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The critics are wrong about Netflix's Resident Evil show — here’s why I love it

SIENA AGUDON as YOUNG BILLIE, TAMARA SMART as YOUNG JADE, looking horrified in Netflix's Resident Evil
(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix's latest show proves (to me) why a backlash, or critical derision, doesn't mean  a lack of quality. Netflix shows based on beloved pop culture arrive with cross-hairs on them. Just look at the live-action Cowboy Bebop series. While it was not the original, I found it interesting enough, but the public's opinion was decided early.

And, lo and-behold, this may be what's happened with the new Resident Evil series. Not only does Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab) currently list it with a 51% critics score, but a more-putrid 25% audience score as well. 

User Camilo A (opens in new tab) wrote "Don't loose [sic] your time. This is just horrible. As a fan of the franchise since 1996 playing and watching all of its games and movies, I can only say this is insulting. Don't watch it. Don't loose [sic] your time on this. Even if you are not a fan or have never played the games. It will just disappoint you. Netflix should take this thing down out of respect." 

Not to tell someone they're wrong, but I respectfully disagree. And I'm not alone. Since the show dropped, two friends of mine — who are hardcore Resident Evil game fans — and I have been chatting about it daily. And we're not the only ones watching Resident Evil, either. The series was the first show to knock Stranger Things out of the No. 1 spot in Netflix's Top 10 TV Shows in the U.S. Today list (which it held for a whopping 15 days, and then took it back on July 20). But Resident Evil didn't fall after those initial days of success, it's still the No. 2 show in the country on Netflix.

Here's why Resident Evil is headed to our list of the best shows on Netflix.

What is Resident Evil on Netflix all about?

Netflix's Resident Evil works really well because it delivers two sides of the apocalypse. First, you get the good old days, where Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick) and his daughters Jade (Tamara Smart) and Billie (Siena Agudong) are new in town in New Raccoon City. Then, you have the dank hell that Jade (Ella Balinska) is trying to survive. 

ELLA BALINSKA as JADE, holding a gun and a flashlight gun in Netflix's RESIDENT EVIL

(Image credit: Marcos Cruz/Netflix)

In the latter, Resident Evil proves itself great at a few things. The first among them are really cool monsters. The giant worm from the start of the series is a favorite, and I look forward to seeing where it pops up next (and how it mutates as well). 

I won't spoil the big monster that's delivered as the final set piece, but I can also respect how it brought the RE lickers back, and also delivered a famous Resident Evil monster at the very end — to hopefully haunt things in Resident Evil season 2 (were Netflix to renew it). The dog you've possibly seen in trailers is mighty scary too.

Resident Evil is like a Fast & Furious movie, in a good way

Sure, Resident Evil could use to have more monsters, but since things haven't gone completely haywire at the start, the madness isn't really there yet. They're building something. 

But Netflix's Resident Evil isn't just about the T-Virus mutations that are ripping humanity apart. The family story at the core of Resident Evil, with twin sisters Jade and Billie and their dad Albert, is the true meat on the bone. 

SIENA AGUDONG as BILLIE in RESIDENT EVIL, TAMARA SMART as YOUNG JADE, standing outside, in RESIDENT EVIL

(Image credit: Netflix)

This may be why established fans don't like Netflix's Resident Evil. It's got a Young Adult (aka YA) bent to it that I'm more eager than ever to embrace (thanks to Ms. Marvel). Yes, I'll admit that the calamity that they get into that sets off much of the show's plot feels a little contrived. But that scene is over pretty quickly, and the rest of the storytelling isn't forced.

As we see Billie and Jade struggle to adapt to a new city and problems at school, and their troubled bond leads them down bad alleys. If you can't find yourself digging Resident Evil because it's about teens? Well, to each their own, but I say give it a second shot.

The Wesker family's connections and issues make for entertaining storytelling, and some hilariously surprising twists near the end. 

Netflix's Resident Evil is also funny

The other thing I absolutely love about Resident Evil on Netflix is the utter hilariousness of the dialogue. I can't say much to explain the situation, but Lance Reddick's delivery of a line about breadsticks is so well done (as is the line) that I swore I was watching I Think You Should Leave (another of the best shows on Netflix).

Aside from that moment, we get some great stuff from Billie and Jade, though some might find Jade's quips in the first episode to be a bit over the top. That said? It all works if you ask me.

Yes, you should watch Netflix's Resident Evil

PAOLA NUNEZ as EVELYN in RESIDENT EVIL, almost pouting with her hands on her waist

(Image credit: Marcos Cruz)

So, you've got a new horror show with big monsters, a family story at its core, some solid humor and also it ties into the lore of the Resident Evil video games. I'm sure some folks who want the first of those elements will feel slighted by their vision of Resident Evil being tampered with.

That said, I have to give Netflix's Resident Evil credit. After the schlocky 2021 projects Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness and Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, I didn't expect much from this. Netflix managed to find a way to bring the game series to the TV show form that feels like more than just a video game adaptation. It's also a show with heart.

Henry T. Casey
Henry T. Casey

Henry is a senior 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.