Last summer, I made a grievous mistake while getting my hair braided. As I eased into the chair, mentally preparing myself (well, my glutes) for the hours-long process ahead, I looked up and asked my stylist an idle question: What have you been watching on Netflix lately? She launched into an explanation of her latest binge watch, and by the time the lower quadrant of my hair was sectioned off into plaits, I’d somehow become invested in the story of a protagonist whose description I can’t believe is real, even now.
The cynically named CW series In the Dark follows a blind 20-something woman named Murphy Mason, whose penchant for drinking and vacuous sexual encounters is rivaled only by her determination to solve the disappearance of her teenage friend Tyson, a drug dealer with a heart of gold who once saved her from a violent mugging. The series is a chaotic mélange of genre clichés with some earnest moments sprinkled in, which is to say it’s a natural Netflix hit. Sure enough, the first season of In the Dark found a larger audience after the streaming platform picked it up, and since last week, the newly released Season 2 has bounced around Netflix’s Top 10 most watched list.
A relatively new feature, the list offers a glimpse into what other users in the same country are gravitating toward on any given day. As the coronavirus pandemic has hamstrung the production and release of new entertainment, the Top 10 list has become an oddly influential tastemaker. Did I expect a preponderance of Netflix subscribers to be so eager to find out what happened to Murphy and Tyson? Not really—but I’m not surprised to see it. The list is regularly dominated by the kinds of shows and movies best described as “things to play in the background while you scroll on your phone.”