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 low-budget thrillers to blockbusters, animated kids movies to docu-series of every stripe. Here are the entries for July 7 of the most popular TV shows and movies on Netflix.

A recently canceled NBC series tops the list.

1. Manifest

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Years: 2018-2021

Creator: Jeff Rake

Stars: Athena Karkanis, Parveen Kaur, Joshua Dallas

Genre: Mystery, Supernatural

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

Rating: TV-14

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Yes, this NBC drama does have the “I liked this show the first time around when it was called Lost” vibe. The passengers of Montego Air Flight 828 (you can find Montego Air in the Oceanic Air terminal) think they were on a regular flight. The only problem is, when their plane lands, it’s five and a half years later. All their family and friends assumed they died and have moved on with their lives. For the networks to truly thrive in this day and age, they need to come up with appointment TV. Shows that permeate the cultural conversation and have viewers talking over the proverbial water cooler. NBC has that in This Is Us , a TV series that had people giving their crock-pots the side-eye. Manifest, which stars Josh Dallas of Once Upon a Time, looks like it could create the buzz broadcast TV so desperately needs.—Amy Amatangelo


2. Sex/Life

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Year: 2021

Creator: Stacy Rukeyser

Stars: Sarah Shahi, Mike Vogel, Adam Demos

Genre: Drama

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 43%

Rating: TV-MA

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Netflix’s Sex/Life uses its title as a bludgeon—what you see is what you exactly get on screen. Explicitness abounds. However, the friction that Sex/Life chases more often turns into a rub. As it turns out, both good sex and a good life can bloom when fed full-throated fantasy. But for Sex/Life, its soapy sexuality washes away its potential potency. The premise of Sex/Life doesn’t stray from stereotypes. The lead, Billie Connelly (Sarah Shahi), stares down a life of monotony while possessing all of the world’s markers of success and comfort: the wealthy and attractive husband (Mike Vogel) with a heart of gold; two beautiful children; a mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut. Her days consist of wandering around her large home in stylish nap dresses, exhausted by child-rearing—albeit with much help from her nanny—wondering who she’s become. Flashbacks, mediated through overwrought voiceovers of her journaling, work to place the audience back into her Manhattan wild child yesteryears. Temptation, expectation, and frustration braid together the tapestry of Billie’s current sex life, and (if she’s being honest with herself) it’s the same as the toxic past she fantasizes about with exes. In particular, her longing for one incubus of an ex, Adam Demos (Brad Simon), looms as her end-all-be-all. The show’s main point of tension is waiting for Billie’s breaking point: a decision to stand by her current life or shatter it to pieces for a second chance at passion. In truth, Sex/Life doesn’t attempt to push the boundaries within its soap opera genre. It fulfills its duties as a bodice-ripper of show, pedalling lifestyle porn that still fails to satisfy Billie, but hopes to arouse its viewers with jealousy. —Katherine Smith


3. Too Hot to Handle

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Year: 2020-21

Creators: Charlie Bennett, Laura Gibson

Genre: Reality

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 37%

Rating: TV-MA

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Celibacy Island? Basically, you win if you don’t have any sexual contact for four weeks. I’m so confused.


4. Mother’s Day

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Year: 2016

Director: Garry Marshall

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Shay Mitchell, Timothy Olyphant, Hector Elizondo, Kate Hudson, Sarah Chalke, Cameron Esposito, Jack Whitehall, Aasif Mandvi, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Garner, Lucy Walsh, Jon Lovitz

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 8%

Rating: PG

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Made up of four separate but interlocking storylines, Mother’s Day can barely tangentially relate its pieces, lodging together four stories united by bad taste, pushy sentiments and a willingness to leave actual narrative progression to Mad Libs rather than to the creativity of its three credited screenwriters. The most egregious by far, and the segment that will receive the most post-release condemnation, strands Kate Hudson, Sarah Chalke, Cameron Esposito, Aasif Mandvi and Margo Martindale in a more socially stunted context than Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. As sisters who moved to Georgia from Texas, Gabi (Chalke) and Jesse (Hudson) have long kept their personal lives—their respective relationships with a woman and Indian man—secret from their parents to avoid their bigoted barbs. Mother’s Day’s identity politics involving anyone who’s not a straight WASP are the nuanced equivalent of “I have a gay/black/Indian friend,” allowing both a parade of stomach churning gags and a “genuine” interest in resolving those deep-seated issues with a bow and a belly laugh. What qualifies as a joke in Mother’s Day are characters yelling cliches or racist things at each other. The other storylines are less actively terrible than just distressingly familiar. Jennifer Aniston is forced into her usual Sisyphean Hollywood role, trading her recent number of nymphomaniac performances for a doting mother worried about losing her two boys to forces beyond her control. Elsewhere, there’s barmaid Kristin (Britt Robertson) and struggling comic Zack (Fresh Meat’s Jack Whitehall), a late-20s couple nursing a new baby and fighting over Kristin’s cold feet about marriage (caused by internalized adoption issues). Miranda (Julia Robert), a Joy Mangano-style magnate is nothing more than a presence that hovers over the stink, delivering her lines with her patented soothing cool, a wig and animatronic body language that suggest she’s either auditioning for a Run Lola Run sequel or the next Terminator. For being nearly two hours, Mother’s Day, spends every waking second on “plot,” and yet feels terribly meandering. —Michael Snydel


