Stranger Things, The Sea Beast, and The Gray Man may have buoyed Netflix for the past few weeks, but the streamer’s latest thriller series, Keep Breathing, has suffered a critical setback.
The six-episode limited series follows Melissa Barrera’s Liv, a young lawyer who finds herself in a struggle for survival when her private plane crashes deep in the Canadian wilderness.
Keep Breathing hit Netflix on July 28, and while the show wasn’t given all that much time to breathe with general audiences, reviewers were less than thrilled with its familiar premise (see Yellowjackets, The Wilds) and monotonous storytelling.
For a bird’s-eye view of the series’ critical performance to date, Keep Breathing currently has a low rating of 38% on the review aggregator site Rotten tomatoes (opens in new tab) and a similarly disappointing 5.2 score IMDB (opens in new tab).
“Where its predecessors were inventive in their approach, Keep Breathing plods along, wearisomely unrealistic and painfully predictable,” he wrote Independently (opens in new tab)while The guard (opens in new tab) called the series “a survival drama so boring it puts you to sleep.”
CNN (opens in new tab) was equally unforgiving in his review: “The episodes are relatively and mercifully short, with most lasting around 30 minutes; Still, the show doesn’t quite escape the general impression of a film concept stretching to about twice the length.”
Many critics (including those of decision maker (opens in new tab) and diversity (opens in new tab)) at least praised Melissa Barrera’s performance as the show’s lead, though most still found Keep Breathing to be a lackluster version of a tried-and-true formula.
IGN (opens in new tab), for example, said: “Keep Breathing is well photographed, well acted and well meant. But as for the story itself, there’s just no reason to watch this mediocre take on the survival genre when there are so many other shows that have done it better.”
Analysis: Critics Damned?
Despite the series’ less than glamorous reception, recent trends suggest that Keep Breathing will still manage to make it to the top echelons of Netflix’s weekly top 10 ranking for an extended period of time (it’s already the biggest show on Netflix UK).
In 2022, countless critically tipped movies and TV shows have risen to the top of the streamer’s popularity charts, and Keep Breathing’s easy-to-digest structure — each episode lasts only 30 to 40 minutes — will inevitably work in their favor.
What’s more, Netflix subscribers have proven that they don’t care much about critics’ opinions. Take 365 Days: This Day, for example, which briefly became the most popular movie on the streamer despite a miserable 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. or interceptorwhich defied its label of “terrible, horrible, not good, very bad movie” to also reach number one in its first week of release.
On the TV front, anatomy of a scandal shot to the top of the platform’s most viewed charts despite its largely negative critical reception, during the “very difficult to watch” first kill also defied his critics.
The point is, for better or for worse, viewership is the single most important measure of Netflix’s success precarious current situationand company executives will be more than happy to weather Keep Breathing’s critical storm if the series delivers the goods on the numbers front.