Wow, I have to say, I did not see this coming. After just a few days on top of Netflix’s Top 10 list, Cheer season 2 has already been knocked down to #2 by a totally unexpected, out-of-nowhere offering.
That would be Archive 81, the new horror series from Netflix based on of all things, a podcast, that has arrived with a huge impact, debuting above the likes of Cobra Kai and The Witcher, and unseating Cheer for the #1 spot in just a few days.
Cheer season 2 may have been burned through by super fans on day one or two, which is why it’s declining now, as it’s the kind of show you want to binge, just to see all the hard work pay off in the finale performance for the finale. Cheer season 2 was kind of hard to watch, marred by both Covid, which made both teams lose an entire season, and saw many fan favorite cheerleaders have their careers end unceremoniously, and also the Jerry Harris scandal, where the formerly beloved Navarro cheerleader is now in jail awaiting trial for soliciting child pornography and sex from minors. There’s an entire episode devoted to the situation, and it’s pretty tough to watch.
As for Archive 81, again, I don’t think anyone saw this coming, Netflix included. It’s not a returning season of a big name show, nor was it a much-hyped project before this. I had never heard one thing about it before it debuted, but it appears to have really struck a chord in a way we haven’t seen since maybe the original Haunting of Hill House. I can’t remember other, more recent horror series like Midnight Mass or Brand New Cherry Flavor hitting #1 on the site before this.
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Archive 81 follows a man tasked with reassembling damaged footage shot by a young woman in the ‘90s, investigating a mysterious apartment building. The series has extreme echoes of Rosemary’s Baby and its apartment-based cult, but takes a hard turn into cosmic, almost Lovecraftian horror. It also ends in a way that demands a season 2, and with this kind of performance, I’m 100% sure it’s going to get one.
The show is unique in that Archive 81 really does not have any big name cast members at all. Netflix is no stranger to A-listers in their series at this point, but Archive 81 is full of fresh faces. I kind of recognized star Mamoudou Athie from his supporting role in Kristin Stewart’s Underwater. He was also the lead in Amazon’s Black Box. And the young woman, Melody, is played by Dina Shihabi, who has had roles in shows like Altered Carbon and Jack Ryan, and this is certainly her breakout part.
This is an extremely impressive performance from Archive 81, and it appears to be another “viral” Netflix offering, boosted not by stars or heavy promotion, but simple word of mouth. And I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you stick with it until the end. With a second season sure to come now, this seems like a show worthy of investing in.