It’s a Friday night after the end of a mundane week of work and school, and you finally get to sit down for the night. Maybe you’ll watch a new movie that social media is raving about, or maybe you’ll eagerly continue watching a show recommended to you by a friend whose life also revolves around their TV. Whatever you choose, you can be certain that almost every other household in America is settling down to pursue the start of the weekend in the same fashion. Better yet, every household in America has kept to this weekly ritual and has probably seen every source of entertainment that Netflix has to offer.
Now, a year into the pandemic, streaming movies and shows has become not just an American pastime, but the foundation of American quarantine culture. As weeks of living the same day over and over again pass by, the only diversion that helps to differentiate the days of the week is the escape that comes with a prominent blockbuster or pleasant sitcom to dive into each night.
This consumption of media as an escape is not a new concept — people have escaped into fictional worlds for years — but it has taken on a new and deeper meaning in our new reality. People don’t just want to escape work or academic stress anymore. People want to salvage each of their days by filling in the current void of social life with attainable entertainment provided by services like Netflix. Monotonous routines and being cooped up indoors all day make escapism that much more needed.
The reality and escapism and binge-watching have had an impact that most people haven’t thought about, let alone really even cared about — that is, until now. With awards season approaching, people who have lived this media-consumed life for almost a year now are starting to realize that, for once, they have actually watched most of the works nominated for awards.
Recently the Golden Globe nominations were announced, and many were surprised by how many quarantine comfort movies and shows were included. Not only is comfort media included, but most nominations are from the most popular streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu and HBO Max.
Movies brought on by Netflix like “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “Pieces of a Woman” all secured nominations, and other streaming services have their fair share of potential award winners such as “Sound of Metal,” “One Night in Miami” and “Hamilton.” Despite being released at different points throughout the pandemic, these films have seen great popularity among viewers, further underscoring the power of pandemic movie viewing.
Streaming services also sweeped the television categories in the Golden Globe nominations, covering all the bases from feel-good sitcoms to acclaimed dramas. Netflix left its mark on the television section of the list securing nominations for some of its most popular streams of the year.
“The Crown,” a cult favorite that depicts the life of England’s royals through the years, received nods for best drama series as well as best actor and actress in a drama series. Also landing big for Netflix is its hard hitting crime drama “Ozark,” as well as its popular take on an origin story in “Ratched.” “Emily in Paris,” a quirky comedy about an American girl moving to Paris also secured a surprising nomination, and a fan favorite that reached 62 million household streams within the first month of its release, “The Queen’s Gambit,” received multiple nominations.
Also scoring big was HBO Max with shows like “The Flight Attendant” and “The Undoing.” Hulu and Disney Plus trailed behind but still had notable nods for “Normal People,” a touching romance set in Ireland and “The Mandalorian,” which has quickly become one of Disney Plus’ most popular series.
One show that not only swept the Golden Globes (and the Emmys back in September) but also all of America off their feet is Schitt’s Creek. With all four main cast members nominated for their roles and the show receiving a nod for best comedy series, fans of the Canadian show about an eccentric family losing all of their wealth are delighted that it’s getting the recognition it deserves.
In the past, award shows have usually grabbed the attention of avid movie and television viewers, but with all of these notable movies and shows making waves not only on streaming platforms this year but also at award shows, Americans might be more likely to tune in this time around and root for their favorite show or fictional character to reign victorious.
The culture around streaming movies and shows was transformed by the nature of the pandemic and the way in which people have gone about their lives in the last year. When staying at home and having as little social interaction as possible became the norm in 2020, people adapted by curbing their natural desire to be social and channeling that energy into new and noteworthy productions to watch.
Although almost everyone’s screen time has increased in the past year, there is something to say about the joy that came with this “year of watching.” The circumstances that everyone has faced have been by no means easy, and people have realized how difficult it is mentally, emotionally and physically it is to live in the current state of our world.
If watching a new episode or a new movie is how you found joy this past year, be happy about that and be proud that you did something that made you feel a little better. If there’s anything the world has learned in the past year, it’s that the little things make up a happy life, so continue binge watching shows, rating and reviewing new movies and for once, watch this year’s award shows like it’s your own personal Super Bowl.