Nearly every episode of Criminal Minds begins and ends with a quote from a noted thinker, usually heard in voiceover while we see B-roll of a plane flying to whichever city is currently under the threat of a serial killer. In that vein, here is some wisdom from Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos, courtesy of BrainyQuote.com: “The longer people watch Netflix and the longer they stay members — they're the criteria of success for us.”
If that is the case, then Sarandos better not pull Criminal Minds from the Netflix catalog, because in 2021 people streamed a whopping 33.9 billion minutes of the show, making it the most viewed television show on any streaming platform last year, according to Nielsen. People just couldn’t get enough of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) of the FBI and the various kidnappers, serial killers, family annihilators, and serial rapists they deal with in each episode. You can only watch Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou so many times before you have to get your Matthew Gray Gubler fix elsewhere.
Sadly for Mr. Sarandos, none of Netflix’s original content nabbed the top spots on the most-streamed list. Coming in at No. 2 was CoComelon, a show meant to distract toddlers and infants while their caretakers try to fold laundry. Elsewhere on the list is NCIS (No. 3), Grey’s Anatomy (No. 4), and something called Heartland (No. 5), which is a Canadian family drama about a horse ranch that has 15 seasons.
What I’m learning from this data is that for all the talk of prestige TV exploring the lasting effects of trauma, people just want trash. Be it crimes or medical emergencies or whatever is going on on the Heartland ranch, we all just want to turn off our brains and watch something that we’ve probably seen before. Pack it up, Emily and the Queer Eyes (good band name), we care not for you. What the people want is to watch Special Agent Hotchner describe an unsub (that’s an unknown subject, for the uninformed) as a white male in his twenties, probably an antisocial loner with a fractured family history. That’s the good stuff.