A Pandemic Through Netflix's Eyes

If you’re anything like me, then your pandemic experience will most likely have been filled with one thing only: endless binge watching. Thanks to industry giant Netflix’s fast-paced release schedule, there’s never been a reason to go without the next great show. Their endless stream of content satisfies the Nation’s cravings and seems to have shaped the very experience of being in a lockdown. In this Netflix-style pandemic retrospective, we’ll be taking a look at some of the shows that were released over the last year. It seems only fair to begin with the one documentary I know holds a special place in everyone’s hearts.

  1. Tiger King

Tiger King burst onto the scene on March 20, 2020, just three days before lockdown began in the UK. Its perfect timing made it the hottest available program for those early pandemic days of fluffy coffees, TikTok dances and overly optimistic press conferences. The insane documentary followed the rivalry between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, and Baskin was accusing Exotic of abusing the big cats situated at his own local zoo. In hindsight, this period of lockdown feels like a fever dream, but one that we all look upon fondly—a strange blur of new hobbies, forced family walks and Joe Wicks workout videos. House party conversations turned to whether or not Carole Baskin really had thrown her husband to the tigers and Twitter conspiracy theorists ate their hearts out. All that’s left behind from this time are the beautiful, blurry memories of moustaches, tiger prints, conspiracies and blueprints for couple’s Halloween costumes that never got to be.

  1. Outer Banks

Outer Banks was released on April 15, 2020, just as the UK was coming to terms with spending a little longer in lockdown than we had originally planned. This sun-filled, adventure-packed show brought us the Vitamin D we so desperately craved and seemed to promise us a summer of fun. This was a time of hope for the UK, a time for communities coming together, of clapping weekly for the NHS and spending nights in the garden, shouting to neighbours about all the things we’d do “once this was over.” The country was brought together in the hope of a summer of freedom, and the spirit of national unity felt strong. Perhaps part of this unity came from the Pogues, the community-orientated characters of Outer Banks. Things may have been difficult, but the promise of some new adventure on the other side definitely helped to lift the spirits of many.

  1. Queen’s Gambit

After a Summer of “Eat Out to Help Out” and a gradual relaxation of lockdown measures, you wouldn’t be blamed for almost believing the pandemic was nearly over. By the time Autumn rolled around, however, the ever-rising virus cases led to the enforcement of a “circuit breaker lockdown,” starting on November 5, 2020. Luckily, to help us through this month-long indoor confinement came the incredible Queen’s Gambit. This stark mini-series was the surprising cure to our lockdown blues. It offered an escape into the intriguingly intense world of chess, a drama no one could have expected, and the darkness of the show mirrored the pessimism everyone felt in the November lockdown. Morale had dipped and discontent was brewing; still, there we were, finding our escape in chess.

  1. Bridgerton

Ah, Bridgerton. The show that almost feels like Wattpad’s answer to Downton Abbey (in the best way). Bridgerton in all its glory arrived wrapped in a bow just in time for Christmas and, of course, lockdown number three. Everyone’s favourite lockdown, lockdown three brought with it a specific set of challenges: bad weather, near-constant darkness and a sense of isolation. Even in the darkness though, there was hope in the form of vaccinations and socially distanced walks, alongside a constant stream of new shows and films. This is where Bridgerton came in, making the once old fashioned promenade the new form of socialising once again. Bridgerton’s popularity could be said to have inspired the recently observed rise of the “Tinder walking date” throughout Durham, during which hopeful singles are escorted throughout town at a careful distance, Regency style. TikTok trends, too, were deeply affected by Bridgerton, with new obsessions for corsets emerging, and plans for balls drawn up for the moment the pandemic subsides. Bridgerton offered an escape from the pervasive feeling that we’d been here before, waiting for another lockdown with rising cases, and that was invaluable.

As much as I’ve loved delving into a new TV-binge every other week, I’m more than ready for some time off-screen. Hopefully, this is where our Netflix list will leave us, although I must say, the promenading thing can stay a little while longer.