Netflix Has a Favorite Formula
The “whodunit” format has become a staple with recent Netflix additions.
If you have been watching Netflix within the last few months, you’ll notice something rather interesting. Some popular shows and films have essentially been telling the same story. The “whodunit” format has become a staple with recent Netflix additions.
In essence, a “whodunit,” is a story in which there is an unidentified perpetrator of a crime (typically murder). The criminal behind the act is typically revealed by the end. In some shows, the resolution keeps the one behind the crime unidentified.
The entries on Netflix being analyzed have been released in late 2022.
A few months ago, “The Watcher” was released. A seven-episode limited series starring Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale depicting a family moving into an upscale New Jersey suburbia surrounded by rather strange neighbors. As the plot progresses, the family begins to receive discomforting letters from an entity that calls themself, “The Watcher”. The entire show from the point of initial conflict is the family trying to figure out who is behind the letters. According to Deadline, the series attained over 250 million hours viewed within weeks of its release. It was clear that the show was gaining a significant viewership. The plot was considerably thrilling and it was engaging. The ending of the show was not typical as it left the watcher’s identity a mystery.
One month later, another hit show was released, “Wednesday,” starring Jenna Ortega. It follows the Addams family into a new chapter of Wednesday’s youth. The show begins with Wednesday Addams being admitted into Nevermore Academy. At this new institution, she comes across some unorthodox characters. To no surprise, this environment was in her wheelhouse. While she is navigating her new school and lifestyle, she comes across a mysterious beast that is wreaking havoc on the school. A life is taken by this creature in the process. The rest of the episodes are about Wednesday’s quest to find out who the monster is behind the killing. The ending does reveal that the monster was one of her friends. “Wednesday” was possibly Netflix’s most-watched release as it amassed over 1 billion viewing hours.
By the end of the year, the sequel to 2019 blockbuster “Knives Out” came out. “Glass Onion,” starring Daniel Craig, is the most textbook whodunit story one could come across. A detective is invited to a private island alongside several rich folks in the name of a murder mystery party. While the gathering itself is to play the murder mystery game, it ends up becoming a real murder mystery as multiple guests get gunned down. Since the film was a traditional whodunit, the murderer is revealed by the end and there is a happy ending. According to CNET, “Glass Onion,” was the 4th most watched movie of all-time on Netflix, with nearly 280 million hours viewed.
The abundance of whodunit stories in the span of three months going into 2023 proved to be beneficial for Netflix. There is no doubt that thrillers are what keep viewers entertained on various platforms.