolithic Los Angeles Ridley Scott built. The scale of the film is only matched by the constant dread of obscurity—illumination shifts endlessly, dust and smog both magnifying and drowning the sense-shattering corporate edifices and hyper-stylized rooms in which humanity retreats from the moribund natural world they’ve created. There is a massive world, a solar system, orbiting this wretched city—so overblown that San Diego is now a literal giant dump for New L.A.’s garbage—but so much of it lies in shadow and opacity, forever out of reach. What Scott and Cronenweth accomplished with the original film, placing a potboiler within a magnificently conceived alternative reality, Villeneuve and Deakins have respected as they prod at its boundaries. There’s no other way to describe what they’ve done other than to offer faint praise: They get it. —Dom Sinacola.
3. Is It Cake?
Star: Mikey Day
Genre: Crime Documentary
Sometimes an idea comes along so ridiculous that it makes the perfect competition reality show. Is it cake? asks it’s judges the existential question, “Is it cake?” Nine bakers with “the incredibly specific skill” to make cakes look like everyday objects compete for cash prizes. Hosted by SNL cast member Mikey Day, the show leans into its silly conceit, while showcasing the actual impressive talent of its contestants.
4. Inventing Anna
Creator: Shonda Rhimes
Stars: Anna Chlumsky, Julia Garner, Arian Moayed, Anders Holm, Laverne Cox
In the late 2010s, a young woman going by the name of Anna Delvey effortlessly conned New York’s rich and powerful into believing she was a German heiress, defrauding both people and institutions out of vast sums of money to support her lavish lifestyle. In 2019 she was found guilty and sent to prison, but by then—thanks in large part to a New York Magazine article by Jessica Pressler detailing the case and the mysterious woman behind it—Anna was a star. Netflix’s new nine-episode miniseries Inventing Anna is based on Pressler’s “How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People,” a viral sensation that drew the attention of prolific showrunner Shonda Rhimes, who helms this fictionalized take as part of her lucrative overall deal with the streamer. It’s the perfect Shondaland series in that it is incredibly fun to watch but filled with issues. The first is star Julia Garner’s divisive accent. If you can get past that, though, Inventing Anna is undeniably engrossing. It’s a mystery where we watch Anna Chlumsky’s Vivian Kent (based on Pressler) unravel the story, first by sensing there is more to this story after Anna’s arrest, then convincing her editors to back her on it, and ultimately explaining to Anna herself that she is the one who can tell it the right way. But even when Anna consents to be interviewed, she is an inscrutable figure, one who Vivian refers to her as both a scared girl and Hannibal Lecter. By all accounts, both are true. It’s also delightful to see frivolously rich people get played by someone who uses their own tricks and mores against them. Anna was able to so easily move to the pinnacle of New York society because she understood, as Vivian later reveals, that by flashing money and posturing as wealthy and unbothered, doors would open. They did. The story lays bare a damning portrait of a shallow and money-obsessed culture of elites (and those who leech off of them), while also making us wish that we were a part of it. Who is Anna Delvey? An heiress? A folk hero? A con woman? A girl with a dream? An aspiration? An inspiration? Perhaps Anna Delvey is, and was, whoever you need her to be. —Allison Keene