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 November 29 of the most popular TV shows and movies on Netflix.

1. True Story

Year: 2021
Creator: Kevin Hart, Eric Newman
Stars: Kevin Hart, Wesley Snipes, Tawny Newsome, Will Catlett, Paul Adelstein, Theo Rossi, Ash Santos, John Ales, Chris Diamantopoulos, Lauren London, Billy Zane
Genre: Drama

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In his first dramatic series role, Kevin Hart plays Kid, a famous comedian whose latest movie is about to cross the $1 billion dollar mark. Kid’s entourage—including his manager Todd (Paul Adelstein), his bodyguard Herschel (Will Catlett), and his under-appreciated writer Billie (Tawny Newsome)—are all tasked with keeping Kid’s career and his image going strong. Things kick off when Kid checks into the Four Seasons in his hometown of Philadelphia, where he thinks he’ll be doing a few shows, hanging out with some old friends, and spending some quality time with his older (and often problematic) brother Carlton (Wesley Snipes). While Kid is hilarious, True Story is definitely not. Keep an eye out for an unsettling turn from Billy Zane as one of Carlton’s friends, and several unexpected plot twists in the pilot. —Amy Amatangelo


2. Bruised

Year: 2021
Director: Halle Berry
Stars: Halle Berry, Shamier Anderson, Adan Canto, Sheila Atim
Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Runtime: 132 minutes

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Oscar winner Halle Berry makes her directorial debut with Bruised, a drama about the world of mixed martial arts fighting in which she also stars. Written by Michelle Rosenfarb, Bruised follows Jackie “Justice,” a disgraced MMA fighter dealing with the sudden reappearance of her six-year-old son, Manny, whom she walked out on years ago. In Bruised, Jackie must not only face her own demons and compete with one of the fiercest rising stars in the MMA world, but also fight to become the mother her child deserves. Berry, who starred in John Wick 3: Parabellum opposite Keanu Reeves, reunites here with John Wick producer Basil Iwanyk of Thunder Road Pictures, along with Entertainment 360, Linda Gottlieb and the team behind the fight choreography in John Wick. —Stephan Cho


3. Selling Sunset

selling-sunset.jpg Year: 2019-2020
Creator: Adam DiVello
Stars: Chrishell Stause, Christine Quinn, Maya Vander, Mary Fitzgerald, Heather Young, Davina Potratz, Romain Bonnet, Amanza Smith, Jason Oppenheim, Brett Oppenheim
Genre: Reality TV

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The real-estate agents to the rich and famous are back for a third season of drama, including a wedding, a cameo from Queer Eye’s Karamo and lots of high-priced listings.


4. The Queen of Flow

Year: 2018-2021
Creator: Claudia Sánchez, Said Chamie
Stars: Carolina Ramírez, Carlos Torres, Andrés Sandoval, Adriana Arango
Genre: Drama
Rating: TV-MA

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This Colombian telenovela follows Yeimy Montoya (Carolina Ramírez), an aspiring singer/songwriter who was framed for drug trafficking and is released after spending 17 years in prison in exchange for assisting the DEA in bringing down the gangster who had her imprisoned. The first season debuted in 2018 as the top series in Colombia, and the second season came out this year.


5. A Castle for Christmas

Year: 2021
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Stars: Brooke Shields, Cary Elwes, Lee Ross
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Rating: TV-G

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Netflix is a Christmas-movie making machine, and the latest features Brooke Shields as a writer trying to finish a book in a castle she wants to buy if she can tolerate its owner, a duke (former Dread Pirate Roberts, Cary Elwes) who is trying to make her miserable in order to keep her from buying it. But the castle may not be the only thing she falls in love with in this holiday romantic comedy.


6. Red Notice

Year: 2021
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Ritu Arya, Chris Diamantopoulos
Genre: Action Comedy
Rating: PG-13

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What happens when Hollywood’s marquee trio has the combined charisma of a wet paper towel? This question is inadvertently posed by Red Notice, Netflix’s latest blockbuster, which is ripe with CGI and plays like it was written by one of those AI-trained bots—with this particular one having been fed hundreds of hours of soulless, money-wasting heist flicks. The film follows FBI criminal profiler John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson), as he attempts to catch one of the world’s leading art thieves, Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds), who is on a mission to steal Cleopatra’s mythic sparkling eggs. But the two get outsmarted by femme fatale art thief The Bishop (Gal Gadot) and end up in prison while she attempts to snag the eggs for herself. Where does that leave the duo? They’ve got to break out of prison and take the relics for themselves, of course.

When the three leads are together, one can’t help but wonder if they’ve ever been in the same room. In fact, their intense lack of chemistry makes me suspect that their scenes are actually a composite of three people acting in different studios. Gadot’s glaring lack of comedic timing clashes with Reynolds’ expertise in that area, and Johnson and Reynolds seem only minimally invested in one another, which makes the film’s quasi-buddy-cop undertone a hard sell. All three act like they’re in their own movie—whether it’s Deadpool or Wonder Woman or Furious 7—and none seem to have gotten the memo that no one else is in that movie with them.

