The Most Successful TV Shows of 2020 (…and why they mattered)

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%!

The Crown

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.

The self-doubt monster you should leave in 2019

With only a couple of weeks remaining before the end of the year, you’re looking back at the year right about now and weighing your performance. If you’re not, you should be.

As is par for the course, everything can’t have gone your way over the year. How could it, especially with the economy we’re having? And so, having spectacularly not achieved things you’d expected to achieve, or failed or not found or lost something you wanted, self-doubt about the coming year is probably wriggling its way into your mind right this second.

I consider myself an expert in self-doubt as writers experience self-doubt more than most. Of course, you’ll find self-doubt in other spheres of life besides writing and in writers. One can fail at pretty much anything, even that which one shouldn’t have failed at, and this leads to a loss of confidence in one’s own abilities, self-doubt. But as an expert, I’ll tell you this about self-doubt.

Self-doubt is a b*tch, the kind that wiggles into your head and heart to cause you harm.

You know the type, she’s fine but crazy. She’s trouble but still fine, and much as you’d like to rid yourself of her because she does your head in, you have such a serious thing for her, she’s in every thought you have.

Guys know this chick and if you don’t, I’ll tell you about her. She’s that on-again, off-again or, as Keith Sweat sings it, that ‘Out of your life into your bed, out of your heart and into you head, in-and-out’ girl that has you tied in knots.

She’s fine (I already said that, didn’t I?). Deserves mentioning again because we’re not talking some run-of-the-mill beauty here. Plus she can lay down the loving. The thing about this girl, though, is she doesn’t want the best for you, and so she makes you think you’re safer and comfortable being with her than without. That’s self-doubt.

Self-doubt tells you that you’re stupid, weird, you don’t have what it takes, you’re not good enough, stick to what you know. The aim is to crush your self-esteem, suck the life out of you so you don’t move on to bigger and better things.

And if you even look like you’re thinking of moving, self-doubt cosies up to you sexy-like and whispers into your ear the fear of failure, painting for you pictures of the dark creatures that await you away from the little box she’s put you in called nice, safe, comfortable routine.

Self-doubt doesn’t play fair either because even when you get serious about breaking free, when she senses you cutting away at the chains with a file to escape, self-doubt hits up her girlfriends, namely critics, hecklers and naysayers on text-Insta-Twit-Face to spread negativity in your direction about how you can’t live without her.

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Self-doubt, however, is not the enemy. You know the enemy, you’ve met the enemy, the enemy is you. That part of you that listens to self-doubt and believes everything she says.

My advice, auto-reject self-doubt’s calls, don’t read her texts, block her from whispering fear into your mind, ghost that bitch for you’ll never get past the fear of failing again with self-doubt in your life.

Everything you’ve ever wanted is sitting on the other side of fear – George Addair.

By Edward Gakuya/The Star