Real talk: 2021 has been an incredible year for entertainment. Month after month, we devoured shows and movies that spanned across multiple genres, from bone-chilling crime thrillers to raunchy teen comedies. And fortunately, the industry is making some serious headway in terms of representation on-screen. But now, as the year draws to a close, we’re anticipating another lineup of great content, and with it, a new wave of entertainment trends. Keep reading to see my biggest predictions, from diversity behind the camera to the launch of new streaming services.
10 Entertainment Trends That Are Going to Be Huge in 2022, According to an Editor
1. Riding The Wave Of Nostalgia
Like it or not, the age of reboots, sequels and spin-offs is far from over, all thanks to Hollywood’s clever decision to monetize nostalgia. For instance, there’s Peacock’s revival of Saved by the Bell, ABC’s reboot of The Wonder Years and Netflix’s gender-swapped version of She’s All That. Do they all live up to their predecessors? Not quite. But according to Jason Davids Scott, interim director of The Sidney Poitier New American Film School, it won’t stop Hollywood from rolling out more reboots that follow the same formula and evoke feelings of nostalgia.
He told The State Press, "The history of show business is a history of recreating stories in new forms with new bodies. We crave the familiar in a way that seems immediate and new."
This certainly explains the reboot lineup for 2022, which already includes remakes of How I Met Your Mother, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Frasier and The Flintstones. Sounds like Hollywood will continue to rake in cash as they take fans down memory lane...
2. The Rise Of Raunchy Comedy
Shows and films that explore adult themes with R-rated humor are nothing new, but the genre has clearly garnered more attention in 2021. And something tells us this is just the beginning.
For example, Hulu’s Plan B, which follows one girl’s efforts to find a Plan B pill after a sexual encounter, includes full-frontal nudity, sexting and masturbation. Bad Trip, which chronicles the misadventures of BFFs as they prank strangers on a road trip, is loaded with crass humor and bold sexual references. And of course, Netflix’s raunchy progressive series, Sex Education, dives into a number of deep issues that relate to sex, from experimentation to sexual identity, but with a fun twist.
Considering the genre’s growing popularity, it looks like more fans will get a voyeuristic kick out of raunchy new titles that are equal parts funny and compelling.
3. Content Without Barriers
Although international shows and films have been slowly gaining momentum in the U.S., they’ve mostly remained on the outskirts of American entertainment. However, the success of Bong Joon-ho’s Korean-language film, Parasite, marked a huge turning point for international and non-English titles.
Throughout 2021, we saw the rise of several binge-worthy foreign shows, from Netflix's drama-filled Spanish teen series, Elite, to its gripping French mystery thriller, Lupin—which broke the platform’s top ten list in just four days. Netflix's Spanish crime show, Money Heist, also became a hit, since it was more in-demand than 99.6 percent of all drama titles in the U.S. And of course, there’s the South Korean survival drama, Squid Game, which made history as Netflix’s most-watched show debut ever.
Surely, streaming platforms will take a hint and treat fans to even more international content in the coming year.
4. Streaming Services Galore
We all know about streaming giants like Netflix, Hulu and Prime Video, but not too many are aware that more niche streaming platforms are on the rise. For instance, there’s Crunchyroll, an anime and manga streamer that surpassed five million subscribers this year. And there’s Britbox, a fairly new streaming service that was launched in 2017, which has already surpassed two million subscribers. Not to mention Dekkoo, the place for LGBT+ content; Criterion, a service for classic movie buffs; and ALLBLK, the destination for exclusive Black TV and film. And these examples only scratch the surface.
At this rate, we’ll probably see at least a dozen new streaming services by the end of 2022.
5. It’s All About (nuanced) Black Women
A variety of stunning Black women have graced our screen this year, but more importantly, they presented complex characters who represent real-life women. Issa (Issa Rae), AKA “Ms. Gives No F**ks,” from HBO’s Insecure is awkward and messy, but also creative and ambitious. Angie from Harlem is a gorgeous plus-sized singer, who’s spirited and delightfully funny. And Bow from Black-ish is an educated mom who mastered the art of balancing her career and family.
They’re confident, capable, resilient and strong. But more importantly, they’re multifaceted. Here’s hoping we’ll see even more authentic portrayals of Black women in 2022.
6. Time For Older Women To Shine
We can appreciate a good film or series that tackles the ups and downs of adolescence and early adulthood. But let’s be honest: There aren’t too many stories that focus on older women who are in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Fortunately, it looks like Hollywood is now trying to fill that gap. Julie Delpy's On the Verge follows four successful friends in their 50s who don't have everything figured out. Prime Video’s new comedy, Harlem, centers on Black 30-somethings as they try to balance love and their careers. And lucky for Sex and the City fans, HBO just released And Just Like That, which follows Carrie Bradshaw and the gang as they try to navigate life in their 50s.
Will comedies continue to highlight older women? We definitely think so.
7. Disney Stays Woke
After facing criticism for lack of diversity in their films, Disney has started to step it up. In September 2021, the company launched Reimagine Tomorrow, an initiative that, according to their site, aims to “[amplify] underrepresented voices and untold stories,” as well as “[champion] the importance of accurate representation in media and entertainment.” Plus, in 2021 alone, we saw a DCOM featuring the first-ever Indian American lead, Marvel's first film with an Asian lead and the first deaf superhero. Keep it up, Disney!
8. Original Docuseries Are Here To Stay
Two words, folks: Tiger King. Not only did it become a cultural phenomenon, but it also paved the way for a string of eye-opening documentaries. Other standouts include HBO’s The Vow, which takes a deeper look at the NXIVM cult, and Netflix’s Night Slaker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer, where two detectives race against the clock to catch a deadly criminal. Since millions have become so taken by these engrossing true stories, we expect to see even more of these docuseries in the coming year.
9. Podcasts Are The New Radio
According to Podcast Insights, a whopping 155 million Americans (AKA 55 percent of the population) has listened to a podcast—up from 51 percent in 2019. And according to the Pew Research Center, radio listenership has been slowly declining since 2011 (by ten percent, to be exact).
The site also estimates that there are more than 2 million podcasts and 48 million episodes, so yes, it may seem like new podcasts are getting launched every day. But there are plenty of eager listeners. Expect that total number to skyrocket by the end of 2022.
10. Representation Behind The Camera Matters
Very little attention is paid to those who work behind-the-scenes, but it's worth noting that diversity behind the camera is just as important as diversity in front of it. Darnell Hunt, UCLA’s dean of social sciences and co-author of the UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report, revealed that audiences gravitate towards shows that have more inclusive teams. He explained, "We have seen this appetite for diverse content repeated over the history of our analyses. The fact that shows with diverse writers’ rooms did well last year also illustrates that audiences are looking for authentic portrayals."
Thankfully, Hollywood is making some progress. Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon boasts an all-female technical leadership team. Plus, Simu Liu, who starred in Marvel’s Shang Chi, credited the movie’s diverse production staff for its success. He told NBC, “[It] all directly impacted the way that our story was told, and allowed it to be told with the level of nuance and authenticity that it has been.”
Keep the momentum going, Hollywood.