Last year, Netflix solidified its status as a leader in streaming entertainment with several breakthrough original series that topped its viewership charts. A diverse mix of genres, from teen dramedies to fantasy mysteries, drew in massive audiences. While stalwarts like Stranger Things continued to perform well, a crop of fresh titles emerged to capture viewer attention.
This article will explore the five most-watched Netflix original series in the United States last year, based on total hours viewed in their first 28 days of release. Brief overviews will spotlight what made each show stand out and resonate with viewers. From coming-of-age stories to murder mysteries, these series kept subscribers glued to their screens and clamoring for more. Their popularity signals where Netflix is headed in its programming and the types of shows that are dominating the streaming landscape.
The Night Agent, based on the novel by Matthew Quirk, was one of the most watched shows on Netflix in 2022. This spy thriller stars Gabriel Basso as FBI agent Peter Sutherland who works in the White House manning the FBI tip line when he receives an urgent call from an unstable man claiming responsibility for the imminent assassination attempt on the president. As Peter races against the clock to uncover if this is a credible threat, he finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of government. One of the standout elements of The Night Agent is Gabriel Basso’s portrayal of Peter, showing his desperation and commitment as he risks his life and career to get to the truth and save the president.
The supporting cast includes Lucius Hoyos as Peter’s partner Agent Serrano and Jill Hennessy as FBI director Diane Noble. The Night Agent delivers plenty of shocking twists and turns as Peter peels back layers of secrets, lies, and hidden agendas. Viewers tuned in week after week to see if Peter would uncover the sinister plot in time and expose the powerful forces working against him. With its propulsive momentum, high stakes, and gripping performances, it’s no surprise The Night Agent was one of the most watched shows on Netflix last year. Fans were drawn in by the intensity of this conspiracy thriller and the race against time to protect the president and expose the truth.
Ginny & Georgia is a coming of age drama that premiered on Netflix in February 2021. The show centers around angsty teenager Ginny Miller (Antonia Gentry) and her young, free-spirited mother Georgia Miller (Brianne Howey) as they try to start a new life in a small New England town. Despite Georgia’s efforts to provide a normal life for Ginny, their tumultuous relationship, mysterious past, and Georgia’s criminal history threaten to upend their world. Ginny struggles to make sense of her mother as she starts to discover more about Georgia’s secrets. The show explores themes of family, identity, and the awkward transition into adulthood.
Ginny & Georgia was a major hit for Netflix, thanks in large part to its compelling mother-daughter dynamic and talented cast. Brianne Howey brings depth and complexity to Georgia, while Antonia Gentry’s performance as Ginny earned praise for its authenticity. Diesel La Torraca also stars as Ginny’s little brother Austin, with other supporting cast members including Jennifer Robertson, Felix Mallard, Sara Waisglass, and Scott Porter. Fans connected with the show’s raw portrayal of a fractured mother-daughter relationship, as Ginny struggles for independence amidst Georgia’s string of bad decisions. The show’s blend of comedy, drama and mystery made it a binge-worthy escape that resonated with viewers. Ginny & Georgia managed to be both lighthearted and moving, earning its popularity through nuanced storytelling brought to life by its charismatic leads.
Glory centered around the world of glory kickboxing and followed an ambitious young fighter named Glory Maines. The series starred Ellie Reed as Glory, Stephen Lovatt as her father and coach Robert Maines, and Ben Cross as the owner of the Glory promotion JR Clinkscales. The show followed Glory’s journey from amateur fighter to pro, depicting her struggles both inside and outside the ring. While Glory trained tirelessly to become the best, she also faced difficulties with her relationship with her father, a former champion turned obsessive coach living in the past.
Glory’s earnest desire to prove herself combined with the drama around her family and fellow fighters made the show a compelling underdog story. Viewers rooted for Glory as the rookie fighter taking on the best of the best. Reed’s emotional performance and the well-choreographed fight scenes were highlights of the series. The authentic look at the world of kickboxing also set Glory apart. With its mix of sports action and family drama, Glory emerged as one of the most popular shows on Netflix last year. The inspiring yet relatable lead character and flashy fights captured viewers’ attention, showcasing an intense sport that doesn’t often get the spotlight.
Wednesday is an American coming-of-age supernatural black comedy streaming television series created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar for Netflix. The show follows Wednesday Addams during her school years at Nevermore Academy and stars Jenna Ortega in the titular role. The series focuses on Wednesday attempting to master her emerging psychic ability, thwart a killing spree terrorizing the local town, and solve the supernatural mystery that embroiled her parents 25 years ago — all while navigating her new relationships at Nevermore. Other key characters include Gwendolyn Briggs (Gwendoline Christie), the principal of Nevermore Academy with a hidden agenda, Tyler Galpin (Hunter Doohan), a “normie” barista and love interest for Wednesday, and Enid Sinclair (Emma Myers), Wednesday’s vampire roommate and only friend at the academy.
With its macabre tone, pop culture references, and faithful adaptation of the beloved Addams Family character, Wednesday became an instant hit for Netflix. The show’s premiere made it the streamer’s third most-watched English language series within its first week. Much of its popularity stems from Jenna Ortega’s standout performance as the iconic Wednesday Addams, effortlessly portraying the character’s deadpan humor and morbid nature that fans know and love. Her now-viral interpretive dance scene solidified Ortega as a fan favorite. With its cliffhanger ending, viewers are eagerly awaiting what mysteries and mayhem Wednesday has in store for season 2.
Queen Charlotte was one of the most popular shows on Netflix last year. It is a historical drama that chronicles the rise of Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III. The show stars India Amarteifio as the young Queen Charlotte, along with other cast members like Golda Rosheuvel, Adjoa Andoh, and Ruth Gemmell. It provides a fictional backstory about Charlotte’s life before marrying into the royal family. Queen Charlotte was born in Germany and travels to England to wed the future King of England. The show depicts Charlotte’s challenges navigating royal politics, the palace dynamics with the royals and staff, and her role as an outsider.
Viewers loved the stunning visuals and production design that brought 18th century London to life. The show also features a diverse cast and puts a modern spin on a historical tale. The powerful acting performances, particularly by lead actress India Amarteifio, were also highlights. Queen Charlotte provides a unique perspective on the story of a young queen finding her voice and power. The show was praised for bringing an unknown story about Queen Charlotte to light in an entertaining way. With its palace intrigue, royal glamour, and insightful drama, Queen Charlotte captivated audiences on Netflix in 2022.
2023 was an exciting year for Netflix original programming, with several new shows emerging as the most watched series on the platform. As we’ve covered, the top 5 Netflix originals by viewership last year were The Night Agent, Ginny & Georgia, Glory, Wednesday, and Queen Charlotte. These shows resonated with audiences for a variety of reasons. The Night Agent brought high-stakes political drama, while Ginny & Georgia offered a mother-daughter coming of age story. Glory provided inspirational sports action, Wednesday appealed to fans of the Addams Family franchise, and Queen Charlotte explored the early years of a popular Bridgerton character.
While they spanned different genres from drama to comedy, all of the top shows shared strong writing, acting, and production values. Netflix has demonstrated a knack for identifying original concepts that draw in subscribers. The streaming service will likely continue leading the way with buzzworthy new releases that rank among the most watched series. 2023 marked a strong year for Netflix originals, and fans are eager to see what fresh shows will rise to popularity in 2023 and beyond. As long as Netflix keeps taking creative risks and producing compelling content, it should have no shortage of widely viewed, critically acclaimed hits on the horizon.