Film and TV were hit particularly hard by the onset of the pandemic last year, as national lockdowns across the globe forced cinemas to close their doors and big budget productions to shut down entirely. While 2021 has seen a return to business as usual – albeit with stringent Covid safety precautions in place – the events of the last 18 months have clearly impacted the nature of the industry and people’s viewing habits on a deeper level. Some of the most popular shows of the year range from the joyous and uplifting (think Sex Education’s lighthearted examination of horny teenagers) to pure escapism (Netflix’s luxury retail series Selling Sunset is so OTT opulent that it almost doesn’t count as a reality show).
On the other end of the spectrum, Jack Thorne’s hard-hitting drama Help marked one of the first attempts to unravel our pandemic experience in the cultural realm. Set in a fictional care home in Liverpool but based on the very real events of last year, the heart-wrenching one-off drama starred Jodie Comer as a carer and Stephen Graham as a patient with Alzheimer’s disease.
But there were many other storylines to unravel in 2021 too. Here, we delve into some of the other major film and TV trends that emerged this year: