It’s drawn comparisons to David Fincher’s 2014 psychological thriller Gone Girl, and it’s currently dominating Netflix — occupying the #1 spot this week on the streamer’s Top 10 chart of the biggest non-English-language series in the world. For the 7-day period that ended Sept. 10, Netflix’s Dear Child, based on the internationally bestselling novel of the same name, racked up 49.1 million raw hours viewed, captivating viewers with its portrait of damaged characters and the reopening of a 13-year-old missing persons case.
To put into context just how big this pulse-pounding Netflix series is right now, Dear Child‘s viewership means it would be #3 on the English-language global Top 10 this week — behind only One Piece and Virgin River Season 5. Not too shabby for a dark drama that I daresay many American viewers haven’t heard of, but which is a Top 10 Netflix series in 84 countries at the moment nonetheless.
Moreover, its success calls to mind other buzzy foreign-language thrillers that come out of nowhere and end up dominating Netflix, like the eight-episode Mexican drama Triptych about twin sisters separated at birth that was a huge hit earlier this year.
The story: As for what Dear Child is all about, the plot involves a mysterious woman’s escape from captivity, pointing investigators toward the truth about an unsolved disappearance more than a decade earlier. From the official synopsis of this six-part Netflix series based on the novel by Romy Hausman:
“Lena lives in complete isolation in a highly secured home with the two children Hannah and Jonathan. They eat their meals, go to the toilet and to bed at precisely prescribed times. As soon as he enters the room, they line up to show their hands. They do everything he says. Until the young woman manages to escape. After a near fatal car accident, she is hospitalized, accompanied by Hannah.
“Dear Child starts where traditional thrillers end: with redemption. But the true extent of this nightmare is revealed with the arrival of Lena’s parents at the hospital the same night.”
“I found the motif of the inner and outer prison particularly interesting,” co-producer Friederich Oetker said in an interview with Netflix about Dear Child. “Even if you manage to escape, you take your inner prison with you. You have to free yourself from it.”
Director and head writer Isabel Kleefeld told Netflix: “I read the book in one night and saw the whole story very vividly in my mind. The material fascinated me immediately. Dear Child is told from the point of view of each of the participants, and the perspective changes again and again. The result is an exciting game with reality, a puzzle that the audience can always add to and reassemble. It is the story of a crime that has many victims, directly or indirectly.”