Netflix reality show Physical: 100 just skyrocketed up the Top 10 list — stream or skip?

Two contestants on Physical: 100 running
(Image credit: Netflix)

The Netflix Top 10 lists often surprise, and today is one of those days. Physical: 100, a Korean series that we've seen promoted in Netflix's app, just took a massive leap from the bottom to the top of the TV series chart.

Once stuck in the bottom of the list (ranking tracker FlixPatrol had it between No. 8 and 9 for the last five days), Physical: 100 just hit No. 2 on the Netflix Top 10 Shows in the U.S. chart at the time of publishing. This could be due to Physical's weekly release schedule, which helps build interest over time.

This competition-based reality series, which finds who has the best physique out of 100 men and women — who are competing against each other — has finally found an interested audience in the U.S. We're certainly intrigued, and are considering it as a potential for our best Netflix shows roundup.

But none of that says that you should watch Physical: 100 tonight, does it? So, let's break down everything you need to know.

What is Netflix's Physical: 100?

If you wanted a reality TV show that was like Squid Game, but definitely wasn't Squid Game, you might get Physical: 100. This nine-episode unscripted competition series has been releasing weekly on Netflix on Tuesdays, with two more episodes set to drop on Valentine's Day, and the finale on February 21st.

The '100' in the show's title refers to the number of physically-yoked competitors who arrive at this South Korean TV show to discover who has the best body. While some competitions require more strategy, physical supremacy is key when it comes to hanging on above a giant pool, racing and grappling.

The competitors, warring for 300 Million Won (around $240k), come from many different walks of life. So, you've got models and bodybuilders, Olympic gold medalists, rappers, professional fighters, YouTubers, a K-Pop dancer and many more. 

Oh, and once a competitor is eliminated, they must shatter the bust that represents their physique. All throughout, an overly dramatic narrator lays on the drama thick.

Yes, this is camp as heck.

Physical: 100 reviews: What critics say

The reviews for Physical: 100, as positive as they are — are few and far between. This isn't surprising, though, as competition-based reality TV, especially when it comes to non-English language shows doesn't draw in the critical mass. Especially in its first season. This is why Rotten Tomatoes doesn't even have a score for Physical: 100 yet.

Romey Norton at Ready Steady Cut writes that "if you’re into reality game shows and into fitness, this series will entertain and impress you. It’s an easy watch, which I can see having more seasons, as there are always going to be contestants training to be in the Physical:100. As each episode has a new challenge, I was hooked into watching to see what would happen next and who would eventually win. "

A contestant on Physical: 100 is resting his arms against a rope

(Image credit: Netflix)

Kate Sánchez of But Why Tho? commends Physical: 100 for shattering the gender barrier, writing "I mean, what other show can you watch a woman come out in the top three of a physical test with the strongest men in her country? The removal of the barrier has also already started to reveal assumptions that male contestants have about their female peers and ultimately show how little faith they have in themselves against other men. We’re only six episodes in, so this is bound to push the drama of the series even higher."

Andy Dehnart of Reality Blurred encourages audiences to listen to the original audio, stating "I started watching with English dubbing, and the actors’ inflection made most of cast’s comments and interaction with each other sound comedic or outright sarcastic: 'You have a great body' and 'Wow, your abs! Looks awesome' sounded mocking, not genuine. All of it had the same intonation. I turned off the dubbing, and it immediately improved."

We can confirm that the original audio gives you a less cartoonish feel.

Outlook: Should you watch Physical: 100 on Netflix?

Physical: 100 is the kind of show that should truly appeal to reality TV show lovers and fitness obsessives. If you enjoy nuance, change the language to the original Korean instead of the English.

That said, you probably won't love Physical: 100 if you go into it looking for a Squid Game replacement that's more about strategy than athleticism.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.