Gen Z’s Quarantine “Must Watch:” What It Says About Us

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My Netflix account has never been more in use than in the past 60-something days that I’ve been under quarantine. What else am I supposed to do if I can’t leave my house? Exercise? Read? Write articles for a website dedicated to the Gen Z perspective? Obviously not. The only choice I have left in life is to station myself on my family room’s couch for hours at a time marathoning anything and everything possible while spooning pints of ice cream in my mouth. Don’t lie. I know you’ve had a similar experience. Actually, my depressing social life got me thinking: what are other Gen Zers doing while in quarantine? I surveyed over 100 of my friends to find that there were three shows repeated over and over again: Tiger King, All American, and the latest obsession, Outer Banks. 

The first show to take over quarantine was Tiger King. An American true crime Netflix Original docuseries, Tiger King uncovered the insane world of big cat breeding and the secrets of affluent zoo owners. One of my favorite shows of all times, Tiger King provides endless entertainment. There is never a dull moment with its eccentric cast of characters. Outspoken, loud, and dramatic, Tiger King’s divas are never not plotting or scheming. Throughout the show, the plot thickens, roping in unimaginable felonies and rivalry. The underworld of tiger breeders is darker and more complex than we would’ve ever known without this series! However, not only was it entertaining, but informative about the mistreatment of big cats. We learn from the documentation of illegal tiger breeding and trading that the animals are not given proper diets or space. They are confined to cramped cages and fed expired Walmart meat. Big cats are used to rake in profit and media coverage, when they are meant to be roaming and hunting in the wild. Trending all over the nation, Tiger King highlights the negative aspects of “conservations” that go on behind the scenes. 10/10 would recommend it!

The second Netflix show to blow up during quarantine was All American, especially with female viewers. What’s not to love? American football with a very attractive cast! The visuals are impressive, but the focal point is the plot. Every single episode keeps you on your toes. (No spoilers!) I became emotionally invested in each character and their struggles. Whether one hails from Beverly Hills or the projects of South Crenshaw, everyone is fighting their own battles. All American explores important issues such as gang violence, police brutality, and teenage drug abuse. The raw, fictionalized yet accurate account of American teenagers humbles the viewer. In an article for Variety magazine, the show’s creator Nkechi Okoro Carroll stated that she wanted to raise awareness for teen struggles by bringing their stories to mainstream media.The representation of Gen Z is what makes the show so appealing: We see a little bit of ourselves in each character. We’re all imperfect, and we all have our struggles, but we are never alone. Definitely an 8.5/10!

Netflix TV sensation Outer Bankers is blowing up, especially among Gen Z-ers, since its release only three weeks ago. We quickly abandoned All American’s football aesthetic for that of the surfer life of the Outer Banks, “paradise on earth.” OBX provides not only the story of an entertaining teenage treasure hunt for hundreds of millions of dollars worth in gold, but also engaging social commentary on the gap between social classes living very different lives in the same community. The lower or middle class “Pogues” live their lives recklessly with no thought for tomorrow. A close-knit group of four teenagers, the central Pogues must rely on only each other when faced with difficult situations. However, on the other side of town, the “Kooks,” or the elite, can mess up as many times as they please and still have the money and power to send them off to college or evade a jail cell. When a dead body turns up and it’s the poor vs. the rich, the words of the elite carry more weight despite there being no truth in them. Yes, Outer Banks was an entertaining and dramatized journey of five teens, but its real merit lies in its exposition of a divided class system prevalent throughout the United States today. I love this show with all of my heart— a definite 9/10! 

The latter two in a series of crowd pleaser Netflix shows speak volumes in their popularity with Gen Z. But why? It seems obvious enough — the shows’ storylines about the teenage experience resonate with Gen Z. But the appeal of All American and Outer Banks is even greater at this moment in time because of the very nature of self-quarantine. Being held to social distancing and quarantining in the midst of this pandemic, the vast majority of Gen Z-ers have not seen their friends for almost two months. All the over-the-top partying and valuable time spent with friends that is associated with the  end of the school year has been stripped away from us.It is vital to society right now that we stay in our homes, away from our friends, however we must not underestimate the struggle that quarantine poses for teens. I have not had any interactions with people my age since I began  social distancing almost two months ago. Diving into TV shows about breathtaking high school adventures, spirit, and romance is a welcome escape from being stuck at home all day and missing our friends. Living vicariously through characters that remind us of our friends and ourselves bring us happy memories during this challenging time. So, to all of you Gen Z-ers who haven’t watched yet—get to binging!

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