Welcome to our guide of the most popular new releases on Netflix, a full breakdown of the biggest shows, based on who’s watching what.
This week, Mike Flanagan’s (Doctor Sleep, Gerald’s Game) horror-thriller miniseries Midnight Mass ascends to the No. 2 spot of Netflix’s top 10 list after premiering on the service last Friday. The series follows the inhabitants of a small, desolate fishing community, who find themselves under the sway of a mysterious priest harboring a dark secret. Midnight Mass has received some glowing reviews so far, and we’re pretty fond of it ourselves. Meanwhile, the South Korean survival horror-thriller series Squid Game continues to hold strong at No. 1 this week, with Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos saying Monday during Vox Media’s 2021 Code Conference that the series’ success caught the service by surprise and that it’s currently on track to become Netflix’s biggest show ever. (Vox Media is Polygon’s parent company.)
In addition, there are tons of other new shows and movies in this week’s top 10, including the 2010 comedy Grown Ups staring Adam Sandler, the animated children’s feature My Little Pony: A New Generation, and the true crime docuseries Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan.
To help you navigate the vast swath of Netflix offerings, we’ve gathered our reviews, features, and quick takes on the shows and films that have cracked the top 10 list for the United States, and put them in one easy-to-read place. Read on to find out what people are watching, and see our coverage to help you choose which of Netflix’s most popular hits meet your needs or personal tastes.
Polygon updates the Netflix top 10 each Tuesday. The actual top 10 is subject to change between updates.
Netflix’s biggest new releases
Social media: It’s scary. But what if it were really scary? Tony Ayres and Christian White’s limited-series drama thriller Clickbait stars Entourage’s Adrian Grenier as Nick Brewer, a devoted family man who inexplicably disappears. Days later, Nick reappears in an online video, bloodied and holding a card that says, “I abuse women. At 5 million views, I die.” As Nick’s wife Sophie (Betty Gabriel) and sister Pia (Zoe Kazan) do everything in their power to bring Nick home, they weather the firestorm of media inquiry as old secrets regarding Nick’s past are slowly unearthed. The series debuted on Netflix over a month ago and continues to hold strong on the top 10.
9. Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan
From movies like Split, Identity, and Fight Club, there’s no shortage of thrillers and horror stories centered on characters suffering from dissociative identity disorder. Monsters Inside, the latest true crime mini-documentary series from *checks notes* … Transporter 3 and Taken 2 director Olivier Megaton chronicles the real-life case of Billy Milligan, a man with a troubled past who in 1977 was accused of being a serial rapist and claimed to have no memory of his crimes. Megaton’s four-part documentary compiles footage of the trial, along with interviews with doctors, friends, law enforcement officials, and Milligan’s own family, to untangle the truth at the heart of this horrifying and extraordinary case.
Home invasion movies tap into a universal fear in audiences, homeowners or otherwise. After all, what’s more terrifying than your home, a place of relative safety, comfort, and familiarity, being encroached upon by a presence that’s anything but? Adam Salky’s psychological thriller Intrusion stars Freida Pinto (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus) as Meera and Henry, a married couple who move into an ultramodern home designed by Henry himself in a quiet little town. Following a thwarted home invasion, Meera begins to suspect that her husband is hiding something, and attempts to uncover the secrets hidden in their home as well as the identities of the burglars plotting to break in. The film debuted on Netflix last Wednesday, which explains why it’s on this week’s top 10.
Nothing will ever defeat Cocomelon. The sun will go supernova before Cocomelon is done. Bow to Cocomelon.
If your kid has to watch something (or possibly you’re tuning in yourself? No judgment here!), the animated-nursery-rhymes-and-songs-YouTube-channel-turned-Netflix-animated-series is one of the most popular children’s shows on the service this week. It’s amazing — it’s been on the list since last fall and only fell off once, and shows no signs of going away … ever!
6. Sex Education
Netflix’s British teen comedy-drama Sex Education was a hit when it premiered in 2019, following Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield), the son of a divorced sex therapist (Gillian Anderson), and a cast of supporting characters as they navigate their own personal dramas related in one way or another to sexual intimacy. Season 3, which premiered on Netflix last Friday, finds Otis exploring his budding sexuality with a new baby sibling on the way. When a new headteacher comes to Moordale Secondary with a mission to clean up the school’s reputation, Otis and his peers are faced with choices that will force them to grow closer together and as people as they weather the challenges of young adulthood.
