Flixpatrol – a company that tracks the standings of films and television shows on Netflix’s “Top 10” chart in various countries – compiled its list of the most popular Netflix originals for 2020.
Placements were decided by assigning “points” to a show based on where it fell on the Netflix “Top 10” chart for each day in its first 28 days of release. Points ranged from 10 for first place to one point for tenth place. Titles released prior to 2020 were excluded.
- “The Haunting of Bly Manor” – 236 points
“The Haunting of Bly Manor” – the second entry in Netflix’s “The Haunting” anthology series (following 2018’s “The Haunting of Hill House”) and an adaptation of Henry James’ 1898 novella “The Turn of the Screw” – became a huge hit for Netflix when it debuted on Oct. 9. Though it featured many of the same cast and crew members from “Hill House,” the two shows were not explicitly connected in any way. Still, the familiar title and the similarly high-quality entertainment (with this follow-up earning an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes) encouraged audiences to check it out anyway, with many coming away both pleased and petrified.
- “Outer Banks” – 259 points
This teen mystery melodrama premiered on April 15, receiving perfunctory passes from most critics but outright adoration from younger audiences, who powered it to a top position on Netflix’s “Top 10” week after week. Thanks to its thrilling twists and turns, positive word of mouth continued to spread, and over time, “Outer Banks” achieved enough success with the streaming service’s subscriber base that it was renewed for a second season in July 2020.
- “The Umbrella Academy” – 261 points
When Season 2 of “The Umbrella Academy” debuted on July 31, reviews were far stronger this time around (garnering a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes compared to the first season’s 75%), and it seemed that fans responded with equally rapturous praise, with data firm Parrot Analysis stating that it was the “most in-demand original streaming series in the US” throughout the month of August. This sci-fi superhero saga was such a sensation that Netflix promptly ordered a third season for production in November 2020.
- “The Queen’s Gambit” – 270 points
“The Queen’s Gambit” was arguably the most unexpected hit of Netflix’s output in 2020, telling the story of child prodigy Beth Harmon, an orphan who competes to become the top player in the chess world while simultaneously struggling with her drug and alcohol dependency. The ardently acclaimed miniseries earned a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes (with particular praise for lead Anya Taylor-Joy) and even led to a sharp increase in interest in the game of chess itself, with Chess.com reporting several million new users since the show’s release.
- “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” – 272 points
Premiering on March 20, “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” became the first breakout streaming success of the COVID-19 pandemic, capitalizing on a country that was clamoring for content after nationwide lockdowns were announced in mid-March. The docuseries captured the chaotic conflict between zookeeper Joe Exotic and big cat conservationist Carole Baskin, offering more shocking revelations than the latest suspense thriller. After catching the eye of many in the entertainment industry, multiple limited series were put into development, with one starring comedian Kate McKinnon as Baskin and other featuring actor Nicolas Cage as Exotic.