Popular Media Trends of 2020


Ezinne O., Sports editor

2020 was a year of many things. Things that can only be described as crazy, chaotic, unusual, and bizarre. Despite this, we also saw both touching moments and funny ones. It was also a year where the internet flourished and became our lives, immersing us in the crazy and funny melting pot of the media. Yes, the media took center stage in 2020 helping some people keep their hopes up, kill time, or have the chance to laugh a little despite all the scariness going on in the world. Out of the pandemic, many trends were born, ranging from entertaining, to funny, to everything in-between.  We’ve compiled a list of nine of the most memorable and entertaining media trends in 2020!

Although many TV series were delayed due to the pandemic, many of us still discovered both new and old TV shows that became fan favorites in 2020.

Cobra Kai – For those who remember the film The Karate Kid which was released in 1984, Cobra Kai is the reboot of that movie, featuring many of The Karate Kid’s former characters including Daniel Larusso and Johnny Lawrence. The series came to Netflix in 2018 but boomed in popularity in 2020 (possibly because quarantine caused many people to experience extreme boredom). The Cobra Kai series follows Miguel who is bullied and therefore enlists the help of Johnny to teach him karate. However, what starts as training turns into an all-out war between karate dojos, rekindling the rivalry between Mr. Larusso and Johnny.

Avatar the Last Airbender and the Legend of Korra – These two TV series are a bit old, with the original series having been released in 2005 and the spinoff released in 2012. However, both continue to maintain a strong fan base that even time cannot change. In mid-summer, the two Nickelodeon series were brought to Netflix and instantly hit the top 10 charts (where they stayed for the majority of the summer). The series follows a nation divided into the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. The Earth, Air, and Water nations are at war with the Fire nation which has grown to be overpowering. The only person who can stop the war is a young boy who can control all the elements since he is the Avatar. The spinoff follows life after the war, with the new Avatar trying to heal the divide and spread peace across the nations as she also fights to protect her nation. 

The Mandalorian – Originally released in 2019, the Mandalorian gained popularity following the release of season two on Disney+ on October 30th, 2020. It is a part of the Star Wars franchise and is set five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, but 25 years before The Force Awakens. The series follows a lone gunfighter and bounty hunter and his trials and tribulations after the fall of the Empire. The protagonist goes on discovering different reaches of the galaxy far from the rule of the New Republic. According to Variety, the Mandalorian was the most-watched show across all streaming services in November, even surpassing some of Netflix’s most-watched shows.

We also had some popular movies which came to streaming services despite all the chaos going. 

Hamilton – On July 3rd the long-anticipated Broadway musical Hamilton came to Disney+. The musical is a combination of singing and rapping and it tells the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton, his rise from poverty to power, and the ongoing war for American independence. Viewership of Hamilton on Disney+ exceeded live audience viewership as about 2.7 million households tuned in to watch the recorded musical on Disney+. Although it may not have been the same as watching it live, the recorded Hamilton gave us a small piece of Broadway to hold on to as hope.

In 2020, we also had music, one of the things that has been getting us through the pandemic. 

Blinding Lights – We had many popular songs in 2020 that became Tik Tok trends or helped us stay hopeful in dark times. Blinding lights was both a trend and a symbol of hope for many. Blinding lights by the Weekend has one billion plays on Spotify, and it even found a place on Tik Tok for some time. It later went on to become the number one most played song of 2020.

More than ever, social networking in 2020 was critical to the sanity of many people., Not only did it help many people in terms of keeping hope, connecting with family, and continuing our education, it also gave us something to smile about.

Tik Tok – Even if you don’t have Tik Tok, you have probably heard about it. Tik Tok was created in 2016 and has since gained increasing popularity not only in the United States but worldwide. Especially in 2020, many people used the platform to spread positivity, get out the vote, voice opinions, and of course, how can we forget the dance challenges that were the little glimmer of hope in a time full of darkness. Of course, some trends made no sense, but I think by a certain point in quarantine, any kind of entertainment could pass as interesting. 

2020 was a pretty good year for gamers because combined with the endless time everyone had on their hands and new interesting games, many people can say they’ve become honorary gamers. 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – In March of 2020, the internet gave us yet another thing to smile about. Popular gaming company Nintendo released a new installation in the popular Animal Crossing series called Animal Crossing: New Horizons. There aren’t many set objectives in the game, but the overall idea is you get to build and run your own island while also paying off the debt on your house, making friends with the locals, collecting island specimens, and more. Given the fact that around this time, many people were starting to realize the downsides of the lockdown and the boredom that came with it, the game was a huge success. The Animal Crossing franchise sold over 26 million copies and broke a record for the most digital units sold in a single month. 

Among Us – Another game that took the internet by storm was Among Us which was released in 2018. It rose to popularity in 2020 due to many factors including its uniqueness, its easy interface, and the basic premise of the game. It’s similar to a murder mystery with a space theme. You and up to nine other players are on a mission in space, however, what you are unaware of is that there are up to three imposters trying to sabotage your mission. You must figure out who the imposters are as you perform airship tasks. If you catch an imposter you can call a meeting to discuss and vote them out. If you’re an imposter, you have the opposite job. You must stay inconspicuous while trying to sabotage the mission and kill off players. Among Us was a perfect game to play in quarantine for those looking for excitement and enjoying some online gameplay. It was commonly streamed on platforms such as Twitch and Youtube. The game was streamed by many celebrities and public figures, including by Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. 

Even book lovers got some surprises in 2020 from the authors of widely famous and loved book series. 

The Hunger Games Ballad of Song Birds and Snakes- The first Hunger Games book was released in 2008. In 2020 the series has still kept a strong fan base. On May 19th, 2020 a fourth book, which is a prelude to the original trilogy, was released, selling more than 500,000 copies. The book follows the early years of Coriolanus Snow, and tells how he became the villain we’ve come to hate in the trilogy. Due to the book’s success, there is an ongoing discussion of a possible fourth movie based on the new book.

If nothing else good came out of 2020, at least pop culture seemed to thrive and gave us something to smile about, along with the heroism of first responders, healthcare workers, and all essential workers. Hopefully, 2021 will be as good- if not better- than 2020 in terms of entertainment, and hopefully, it succeeds in all the areas where 2020 failed.