But this lack of magnetism doesn’t just result in boredom on the audience’s part. No, the larger issue here is that the characters seem bored with the film. Johnson, Reynolds and Gadot aren’t usually without charisma—in fact, in some of their other movies, they are impossible to look away from. Perhaps what’s most impressive about Red Notice, then, is the fact that Thurber somehow manages to transform these beloved stars into charisma vacuums by turning them into perfunctory setpieces, just like the film’s implausible Nazi bunker or, God forbid, its CGI bull. Red Notice doesn’t even bother looking good. Computer-generated imagery is abundant and looks unabashedly fake, which not only makes for flat, stale images, but also which makes one wonder what the studio spent that $200M budget on. The film hops from beautiful location to beautiful location—a masquerade ball in Valencia, a jungle in Argentina, a wedding in Cairo, a cruise off the Cayman Islands—and yet everything looks impossibly sterile and uninspiring, donning a uniform, distinct color palette that looks like someone vomited baked beans all over the most beautiful cities in the world.

What’s more concerning than any of this, though, is that the powers that be at Netflix put their heads together—using their advanced algorithms and personal data—and came to the conclusion that this is what will pull the masses in: A lifeless, impersonal movie with three great stars at their most lifeless and impersonal, is ultimately what will resonate with society the most. Yes, this is worth the streamer’s biggest budget to date. And that’s a scary, scary thought. —Aurora Amidon


7. Cowboy Bebop

Year: 2021
Creator: Christopher Yost
Stars: John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, Daniella Pineda
Genre: Sci-Fi
Rating: TV-MA

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Back in the day, Shinichiro Watanabe’s Cowboy Bebop was an ironclad argument in favor of anime’s coolness, a testament to the power of animation and its ability to tell unique stories other mediums struggled with. Netflix’s live-adaption, however, often feels like a slap in the face. Many moments in these 10 hourlong episodes go beyond just your average cringey attempt at recapturing the magic of the source material it’s based on—it’s actively grotesque in its bastardization of the original show, which has been contorted into a full-blown black comedy by writer Christopher Yost, known for his work on Thor: Ragnarok and The Mandalorian. Seeing Yost’s name slapped on the show’s credits contextualizes a lot of the misgivings I have towards it—it’s almost as if, after finding out the original show was animated, Yost decided it must be as garishly cartoonish as possible. The result is a litany of cornball recycled jokes from his previous works and a certain Rick and Morty-esque tone that pervades odiously throughout each episode, rippling towards a staunch insincerity and near-offensive emotional whiplash which verges on the exploitative.

Cowboy Bebop is bloody, and needlessly so. Each episode arguably features more gore than is present in the entire anime. The rampant cruelty on display is also at odds with the jokey tone the show seems to be going for—while mowing down leagues of people, shooting them in gruesome places like the forehead or a supposedly pregnant belly, Spike (John Cho) and Jet (Mustafa Shakir) might quip about lost bounties, their disgust with space meat, or brutalizing their charges, all set to wacky music. One particular instance—a body horror scene involving a tree—felt so out of line with what anyone could expect going into the show (even as a fan of the anime) that it’s a wonder they managed to get it approved.

The buddy cop aspect of the anime is heightened to an extreme here, complete with flat dialogue and childish humor—there’s a lot of “I told you so’s,” petty arguments while being held hostage, and pissing contests among the core trio. Despite decent performances all around, the script renders each character as little more than a short list of comedic personality traits. Faye (Daniella Pineda) in particular lacks a lot of the cunning she displays in the anime, and instead exists for foul-mouthed reactions and awkward “quirky mess” punchlines.

The mix-and-match nature of the original’s many one-off episodes means Netflix’s adaptation eschews being a one-to-one remake, which is totally a fine decision and preferable to the deep nostalgia-mining it could have fallen prey to. But the rush to the finish line siphons any heart the show could have had, erasing all the pensive moments required to truly communicate these complex characters. The unfortunate truth is Cowboy Bebop’s failings will be blamed on a market unwilling to compromise—it’s already happening with easy scapegoats like John Cho’s age or Daniella Pineda’s costume. The original Cowboy Bebop was conceived as a way to communicate the spirit of jazz, which is replicated here in a cursory way through debates on jazz history and some interesting cutaways (some have a vaguely Verhoeven feel). But Netflix’s show seems to forget that jazz needs time to breathe, to build, if it’s to have all the bombastic crescendos it’s so beloved for. —Austin Jones


8. Elves

Year: 2021
Creator: Stefan Jaworski
Stars: Sonje Sofie Engberg Steen, Milo Campanale, Vivelill Søgaard Holm
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: TV-14

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Not every Netflix Christmas show is filled with holiday cheer. The titular elves in this Danish teen horror fantasy are more of the Gremlins-after-a-midnight-snack variety than cute singing toymakers. A family Christmas vacation on the island of Årmandsø turns into an unfolding mystery of the creatures lurking in the forest.


9. A Boy Called Christmas

Year: 2021
Director: Gil Kenan
Stars: Henry Lawfull, Toby Jones, Sally Hawkins, Kristen Wiig, Jim Broadbent, Maggie Smith
Genre: Kids, Fantasy
Rating: PG

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This Santa origin story features Nikolas looking for his father in a magic land filled with elves—and other magical creatures. Based on the book of the same name by Matt Haig, the movie was filmed in Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and the UK and was released Nov. 24 on Netflix.


10. School of Chocolate

Year: 2021
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-PG

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The new docuseries School of Chocolate features eight contestants trying to impress their mentor, French chocolatier Amaury Guichon, with their delicious creations.