Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Why Netflix’s 3 Body Problem is a hit among conservatives in the US

Published Mar 24th, 2024 8:42PM EDT
3 Body Problem on Netflix
Image: Netflix

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

For all the expectations I had about Netflix’s sci-fi epic 3 Body Problem, here’s something I didn’t expect to see once the long-awaited alien invasion series from the Game of Thrones showrunners debuted on the streaming giant: Conservatives, of all people, have rallied around it, specifically finding in its violent opening scene a warning about cancel culture.

Netflix’s star-studded eight-episode adaptation of the award-winning sci-fi novel of the same name by Liu Cixin is currently the #2 most-watched series in the US. The story, which jumps back and forth across time, spans China, Europe, and the US, and it’s largely focused on how humanity begins to plan for an alien invasion.

The opening sequence, clips of which have been all over I guess what you’d call conservative X/Twitter, takes place in 1966 during a so-called “struggle session” at a Beijing university during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. It depicts a physics professor, on his knees and cowering before an angry mob, as he’s taunted and eventually beaten to death for refusing to renounce ideas that are regarded as too Western, like Einstein’s theory of relativity.

3 Body Problem on NetflixImage source: Ed Miller/Netflix

“We cannot allow history to repeat itself in America,” reads a tweet from the user @GeekpreneurNYC that includes a clip of the opening 3 Body Problem scene. “This scene from the #3BodyProblem series on Netflix captures the chilling era of The Cultural Revolution, a time when Communists seized control in China. Let’s learn from the past. #historymatters #communismkills.”

That tweet has been viewed almost 600,000 times as of this writing. Among other reactions to that opening scene, which is a very foundational moment in the story and sets the professor’s daughter down a consequential path:

  • From X user @newodec: “To understand what the left is doing, I suggest watching the opening of the Netflix series 3 Body Problem. The scene of the Cultural revolution demonstrates what is taking place. Learn history or be doomed”
  • From X user @ChrissySense: “Just watched the opening scene of Netflix’s 3 Body Problem depicting a Chinese cultural revolution lynching, and it is scarily reminiscent of where Woke is taking us: no freedom of speech or thought, toe the party line or be eliminated, don’t even think of counter-revolution”
  • and, from X user @rayfandango: “The opening scene depicts our current ant-human cult perfectly”

All that said, there is a sort of irony here; the deeper you get into the series, it becomes impossible to see the show through that kind of anti-collectivist lens. Without spoiling too much of it, there’s more of a live together, die alone kind of philosophy at the heart of this story, which involves an alien race whose technology is far superior to ours deciding to come to Earth to conquer it. Some humans want to resist. Others basically say to hell with it; we’ve screwed the planet, and we’ve committed the worst atrocities against other humans, the aliens can only improve the planet at this point.

Honestly, the show very much feels like an elaborate allegory about climate change, something I don’t suppose those conservative X users would be big fans of.

“This isn’t a commentary on cancel culture,” co-showrunner David Benioff told The Hollywood Reporter about 3 Body Problem. “But we do tend to move in cycles in terms of human history, and we’re going through a certain period of the cycle right now.

“There are many very significant differences between the current time and the Cultural Revolution. But there are also some similarities. It was never something where we were like, ‘We should do this show because we want to make a commentary on that.’ But it is interesting that the parallels are there and are hard to ignore.”

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.