We watched 63% more television in 2020, for some very obvious reasons. It’s been a long subject of debate, but the pop culture that we consume has a very real impact on our behaviors, ways of thinking, and our view of the world. Both Netflix and Google have released figures about the most popular TV shows of last year, and it seems that the proof of the importance of pop culture has never been more stark.
Here are the biggest and most popular shows that we binged watched and rewatched in 2020 and the effect that they have had on our lives.
The Queen’s Gambit
Going into 2020, nobody could have foreseen that one of the biggest hits of the year would be about chess. The Netflix mini-series, The Queen’s Gambit, was one of the biggest hits that Netflix has ever seen, and the story of Beth Harmon has resonated with audiences in some surprising ways, despite being something of a period drama. Watched by 62 million households in just 28 days, the show led to an 88% increase in google searches for chess, and sales of chess sets soared. Some toy companies reported sales increases of up to 1000%!
Love them or hate them, the royal family saw an incredible surge of interest in 2020 thanks to the fourth season of The Crown. While previous seasons have been popular, the leap to a more modern setting saw online searches for the clothes worn by the characters surge (turtlenecks had a 7,000% increase in Google searches). But it’s not just fashion. Even views on the royal family changed, with the website Betway reporting that 35% of people who watched the latest season saying that they view the royals a little better or much better. The opinion of Prince Charles changed too, with 34% of British audiences saying they now viewed him with more empathy after watching the show.
Emily in Paris
Despite the controversy over the personality traits of the main character, there’s no disputing that Emily in Paris was one of the most popular shows of the year. It became the most binged show in release week ever, and a second season has already been greenlit. With a show so focused on fashion, it’s no surprise that Google saw a massive leap in searches for some of the key clothes and accessories highlighted in the series. Bucket hats alone saw a leap of searches by 342%, and sales of those hats, berets, and jelly snapshot camera bags have helped the fashion industry make some serious sales figures.
While the link between the pop culture that we enjoy and the products that we buy has been well known for decades (product placement is used for a reason), it’s never been easier to see those connections. Back when the popularity of the film series Twilight saw an increase in the number of people reading the book Wuthering Heights, or when online searches for Charles Manson went up by 3,2000% during the apex of Mindhunter, pop culture is clearly formative. Just as nobody expected the biggest hits of the year to be about the royals, Paris, or chess, who knows what changes the biggest shows of 2021 will bring.