Over the past year, the primary trends in arts and entertainment have involved “nesting in place.” If it couldn’t be consumed in one’s literal home, it just wasn’t happening. As we head toward our new normal, it is likely that some pandemic-era trends will remain — who doesn’t like online beer and trivia night? — while other trends will emerge, driven by younger consumers, greater multiculturalism, economic factors, and social influencers, among other factors.
Here are our top five predicted media/entertainment trends, based upon media experts’ opinions, personal observation, and Ouija consultation:
- Luxe nesting and streaming. Sure, people are heading back to movie theaters in greater numbers now, but all those monstrosity-sized TV screens purchased mid-pandemic must be put to good use. We’ve become spoiled at being able to pause first-run movies, enjoy our own butter-drenched popcorn, and cuddle with our pets and/or significant others. In the past year, every major studio seems to have released its own streaming empire; e.g., Disney, Paramount, etc., so there’s more material to watch than ever before.
CHECK OUT: The Best Streaming Services in 2021, for a review that provides pros, cons, and costs of all major streaming services.
- Docudrama and reality TV. We thought this trend had peaked with last spring’s crazier than crazy Tiger King, but then the latest documentaries on Britney Spears and Woody Allen came along this spring. And reality TV is more prolific than ever. Tame reality competitions have morphed into various iterations of 90-Day Fiancé, Real Housewives of Wherever, and Property Brothers, Cousins, and Sister Wives. Just like a meal no longer exists unless it is lovingly photographed for Instagram, real life only exists when we see it on TV or in a documentary. Some of this growing trend feeds of the energy of the not-yet-flagging true crime preoccupation, and there’s a good deal of cross-pollination among non-fiction blockbusters, follow-up movies, docudramas, or TV series, and podcasts about the making of said productions.
CHECK OUT: A Glitch in the Matrix, for a documentarian’s take on one of the favorite conspiracy theories out there — that we’re living in a simulated world. This would explain a lot about the last year or so.
- Online magazine and newsletter members-only subscriptions. Ah, the early days of the internet, when everything was free with just a click. I gave up magazine subscriptions for the most part years ago, as I could browse everything from Vanity Fair to The Atlantic online. Those days are now gone, as online magazines and newspapers rely on paywalls or members-only sections. A related, newer trend is the move toward aggregate newsletter and article sites, such as Substack, where many former magazine and newpaper columnists and opinion writers are forging more lucrative careers by offering direct subscriptions to readers.
CHECK OUT: Is Substack the Media Future We Want?, for The New Yorker’s take on this new online publishing platform.
- Interactive games. Chalk up the increase in interactive game playing at least partially to our long months at home and out of work or school. Video games have been popular for a couple of generations now, but word games, board games, trivia matches, poker and other card games are hotter than ever. Interest grew within bored families facing a larger amount of together time than anyone had ever craved. Friends gathered socially online to show Tik-Tok videos, play games, and have Zoom parties. Suddenly, talking is hotter than texting!
CHECK OUT: The Best Adult Board Games, for a review of such favorites as Cards Against Humanity and my current favorite, Codenames.
- Reading. It’s back to basics, as reading books seems more popular than ever – well, at least since the days before moving pictures. During the last year, reading became a venue for escapism, learning, distraction, self-improvement, and fellowship. Book clubs are booming and some independent booksellers are discovering new life. One welcome change: a greater appreciation of multiculturalism is reflected in the subjects and authors of top-selling books.
CHECK OUT: Goodreads, for an online compendium of book reviews, Q&A, reader ratings, and book club fodder.
By all means, enjoy long-missed activities as they re-open safely: ball games, community theater, dining out, an afternoon at the lake. But when the time comes for a quiet evening at home, break out the gourmet popcorn, reach for the streaming remote or the Scrabble board, and settle in for some low-stress, low-cost fun.
Pam Davis is a retired mental health administrator and current writer, consultant, and high-volume/variable-quality media consumer.