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The 2021 Netflix series Maid is skyrocketing back up the charts, and TikTok is the reason why

Published May 31st, 2023 12:21AM EDT
Maid on Netflix
Image: Ricardo Hubbs/Netflix

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Netflix cranks out so much material on a weekly basis that it can sometimes feel barely possible to keep up with the endless new releases, let alone watch all the good stuff with the finite amount of free time you have. One result is that many fine movies and shows — like the limited series Maid, starring Margaret Qualley, which debuted to a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score in 2021 — come and go from the streamer pretty quickly. Today’s hits are tomorrow’s memories, and sometimes they disappear so comprehensively they barely even qualify as memories.

The 10-episode Maid, inspired by Stephanie Land’s New York Times bestselling memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, And A Mother’s Will To Survive, definitely seemed to fare better than many such titles when it first debuted. It was well-regarded and got a decent amount of attention. The series follows the story of “Alex,” played by Qualley. She’s “a single mother who turns to house-cleaning to — barely — make ends meet as she escapes an abusive relationship and overcomes homelessness to create a better life for her daughter, Maddy,” the official Netflix synopsis explains. This series, it continues, “is a raw and inspiring exploration of a mother’s resilience.” The source material is powerful enough that President Obama in 2019 even put it on the summer reading list he releases every year.

Maid on Netflix
Margaret Qualley stars as Alex in the Netflix limited series “Maid.” Image source: Ricardo Hubbs/Netflix

Maid features the kind of gut-wrenching, powerful storytelling that makes viewers cry their eyes out — which is to say, not the kind of release you’d necessarily expect to enjoy a second life or an after-the-fact surge in popularity on the streamer. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what’s happening right now for the series, which is skyrocketing up the US and global charts nearly two years after its initial release. And it’s all thanks to TikTok.

Clips from Maid have been going viral on TikTok for days now, with some pretty big accounts sharing them and racking up millions of views — thus ensuring that the TikTok algorithm works its magic and keeps showing them to more and more TikTok users.

And here’s the most interesting part about Maid’s resurgence on TikTok: It hasn’t, well, stayed just on TikTok. The #9 Netflix series in the US, as I type these words? It’s Maid — again, almost two years after the fact (just behind Selling Sunset, which has a new batch of episodes that’s just come out).

Every Tuesday, Netflix also updates its list of the biggest shows and movies worldwide — and, yep, Maid has also returned to the global Top 10 TV chart, as well. Even Netflix itself has acknowledged the show’s remarkable return to the global chart, and credited TikTok for the revival of interest:

It was Netflix’s July 2020 quarterly shareholder letter that mentioned TikTok as a competitive threat for the first time, given how much user attention the social media app had started to command, at the expense of that same user attention going to Netflix. That letter also shared perhaps grudging admiration for the app, acknowledging that “TikTok’s growth is astounding, showing the fluidity of internet entertainment.”

What a strange and curious rival TikTok has become for an entertainment titan like Netflix, which both benefits from and competes with the app that continues to reshape entertainment in profound and lasting ways.

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.