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This new No. 1 Netflix show just beat Stranger Things

Netflix on TV with remote control in foreground
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Update: Resident Evil lost the top slot, and then a new No. 1 show on Netflix beat Stranger Things (again) after the Hawkins crowd climbed up to No. 1. 

The new No. 1 show on Netflix continues Netflix's solid track record when it comes to adapting popular video games into TV shows, but not with all critics. So, following The Witcher and The Cuphead Show, the streaming service's latest project isn't as clear-cut a success.

After a significant marketing push, that even involved a very cool 3D billboard (opens in new tab), Netflix’s adaptation of the beloved survival-horror series Resident Evil launched last week (Friday, July 15). But while it's kicking butt on the Netflix Top 10, those fans seem to have ignored those reviews that aren't so positive.

In the days following its release, Resident Evil jumped up to No. 1 on the Top TV shows in the U.S. chart. It's the first show to boot Stranger Things 4 from that spot in weeks.

What is Resident Evil about?  

Based on the long-running video game series, Resident Evil is an action-horror TV show that revolves around a virus that turns people into mutated creatures and the sinister Umbrella Corporation that is harboring dark secrets and could be responsible for the outbreak.

Netflix’s Resident Evil takes place in a separate universe from the video games but takes several plot elements from its source material, as well as one of its main characters being a familiar face to longtime players. The show is also set across two distinct timelines, 2022 and 2036. 

In 2022, twins Billie and Jade Wesker move to an Umbrella Corporation housing community after their father, Dr. Albert Wesker, is hired for an executive position at the struggling company. Once there, the duo stumbles upon dark secrets about Umbrella and their father most coordinate a response to an outbreak of the deadly T-virus.

14 years later, in 2036, The T-virus has decimated society with the remaining humans living in walled cities and small settlements. The majority of the population has become cannibalistic zombies. But in this chaos Umbrella has risen to become the most powerful organization left on earth, and it's conducting a global manhunt for Jade Wesker.  

What do critics say about Resident Evil?  

Critics have had a fairly mixed response to Resident Evil, with the show currently scoring 51% on Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab). And while this isn't the worst rating we’ve seen for a Netflix show this year, it’s still a far cry from the positive reception enjoyed by the streamer’s previous video game adaptations. 

Brain Tallerico of RogerEbert.com (opens in new tab) was fairly cutting, saying “consider this another failed Umbrella experiment. And Ben Travers of IndieWire (opens in new tab) wasn’t any more positive, declaring that “Resident Evil is a mishmash of ambitions, likely to satisfy very few fans of the franchise (whether they’re fond of the video games, movies, or both).”

But there were positive takes as well. The Guardian (opens in new tab)’s Lucy Mangan labeled the show “a mindlessly fantastic eight hours” and Jordan Moreau of Variety (opens in new tab) was also fairly positive, writing: “Fans of the series of the genre may find some enjoyable moments amid this apocalyptic tale. Lance Reddick also gives a dynamic performance as the show progresses, but his absence from scenes leaves viewers hungry for more.” 

What do Netflix subscribers think of Resident Evil?  

Ella Balinska as Jade Wesker in Resident Evil on Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

While Resident Evil has charted well so far, audience reviews tell a different story, as the show has endured an overwhelmingly negative response from viewers. The show’s audience score stands at a pretty abysmal 25% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is indicative of its scathing reception from fans of the video game franchise. 

Things don’t get better for Resident Evil when you head over to IMDb (opens in new tab) where the show has pulled a terrible 3.6/10 rating. Across 12,500 user ratings, 40% of viewers rated the show 1/10, although 12% awarded it a perfect 10/10 which would suggest Resident Evil does have at least a few passionate defenders. 

These very low scores could be in reaction to the show’s unfaithfulness to the original source material which was a point of contention prior to its launch. The decision to focus primarily on a new character, Jade Wesker, instead of one of the franchise’s beloved fan favorites has been criticized as well. 

Analysis: Should you stream Resident Evil?  

With such poor audience scores, and a clear lack of overall subscriber interest, it’s not a great surprise that many are opting to skip Resident Evil rather than stream the initially hyped show.

Unfortunately, Resident Evil is no stranger to disappointing adaptations with a similarly underwhelming six-part film series starring Milla Jovovich running from 2002 to 2016. While these films were clearly financially successful they were generally reviewed pretty poorly, but have over time developed a cult following. 

Last year saw a reboot of the film series hit theatres. Named Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, the movie received lukewarm reviews, but its faithfulness to the source material was praised and it was a minor box office success. It may be worth watching this film instead of Netflix’s Resident Evil TV show — at least the movie will only take up 100 minutes of your time. 

Kaya Scodelario as Claire Redfield and Avan Jogia as Leon Kennedy in Resident Evil Welcome to Raccoon City

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

However, if you’re absolutely desperate to watch a Resident Evil TV show, Netflix actually does offer an alternative in the form of the animated series Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness. This four-series launched just a couple of weeks ago, and while it definitely has faults, its slick animation and host of familiar characters make it an easy recommendation for long-time fans of the Resident Evil franchise. 

Considering the various underwhelming adaptations that Resident Evil fans have endured over the year, it’s a real shame to see Netflix adding more disappointment to the pile. But unfortunately in this case it looks like the streamer may have actually made the worst-received Resident Evil adaptation to date, which is some achievement considering the competition. 

If you’re really jonesing for a Resident Evil fix this week, you’d probably be better off replaying one of the classic video games instead. Might we suggest the Resident Evil 2 remake as it's just received a shiny new next-gen port for PS5 and Xbox Series X

Next: The 7 best new movies of the week feature a big Netflix Original. Plus, a new HBO Max show from Euphoria's creator looks wild and Amazon just gave Prime Video a big upgrade it really needed.

Rory Mellon
Rory Mellon

Rory is a Deals Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on deals, gaming and streaming. When he’s not scouring retailers for PS5 restock or writing hot takes on the latest gaming hardware and streaming shows, he can be found attending music festivals and being thoroughly disappointed by his terrible football team.