Netflix subscribers defy the critics as a new comedy hits the top spot

Senior Year
(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix has a new queen at the top of its weekly rundown of most-watched movies – and her name is Rebel Wilson. 

Netflix has published a weekly list detailing its most popular movies over a seven-day period since November of 2021, where the streamer ranks titles based on weekly hours viewed – i.e. the total number of hours subscribers around the world watched each title between Monday and Sunday of the previous week. 

Wilson's new comedy, Senior Year, has shot to the top of the rankings for movies, with over 62.4 million hours watched, just under double the next movie on the list – new family romance A Perfect Pairing – which has racked up 33 million hours. 

Senior Year stars Rebel Wilson as Stephanie Conway, a 37-year-old woman who wakes from a 20-year coma and decides to go back to high school to earn her diploma. Before she fell into her coma, Conway had seemingly the perfect life: she'd been named captain of the cheerleading squad, had a popular boyfriend, and was on track to be Prom Queen. When she returns to high school, she naturally wants that life back, but things have understandably moved on.

Starring alongside Wilson are Sam Richardson, Zoë Chao, Justin Hartley, Angourie Rice and Alicia Silverstone, with Alex Hardcastle, director of episodes of New Girl, The Office and Grace & Frankie, in charge. Wilson produced the film as well as taking the starring role. 

What makes the movie's achievement all the more impressive, and unlikely, is that the movie has had an absolute pasting from critics...

How bad have the reviews been?

We're not quite in the 0% on Rotten Tomatoes range, the fate that befell 365 Days: This Day, the weird erotic thriller that seemed to extol the virtues of kidnapping, which also scored the top spot on Netflix, but Wilson will not have been pleased with the write-ups for Senior Year. 

Thus far, the movie has a 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a lot of the reviews have been damning in the extreme. 

Newsday's Verne Gay said that it was "hard to imagine a more unpleasant movie than Senior Year", while The Guardian's Benjamin Lee called it a "disappointing and derivative two-hour slog down memory lane.". 

Decider's John Serba was even more scathing, writing that "there are precisely zero reasons to watch this instead of any of the films it pays homage to", while the New York Times' Amy Nicholson called it a movie with a "script hijacked by yearbook quotes."

There have been some kinder reviews, Noel Murray from the LA Times called Senior Year "not an ambitious movie, but it’s mostly a sweet one", but even the nicer reviews have all been damning with faint praise. 

Will Netflix care?

Probably not. When it comes to getting good reviews, Rebel Wilson has never exactly been Daniel Day-Lewis, so it's likely everyone involved knew what they were getting in for. 

In fact, Senior Year is a step up in Rotten Tomatoes ratings from a couple of Wilson's recent efforts, the critically-mauled Cats and the misguided remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Hustle. 

There's actually a hint at the end of Senior Year that plans for a sequel are underway. And, if this many viewers have watched it, why not?

Tom Goodwyn
Freelance Entertainment Writer

Tom Goodwyn was formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor. He's now a freelancer writing about TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in East London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two small children…