5. Fear Street Part 1: 1994

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Year: 2021

Director: Leigh Janiak

Stars: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger, Maya Hawke

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%

Rating: R

The first film in Netflix’s trilogy of R.L. Stine Fear Street adaptations quickly announces itself as a far more vicious and bloody beast than any of the family friendly Goosebumps installments of recent years, successfully carving out its own place in the modern meta-slasher canon while hinting at an exciting conclusion to come. 1994 garbs itself in slasher history, being particularly referential of Scream while also including numerous allusions to much more obscure ’80s slashers such as Intruder, but it simultaneously (and cleverly) distracts the audience from some of its deeper mysteries, to be explored more fully in Fear Street: 1978 and Fear Street: 1666. What we’re left with is a film that lays its mythology out nicely, buoyed both by engaging supporting characters and cinematic violence that is significantly more grisly than audiences are likely to expect. Suffice to say, the kills of Fear Street aren’t messing around, and once that bread slicer makes an appearance, your jaw is likely to drop. —Jim Vorel


6. Cocomelon

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Years: 2020

Genre: Kids, Animation

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 50%

Rating: TV-Y

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The massively popular YouTube channel is now a Netflix show, sure to worm its way into the brains of kids and parents everywhere. The 3D animated nursery and kids songs have already been streamed billions of times online.


7. The Bureau of Magical Things

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Years: 2018-

Creator: Jonathan M. Shiff

Stars: Kimie Tsukakoshi, Elizabeth Cullen, Mia Milnes, Julian Cullen, Rainbow Wedell, Jamie Carter, Christopher Sommers

Genre: Fantasy, Comedy

Rating: TV-G

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Originally airing in Australia, then on Nickelodeon in the U.S., this fantasy series stars Kimie Tsukakoshi as Kyra, a teenage girl who is magically transformed into a tri-ling—part human, part fairy and part elf. She must navigate her own world and the magical one, fighting an evil threat to both realms.


8. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

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Year: 2001

Director: Adam McKay

Stars: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Gary Cole, Michael Clarke Duncan, Leslie Bibb, Jane Lynch, Amy Adams

Genre: Comedy

Rating: R

Runtime: 108 minutes

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Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly go together like reconciliation and getting thrown out of Applebee’s. In one of the finest films directed by Adam McKay, the duo play race-car drivers in a loving send-up of NASCAR culture. Sacha Baron Cohen is perfect as Ferrell’s European foil Jean Girard, and the film is jam-packed with both sight gags (the live cougar in the race car) and brilliant dialogue (the prayer to eight-pound-six-ounce-newborn-infant Jesus). His sons Walker and Texas Ranger, the random appearance of Elvis Costello and Mos Def in Girard’s back yard, and Amy Adams recreating the Whitesnake video in the bar all provide Hall of Fame moments from the Judd Apatow canon.—Josh Jackson


9. Kung Fu Panda

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Year: 2008

Director: John Stevenson, Mark Osborne

Stars: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Randall Duk Kim, James Hong, Dan Fogler, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jackie Chan

Genre: Action, Comedy

Rating: PG

Runtime: 92 minutes

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Kung Fu Panda isn’t just a good movie—it’s a good kung fu movie. The title isn’t pandering, because the film truly respects its source material. Jack Black’s character may as well be Sammo Hung or Jackie Chan in one of his early roles. All of the classical elements are there—an obnoxious pupil who becomes a fighting machine. A team of (literally) animal-based martial artists with varying styles. An unbeatable, rampaging villain in the vein of the Ghost-Faced Killer from Mystery of Chessboxing. And a secret technique that the hero needs to learn in order to conquer that villain. It’s a funny, vibrant film as easily enjoyed by children as adults, and one that the adult viewers should feel no embarrassment for enjoying as much as they do. If you like classical martial arts filmmaking, Kung Fu Panda is probably the most faithful animated twist on the genre that anyone has pulled off so far. Too bad the same can’t be said of its overblown sequels. —Jim Vorel


10. The Ice Road

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Year: 2021

Director: Jonathan Hensleigh

Starring: Liam Neeson, Laurence Fishburne, Benjamin Walker, Amber Midthunder

Genre: Action, Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 45%

Rating: PG-13

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How many Ice Roads must a man slip and slide down before you can call him a man? If that man is Liam Neeson or Laurence Fishburne, the answer looks like “one.” Continuing Neeson’s quest to star in an action movie about seemingly every kind of transportation, Netflix’s The Ice Road sees the Taken and Non-Stop star on a rescue mission, diving a truck across a dangerous frozen route towards some trapped miners. A ticking clock, a ridiculous premise that only looks to get more ridiculous when it’s revealed that all is not what it seems—hey, this is premium silly B-movie action and a perfect fit for Neeson’s latter-day efforts. Writer/director Jonathan Hensleigh did the Thomas Jane Punisher movie and wrote Armageddon, so it seems that he too is squarely in his wheelhouse. —Jacob Oller


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