Shawn Ryan's 'The Night Agent' Is Streaming's Biggest New Show of 2023 So Far -- Netflix Weekly Rankings for March 20-26

Netflix original series 'The Night Agent'
Gabriel Basso, star of Netflix's breakout hit 'The Night Agent,' wants you to say no to gun violence. (Image credit: Netflix)

Shawn Ryan-produced spy thriller The Night Agent just had the best debut for a new subscription streaming series so far this year, racking up nearly 169 million viewing hours on Netflix's global platform in its first four days.

The Night Agent also had the second best week for a Netflix show in 2023, with its March 20-26 performance only bested by the week 1 debut of Ginny & Georgia: Season 2 back in January. 

The Night Agent stars relative newcomer Gabriel Basso as a low-level FBI agent Peter Sutherland, whose job is to monitor a phone that seldom rings in the bowels of the White House. When it does ring, Sutherland is propelled into a world of conspiracy, heroic action ... and sweet, nourishing cinematic violence. 

By producer/showrunner Ryan's back-of-the-napkin math, The Night Agent was seen by more than 20.7 million viewers.

(Image credit: Twitter)

Somehow, even with the latest John Wick shoot-'em-up drawing the kids back to the multiplex, we didn't see this trend line comin' ... which makes us turn to the dark art of film and TV criticism for insight into what just happened.

We didn't find many answers there as to why The Night Agent, and its minimal star power, broke out.

Rotten Tomatoes critically aggregated it at a middling 67%.

"In the second half of the series, the action is ramped up and the plot twists bend credulity close to the breaking point -- but we stick with it, and we’re rewarded with some payoffs," wrote the Chicago Sun Times' Richard Roeper, in a review that makes not that excited at all.

But sure, Shawn Ryan has a track record. And it's not like Netflix can't use the hit. By late March last year, the platform had already racked up two incendiary performances from Shonda Rhimes, limited socialite scammer biopic Inventing Anna, and the second season of Bridgerton.

Beyond the Shadow and Bone: S2, which grew its audience marginally in its second week to 55 million streaming hours, nothing else really struck for Netflix last week.

Korean local-language revenge thriller The Glory looked two weeks ago like it was on the verge of a global breakout, but it never caught on in the U.S. It slipped to just 48.4 million viewing hours last week.

I think we called it "the next Squid Game." Read us and do the opposite.

(Image credit: Netflix)

(Image credit: Netflix)

(Image credit: Netflix)

(Image credit: Netflix)
Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!