With a critics' score of just 38% on Rotten Tomatoes, My Life With The Walter Boys is officially "rotten" – but that hasn't stopped Netflix renewing the show for a second season. The decision shows that when it comes to streaming, review scores are not necessarily that important.
That's particularly the case here, because when you look at the scores in more detail, it turns out that the low score is based on just eight ratings. Whereas the audience score – a fresh rating giving the show an impressive 78% – is based on more than one hundred. The reviews are largely from well known and trusted publications –Variety, CNN, The AV Club and so on.
But clearly the world's best streaming service, or the show's viewers, aren't seeing what they're seeing because the coming of age series has rocketed to the top of Netflix's most watched shows for the week – despite only being release on December 7.
What is My Life With The Walter Boys?
The show is a somewhat contrived teen romance: 15-year-old Jackie Howard's life is disrupted and she has to start over again in a new place – on a ranch with her guardian and the very many Walter boys of the title. Will she take a shine to any of the boys, and will any of them take a shine to her? You can probably guess.
The numbers are good, which is why Netflix has renewed the show: it's currently in its second week in the Netflix top 10, racking up nearly 13 million views between December 11 and 17. But it's fair to say that the critics aren't exactly loving it.
The word "generic" comes up a lot in the reviews, as does "predictable", but that doesn't really explain the low score. For that you're probably best to read the review on AVclub.com, whose Meredith Hobbs Coons points out some deeply problematic elements to the show: "When you think about it, it’s a deeply yucky premise" and the boys are often depicted as completely ignoring the boundaries Jackie sets. "Why can’t we have a 'swoonworthy' teen show that has boys being kind and valuing a girl’s consent, not saying 'trust me, you’ll like [riding horsies],' when she has already insisted 'I said I don’t like it'? One that shows them not doing the aggro wrist-grab thing when they want the girl to look at them or come back for another kissy?... it is mind-boggling that we’re still doing this, having our precious tweens and teens grow up thinking they have to prove themselves to stonewalling, petty boys a million times over".
The Wrap isn't exactly impressed either, suggesting that "the love story at the center of the teen drama has all the personality of smashing dolls together and demanding that they kiss". Jackie has "the personality of an unfrosted Pop-Tart" and "the entire world of My Life With the Walter Boys feels flimsy and thin, a surface-level amalgamation of popular tropes (Forced proximity! Grumpy-sunshine! Opposites attract! Forbidden romance!) with little substance underneath."
The Wrap's Lauren Thoman's review also included some praise, though, and it also offered some constructive advice should Netflix make a second season: "my hope is that it moves beyond archetypes and tropes and allows its characters to breathe a little. Let them be complex. Let them be messy. Let them figure out who they really are, and let those identities inform where they go."
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.