Article by Broede Carmody /
The Sydney Morning Herald /
December 10, 2020 /
Click here to view original /
An entitled American in Paris, a martial arts protege, an eccentric tiger keeper and a chess prodigy – these are the characters that have kept us company during COVID-19.
We have been streaming more television than ever since the coronavirus pandemic hit, and now Netflix Australia has revealed which shows we’ve sunk the most socially-distanced hours into.
The Queen’s Gambit, a rousing coming-of-age mini-series starring Anya Taylor-Joy as an orphan who becomes a chess sensation, has been crowned the most popular TV drama of 2020.
Darren Starr’s glossy Emily in Paris might have had the French choking on their croissants thanks to Lily Collins’ portrayal of an American discovering her joie de vie, but that didn’t stop the show from becoming the best watched comedy.
When it came to movies, Enola Holmes (a Sherlock Holmes spinoff starring Millie Bobby Brown) was the most popular drama; Extraction, with homegrown talent Chris Hemsworth in the lead role, was most popular action film and American Murder: The Family Next Door was the most popular feature-length documentary.
Netflix measured the popularity of its titles from January through to the end of last month, which explains why season four of The Crown, wasn’t knighted best drama.
The streaming giant also revealed how Australian viewing habits changed after coronavirus lockdowns were established.
The data shows anime viewing surged 90 per cent in the middle of the year compared to January and February. This can be partly explained by the fact that Netflix Australia snapped-up the streaming rights to 21 Studio Ghibli films earlier in the year.
Average viewing hours for thrillers jumped 70 per cent, while Korean dramas and reality TV were both up by 40 per cent. Overall, Netflix Australia recorded a 15 per cent increase in average monthly viewing hours over the same period across all genres and categories.
Pop culture expert Dr Lauren Rosewarne, from the University of Melbourne, suspects shows such as The Queen’s Gambit and Emily in Paris performed well in Australia because their lightness offered an escape from the challenges of coronavirus.
“Both are relatively uncomplicated. Neither are disturbing or depraved or offering up content that will only add to our 2020 woes,” Dr Rosewarne said.
“In a year where Australians have been stuck at home and unable to use our passports, both series offered us vicarious travel to exotic locations. [To] add to this, we got to ogle glamorous fashions observed while we are at home in pyjamas.”
Dr Rosewarne said it was also noteworthy that women were the protagonists in the most popular comedy series and the top-rating drama.
“Female-centred narratives are doing well in a climate where we’re becoming increasingly concerned about representation and diversity,” she said.