HomeTelevisionCouch Potato – 2020: The Year That Changed Television 

Couch Potato – 2020: The Year That Changed Television 

2020 has dramatically altered many aspects of our lives. All around the world, the events of this year have radically impacted people’s education, businesses, livelihood, social lives, relationships, and (most importantly) mental and physical health. In the midst of such major changes, it can be easy to forget how much this year has also affected the ways we consume and make entertainment. We admittedly have much bigger concerns from this year than how television have changed, but the topic is still worthy of some retrospection.

Real world events have not had such an immediate and widespread impact on the television industry since 9/11. Just as the fallout of that tragedy caused television studios to pause production and edit storylines, the coronavirus pandemic and social justice protests from this year forced television networks and streaming services to abruptly end some shows’ seasons, postpone or cancel other shows, add necessary health precautions to each stage of production, and decide whether the events of this year should be acknowledged or incorporated into shows. Some networks had to borrow content from other sources and rely on varieties of shows that were easier to produce. And at least one live action show rather unexpectedly chose to animate its season finale. Television shows are not created in a vacuum but some of them had to be made in bubbles.

Some of these adjustments will no doubt be temporary. As the threat of the pandemic decreases due to vaccines and public health measures, many shows will be written, filmed, edited, and produced just as they had been pre-2020. Precautions and delays for health concerns will gradually become unnecessary. But some changes will likely remain.

The Black Lives Matter Movement will rightly impact how shows depict law enforcement and their interactions with black communities and other minorities for generations. The United States’ reckoning with racial inequality and injustices will continue to influence the stories that are told on television and who will be telling them; the television landscape will continue to become more diverse both in front of and behind the camera. The general trauma of the coronavirus will be explored in fictional, historical, and biographical programs for years to come as we all process this tragedy. The grief and pain the world has experienced throughout this pandemic will continue to fuel our desire to use media like television to escape from and make sense of our world.

2020 will blessedly end soon enough. But I don’t believe television will ever truly be the same. My hope is that the events of this year will inspire the television industry to explore fresh ideas, promote healing, and support justice. Television will continue to play some role in many of our lives, and I sincerely believe that television as a medium can help us cope with, learn from, and grow with the many trials we’ve endured in 2020.

Josh Sarnecky
Josh Sarnecky
Josh Sarnecky is one of Pop Break's staff writers and covers Voltron: Legendary Defender, Game of Thrones, and Stranger Things. His brother, Aaron, also writes for the website, but Josh is the family’s reigning Trivial Pursuit: Star Wars champion.

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