Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

I don’t think Netflix’s 3 Body Problem was supposed to get dethroned by a Biblical docudrama

Published Mar 28th, 2024 10:20PM EDT
3 Body Problem on Netflix
Image: Ed Miller/Netflix

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

I might be looking at the glass half-empty here, but given that Netflix’s 3 Body Problem set a record for the most expensive first season of TV ever for the streaming giant — and that it also comes from two celebrated TV creators, the former Game of Thrones showrunners, in addition to adapting one of the most celebrated sci-fi novels of all time — it probably ought to be doing better in the US instead of getting outperformed by a Biblical docudrama about the prophet Moses.

Unfortunately, that’s where things stand for the alien invasion series exactly one week after its much-anticipated Netflix debut. As of this writing, the show (which had briefly held the #1 spot in the US for a few days) has slipped back to #2, supplanted by Netflix’s new #1 series in the US at the moment — Testament: The Story of Moses.

This might not bode well for 3 Body Problem‘s season two prospects, which feel like they’re looking slimmer by the day.

The series — adapted by co-creators David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and Alexander Woo from Liu Cixin’s masterful trilogy of sci-fi novels — had all the makings of the TV event of the year for Netflix. The streamer spent $20 million an episode on the eight-episode first season, hosted an interactive 3 Body Problem experience at CES this year, gave the show its own podcast, and even promoted it via advertising on the exterior of the Las Vegas Sphere. The show didn’t suffer, in other words, from lack of awareness.

3 Body Problem on Netflix
John Bradley as Jack Rooney in “3 Body Problem.”

Internationalizing the story (the first book in the trilogy, The Three-Body Problem, is pretty China-centric) was supposed to help give the show a leg up on the biggest streamer in the world. Yet, here we are: A docuseries that retells bits from The Bible’s Old Testament by using both talking-head interviews and dramatic recreations is somehow outperforming what was assumed would be one of Netflix’s biggest shows of the year.

For now, I’m still reasonably hopeful about 3 Body Problem’s renewal prospects — for two reasons. The scores from both critics and viewers on Rotten Tomatoes aren’t bad, by any means; in fact, the viewer score has climbed steadily since the show’s release and now stands at a very respectable 82%. Next week, meanwhile, will provide another closely watched data point.

On a worldwide basis, 3 Body Problem is currently the #2 show globally on Netflix, behind Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen. Now, those two shows didn’t compete, per se, on an apples-to-apples basis. Netflix’s current global Top 10 list cut off on Sunday — and, given that 3 Body Problem only debuted last Thursday, that means it could only rack up four days of viewership on the latest list, compared to a full week for The Gentlemen. Next week, however, will mean the show has its first full week of viewership available to measure. Which is to say, not only should we expect to see the show’s viewership total rise, but this might be a chance for it to snatch the #1 spot.

Netflix, of course, also looks at other key factors when deciding whether to re-up a show. A show’s completion rate — that is, the number of viewers who makes it all the way through, as opposed to giving up after one or two episodes — is very important, as is the number of subscribers who made this the first show they watched after subscribing (the thinking being, this show is extra-valuable for bringing in new subscribers).

Bottom line: I’m not ready to write off 3 Body Problem’s Season 2 chances just yet.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.