5. Grown Ups
Adam Sandler (Hubie Halloween, Uncut Gems) has long since mastered the art of making a career out of having a good time with his best friends. Case in point: the 2010 comedy Grown Ups, which stars Sandler alongside Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider as a group of childhood friends, now grown, who, facing their own individual midlife crises, attempt to rekindle their lost joy in life on a Fourth of July holiday weekend following the death of their middle school basketball couch. It’s the platonic ideal of a predictable and overall fine comedy — reasonably inoffensive, apart from some crass bodily humor — and one you can throw on in the background and get the gist of just from half-listening to it, which might explain why it’s on the Netflix top 10 this week.
4. My Little Pony: A New Generation
Look, I’m not gonna pretend I know anything about My Little Pony, but it’s enough of a cultural phenomenon that I’d be remiss as a professional culture writer to not at least treat it with a measure of respect. My Little Pony: A New Generation marks the fifth incarnation of the My Little Pony franchise — see, I didn’t even know there were “incarnations” of My Little Pony, let alone five of them — set many years after the events of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic series and following a new group of pony friends who embark on an epic quest to restore magic to the land of Equestria and reunite the tribes of ponykind as a whole. It’s got Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical), Kimiko Glenn (Orange Is the New Black), and James Marsden (Westworld) in it — doesn’t that sound fun? No? OK, well, it was released on Netflix last Friday rather than in theaters due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which explains why it’s on this week’s Netflix top 10.
3. The Starling
Academy Award nominee Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd (The IT Crowd) star in Theodore Melfi’s comedy-drama The Starling as Lilly and Jack Maynard, a couple eagerly anticipating the birth of their first child. When the pair suffer a difficult tragedy, Jack checks himself into a mental hospital to sort through his trauma, while Lilly attempts to deal with her own depression and feelings of guilt. To make matters worse, Lilly is harassed by a lone starling who begins building a nest in her backyard. Turning to Larry (Kevin Kline), a psychologist-turned-veterinarian with a troubled past, for help, Lilly eventually fosters a relationship caring for the starling, one that eventually affords her the strength to attempt repairing her relationship with Jack and building a future in the wake of tragedy. The trailer looks wholesome and upbeat, with McCarthy emphasizing more of her range as a dramatic actor, all while nodding to her past comedic roles, which have made her a household name.
2. Midnight Mass
Midnight Mass, Mike Flanagan’s long-gestating follow-up to 2018’s The Haunting of Hill House and 2020’s The Haunting of Bly House, is a supernatural mystery-thriller that centers on the denizens of Crockett Island, an isolated fishing town on the brink of collapse whose long-simmering animosities are exposed and inflamed by the mysterious arrival of a charismatic priest with a dark secret. From our review:
Midnight Mass feels like Flanagan’s most challenging work so far, both for him and for his audience. The show has been in the works for a decade, and it’s an intensely personal story for Flanagan. That’s hardly new for him — Hill House and Doctor Sleep deftly explored addiction and recovery through the lens of horror. And Flanagan has spoken about his journey with sobriety and how it shaped Midnight Mass extensively. That vibrantly personal exploration — Flanagan worked on the scripts for all seven episodes, including the four co-written with his brother James — is what makes the show so feel so potent and alive, but also what presents some of its hardest-to-parse moments.
1. Squid Game
The South Korean survival drama Squid Game soared to the top spot of the Netflix top 10 this week following its premiere earlier this month, and it’s easy to understand why. The show’s premise resembles a nightmarish Technicolor mashup of Battle Royale and Big Brother, following the stories of seven people who, along with 449 other perfect strangers, are abducted and subjected to a strange series of challenges that resemble schoolyard games like Red Light, Green Light and tug of war in a contest to win $38.5 million. You can probably guess the catch off the top of your head: If any of the participants lose any of the challenges, they’re swiftly executed. The series is as bizarre and hyperviolent as it sounds, and Netflix says it’s currently on track to become the service’s most watched series of all time.