Watch ‘3 Body Problem’ on Netflix With DISH

A scene from '3 Body Problem' on Netflix

They said it was unadaptable. Despite winning multiple awards, the book was just too twisty and dense, its themes too heavy for a broad audience. More than 10 years on, it’s now one of the defining TV series of its era.

We’re referring to David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ adaptation of Game of Thrones, of course. Now the duo has teamed with True Blood and The Terror writer Alexander Woo for the new Netflix series 3 Body Problem, another award-winning book whose heady ideas and concepts made it a major challenge to adapt. Once again, Benioff, Weiss, and Woo have pulled it off.


A lot of their success stems from smart adaptation choices. The book by Chinese novelist Liu Cixin featured a protagonist who is more of a vehicle for the story’s plot than a fully-fleshed out character. In the Netflix adaptation, he’s been replaced by multiple characters, which opens up new lanes for the story beats and new dynamics among the cast. For those who have read the book (or Cixin’s full trilogy), it’s also reinvigorating; while certain moments from the story are faithfully rendered, other elements are entirely new, making the experience more novel than other paint-by-numbers adaptations.

And about that plot: It’s (inter)stellar. The non-spoiler version is that a number of prominent scientists and academics are taking their own lives as the laws of science begin to crumble. Particle accelerators are malfunctioning. Physics equations no longer add up. Even the night sky blinks as if running low on battery. Among those reeling are the “Oxford Five” – Jack (John Bradley), Jin (Jess Hong), Auggie (Eiza González), Will (Alex Sharp), and Saul (Jovan Adepo). While grieving the loss of their professor at Oxford, they begin to experience strange phenomena, which seem to be connected to a futuristic VR headset that places them inside a strange game where the only goal is to keep civilization alive.

Meanwhile in a series of flashbacks we meet Ye Wenjie (Zine Tseng), a young Chinese scientist whose academic father is brutally murdered during a “struggle session” in the show’s riveting opening scene. After being assigned to a top secret research facility, Ye Wenjie starts sending messages out to the recesses of space. Ultimately, her communication efforts raise questions that are as philosophically rich as they are scientifically dense.

If that description is oblique, it’s because one of the great joys of the book is discovering the way the disparate plot strands eventually coalesce. Although the series considerably speeds up some of the book’s revelations, 3 Body Problem is the type of show that’s more entertaining the less you know. 

Instead, we’ll close with praise for the show’s top-notch production values, visual effects, and writing. Befitting of the cachet they earned with the Emmy-winning Thrones, 3 Body Problem looks amazing; like a TV version of Dune Part 2, 3 Body Problem is the rare example of a show whose sizable budget is clearly justified in its opulent production design. The show’s themes may ultimately bend toward navel-gazing philosophy, but those questions are encased within a wildly entertaining sci-fi mystery. If you’ve been waiting for a smart, cerebral binge-watch, 3 Body Problem is your solution.

To watch 3 Body Problem on Netflix with DISH*, select the Netflix app under the “Menu” screen, or by saying “Netflix” in your DISH voice remote. Not a DISH subscriber? Follow this link to find the best offer and subscribe to DISH today!

*Netflix requires a separate subscription from DISH. Netflix is only available on internet-connected Hopper devices.