Amazon has announced that Sneaky Pete was its #1 most-watched show in North America and #2 most-watched show worldwide (falling behind only the popular Top Gear spin-off The Grand Tour), yet it still feels like a show that no one is talking about. It begs the question: if Sneaky Pete is seen by so many people, does that say more about Sneaky Pete's potential or Amazon's failure?
On the one hand, Sneaky Pete beating out Amazon shows like the Emmy Award-winning Transparent and The Man in the High Castle could signal that Amazon Prime Original Series are, as a whole, not doing very well. But on the other hand, Sneaky Pete actually deserves to be Amazon's most watched show. The crime dramedy's first season received a 100% Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics praising showrunner Graham Yost (Justified) and the entire ensemble cast. The second season (released on March 9, 2018) avoided a sophomore slump and has quickly garnered praise among critics.
Given Sneaky Pete's reception among audiences and critics, the problem isn't that Sneaky Pete is Amazon's #1 show - the problem is that it doesn't have a higher profile.
Amazon Prime Original Series May Be In Trouble
Other Amazon Original series seem to have gotten more attention in comparison to Sneaky Pete. Transparent became one of Amazon's highest-profile shows after its first season received eleven Emmy nominations. Over four seasons, Jeffrey Tambor - who plays Maura Pfefferman, a transgender woman who comes out to her children later in life - won the Emmy for Best Actor twice. Of course, more recently Transparent made headlines when Tambor was accused of sexual harassment and subsequently was fired from the show. Also popular is The Man in the High Castle, which imagines an alternative future in which Germany and Japan won World War II, made headlines for its disturbing advertising campaign which incorporated Nazi imagery; the show has also won an Emmy for cinematography.
According to Reuters, Amazon spends $5 billion per year on original video content, but viewership is relatively low, especially when compared to Netflix. While The Man in the High Castle reportedly had around 8 million viewers over its first two years on Amazon, Netflix's The Defenders had 6.1 million viewers in the first week alone. Amazon, like Netflix, is protective of its viewership numbers, and so it is difficult to know how successful Sneaky Pete actually is. Given the other shows' struggles. it's quite possible that Sneaky Pete taking the crown for #1 most watched show in North America actually signals that Amazon's original content is not a lucrative endeavor.
Why We Should Be Talking About Sneaky Pete Regardless
The first season of Sneaky Pete features an incredible ensemble cast led by Giovanni Ribisi, with standout performances by Emmy-winning actors Margo Martindale and Bryan Cranston. Like Justified, Sneaky Pete effortlessly navigates surprisingly dark and humorous moments - with Martindale and Cranston, it's the closest thing on television to Justified meets Breaking Bad. Ribisi plays Marius, a con man who owes money to a mob boss; upon being released from prison, Marius poses as his cellmate, Pete, in an attempt to con Pete's estranged family. The first season is a refreshing take on recent shows that center the criminal anti-hero; it's exciting, binge-able, and most importantly, fun.
The second season doesn't slow down, continuing just moments after the first season's cliffhanger and propelling Marius's story into new and original territory. Season 1 of Sneaky Pete may have been a sleeper hit, but Season 2 deserves more attention and praise from critics, award shows, and viewers alike. Sneaky Pete is Amazon's #1 show amongst those in North America with a Prime membership for a reason - it's one show you don't want to miss.
Sneaky Pete Season 2 is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.