These are the 5 most popular Netflix shows right now — should you stream or skip?

Chase Stokes, Madelyn Cline, Carlacia Grant in Outer Banks season 3
(Image credit: Netflix)

If you’re looking for something new to watch on Netflix, the streamer’s ranking of its most-watched TV shows is definitely a good place to start. Here you can see an ever-changing list of the shows that are grabbing the attention of your fellow Netflix subscribers — and you might just find a new favorite series in the process. 

Of course, a high ranking in the Netflix top 5 is certainly no guarantee of being one of the best Netflix shows. Plenty of mediocre, or downright disappointing, shows have made the list over the years. And that’s why we’re here to help answer the vital question of whether the shows currently in the Netflix top 5 are worth streaming or skipping. (Note, this article is based on the Netflix most-watched list as of Friday, February 24 at 6 a.m. ET.) 

Before we get into the list, just remember these judgments are subjective, and that’s why I’ve also included each show’s Rotten Tomatoes score for a more broad measurement of their overall quality. And with that disclaimer out of the way, let's dive into the list of the 5 most popular shows on Netflix right now. 

No. 1: Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal

Seasoned Netflix subscribers probably won’t be shocked to see a true crime documentary at the very top of the streamer’s most-watched list. Netflix has steadily built up its reputation as the home of docs based on grisly real-life events, and Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal is another exploration of humanity at its most depraved. 

This three-part limited series recounts a string of shocking tragedies that shatter a tight-knit South Carolina community. At the center of these horrifying crimes is the powerful Murdaugh family, and in particular, Alex Murdaugh who made national headlines after he was accused of multiple murders. What follows is a twisting tale that will keep you guessing throughout. 

At this point, the true crime genre is no stranger to Netflix viewers, so you probably already know if Murdaugh Murders is a show you’d enjoy. Genre fans will lap it up, but anybody suffering from true crime burnout can safely give this one a skip without fear of missing out.  

Our verdict: Stream it
Genre: True crime
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Stream it on Netflix

No. 2: Perfect Match

Netflix is investing heavily in reality TV with efforts such as Love is Blind, Too Hot to Handle and The Ultimatum all enjoying success with subscribers. The streamer’s latest offering for reality TV fanatics is Perfect Match, and it’s also managed to strike a chord with viewers as it's currently ranked at No. 3. 

Hosted by Nick Lachey, Perfect Match brings together familiar faces from across Netflix’s portfolio of reality TV shows and whisks them all to a gorgeous tropical paradise. From here the proceedings are fairly predictable. After a short getting-to-know-you session, couples are formed, and the ones judged to be the most compatible gain the ability to play matchmaker, allowing them to break up their fellow couples and send individuals on dates with freshly arrived castmates. 

Dedicated reality TV fans will be well experienced in sitting through junk, but when graded on a curve against its contemporaries, Perfect Match is far from the most egregious slice of reality escapism. But personally, I’d argue there are many other Netflix shows more deserving of your time than this vapid dating show. 

Our verdict: Skip it
Genre: Reality
Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Stream it on Netflix

No. 3: Outer Banks

An action-adventure series with a social message, Outer Bank is set in a coastal town in North Carolina that is divided between the wealthy seasonal residents (known as Kooks) and the hard-working locals (called Pogues). 

The show's first season sees a group of Pogue teenagers seek to discover the truth behind the disappearance of their group leader’s father, and along the way, they stumble upon a quest to find a legendary treasure. No prizes for guessing the two mysteries are links. Season 2 debuted in July 2021, and season 3 just hit Netflix earlier this week so it’s not surprising to see this one rocket into the Netflix top 5 as fans tear through the latest collection of episodes. 

There’s definitely a high degree of melodrama to Outer Banks, but it remains compelling thanks to a strong sense of mystery and an excellent setting. This is a Netflix show that will have you pressing the “watch next episode” button several times in succession. 

Our verdict: Stream it
Genre: Adventure
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Stream it on Netflix

No. 4: Triptych 

Triptych has a pretty intriguing premise, it follows Becca (Maite Perroni) a forensics investigator who is called to the scene of a crime only to be shocked to discover the victim looks just like her. Discovering she was separated at birth from her two identical sisters, she embarks on a dangerous mission to uncover the truth behind her origins.   

This Spanish-language series has rocketed straight into the Netflix top 10 and seems to be causing quite a stir with subscribers. It packs several neat twists and plenty of strangely gripping melodrama. It’s maybe not a Netflix show that will live long in the memory once you’ve polished off the final episode, but the eight-episode ride is still mostly worth taking. 

There’s currently not much of a critical reception around Triptych as most of the major publications appear to have skipped reviewing it - perhaps they didn’t expect it to enjoy as much success as it’s done. But don’t let that stop you from giving this new Netflix thriller a well-deserved chance. 

Our verdict: Stream it
Genre: Thriller
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
Stream it on Netflix

No. 5: You 

You is one of Netflix’s biggest-ever hits. The thriller series debuted in 2018 and focuses on the misadventures of Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), a bookstore employee with obsessive tendencies. The show’s first three seasons followed a fairly similar structure: Joe meets a new woman, becomes infatuated with them to the point of stalking and the ultimate outcome usually involves murder. 

However, our You season 4 part 1 review shows how the series switches things up a bit as the show has now morphed into more of a murder mystery. Tom's Guide's Kelly Woo declared “the hunter becomes the prey in a refreshing update to formula,” and that’s an assessment I certainly agree with. You has never been what you might call “prestige television”, but it fully embraces its own absurdity and is tailor-made for binge-watching — that is once again the case with this first half of season 4. 

If you’re already a fan, you’ve probably already consumed the entirety of the first half of the fourth installment and are eagerly awaiting the release of You season 4 part 2 on March 9. If you’re a newcomer, you’ve got plenty to get caught up with. 

Our verdict: Stream it
Genre: Thriller
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stream it on Netflix

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Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.