The most watched Netflix show of 2019 has just been announced

It's probably not what you expected.

by Douglas Greenwood
03 January 2020, 2:47pm

This article originally appeared on VICE UK

So that’s it. The year 2019 is over! It was sort of a hellscape (Brexit, the climate disaster claiming the Amazon, right-wing prime ministers and presidents aplenty) with brief little pinpricks of good things scattered amongst it (Greta Thunberg, some quite great films, Lana Del Rey releasing another smash with Norman F*cking Rockwell). All in all, we have plenty to reflect upon.

But we also have to formally address just how much time most of us spent glued to our devices, obsessively bingeing TV shows on Netflix. To help, the streaming service have just read us for filth by releasing the ten Netflix Original productions that occupied UK viewers’ time the most. Some we expected, others are curveball inclusions.

Despite being released just 11 days before the end of 2019, it was The Witcher that wound up being the most streamed show of the entire year. It’s a figure that seems a bit barmy until you consider a) the hugely successful book and video game series that preceded it, and b) the fact that none of us seemed to leave the house for the entirety of the festive period. Pair that with the massive marketing campaign that went alongside it and the dangerous lure of Henry Cavill’s jawline, and Netflix had a hit on their hands from the beginning.

The rest of the top 10 is a mish-mash of some of the most talked about shows of the past 12 months. Ricky Gervais’s black comedy After Life nabbed the second spot, Stranger Things’s hotly anticipated third series came in third, the gawky and excellent Sex Education came in fourth, while the Gerard Way superhero series The Umbrella Academy rounded up the top five.

Everybody’s current obsession You hit number six, acclaimed court drama series Unbelievable number seven, while the Brit phenomenon Top Boy was the eighth most watched show on the streaming service. It seems like Drake’s influence and the show’s pre-existing cult shot it into the top 10. The remaining two? Black Mirror continued to ride high, edging into the top ten just in front of the true crime drama Dirty John. It seems our taste for the moody, morally corrupt, gritty and sexy was fully satisfied in 2019, but there are a few strange omissions from the list.

Like, where on earth is The Crown? The third season of the hit show about the British Royals landed in November, and it felt like everybody on earth was watching it. We felt the same about David Fincher’s articulate and excellent Mindhunter, which is nowhere to be seen either!

The UK and US list of Original TV shows has plenty of crossover: Stranger Things was the most watched programme in the US with The Witcher a close second. Meanwhile, the likes of When They See Us, Dead to Me and the ever-deranged 13 Reasons Why found their audiences in America too. The full list was published by Variety over here.

When you factor in movies and documentaries, the list shifts slightly. The Witcher drops to fourth place, replaced by a trio of Netflix Originals that UK and Irish viewers obsessed over: the mini-series The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, Michael Bay’s thriller 6 Underground and the Adam Sandler comedy Murder Mystery become the new top three. The very long mob drama The Irishman comes in fifth place, and David Attenborough’s fawned over nature series Our Planet reaches number nine.

The US list looks much the same with a little shimmying, only The Incredibles 2 -- the only film to break through into these lists internationally not to made by Netflix -- got some serious love from the American crowd.

Still, the exclusion of some shows we thought to be big hitters raises interesting questions about the online hype machine and how streaming services have fully permeated the mainstream, shaping the wider world’s viewing habits -- including our parents and grandparents -- who no longer feel tied to terrestrial television. All in all, it seems like most of us seem to have impeccable taste in the Netflix shows we consume. So what might be the runaway hit show of 2020? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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