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One of the biggest Netflix shows in the world right now is an Interstellar-style space thriller

Published Mar 14th, 2024 9:57PM EDT
The Signal on Netflix
Image: Anika Molnar/Netflix

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Some of the most gripping Netflix releases over the years have been shows that hail from Germany, examples of which include titles like Dark, The Billion Dollar Code, and Kleo (which, in point of fact, remains one of my all-time favorite spy series). We can now add to that list the newly released space thriller The Signal, a four-episode limited series about a scientist who’d been working aboard the International Space Station and whose plane disappears as she’s flying home.

The show, which has drawn comparison to beloved sci-fi titles like Interstellar, also happens to be one of the biggest Netflix shows in the world right now. Based on the latest weekly global Top 10 data from the streamer, The Signal pulled in 4.9 million views this week — making it the #2 most-watched non-English Netflix series.

It’s also worth noting that, at least for the moment, sci-fan fans seem to have quite a hunger for this kind of story wherein someone goes up to space and makes a frightening discovery that could change everything. That’s the exact same dynamic, for example, at the heart of Constellation, a newly released Apple TV+ thriller that’s currently the #1 show over there.

The Signal on Netflix
Peri Baumeister and Florian David Fitz in “The Signal.” Image source: Anika Molnar/Netflix

As for The Signal, directed by Sebastian Hilger and Philipp Leinemann, it’s about an ISS scientist and astronaut named Paula who’s returned to earth after parachuting into the atmosphere. A flight across the ocean is all that stands in the way of her reuniting with her family. The plane, however, never makes it, and her distraught husband Sven goes off in search of answers.

He comes to find out that his wife left him a riddle that could lead him straight to her. But it’s a puzzle within a puzzle that he doesn’t fully comprehend; furthermore, he slowly comes to realize that the clue his wife left him doesn’t only point to her whereabouts, but also to a looming disaster for mankind. That’s because, and here comes the Interstellar comparison, Paula learned something mind-blowing while she was up there — something that has potentially devastating consequences.

All in all, The Signal is a solid sci-fi drama that also gets special marks from me thanks to its relatively short length. Who has time for an endless number of new shows that all run for eight hours or more? One caveat I should offer, though, is that this show is proving to be a little divisive.

There are people (like me) who think it looks great and attempts something satisfyingly ambitious, but I nevertheless found the big ending reveal to be a little underwhelming, and that’s also the case with some of the viewers who’ve shared their thoughts in Rotten Tomatoes ratings. The reactions veer from satisfaction over the show being a bit out of the ordinary to disappointment that the series didn’t attempt something bigger with its revelation at the end (no spoilers, of course).

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.