From the Big Screen to the Phone Screen

From the Big Screen to the Phone Screen

Image and Graphic Design by: Mariah Porto

Written by: Danielle Bass,  Katrina White, Sarah Sheerer

What came first, the chicken or the egg? This brain-teaser has plagued humanity for decades, and still, nobody has a definitive answer. Usually, the chicken-versus-egg debate ends in everyone shrugging their shoulders and agreeing that we’ll never really know.

Similar to the chicken-versus-egg debate, trends influence people and people influence trends — but which one came first? After their releases, HBO’s Euphoria sparked an interest in editorial-style makeup, while Netflix’s Queen’s Gambit inspired people to pick up chess. Bridgerton reintroduced corsets to the fashion industry and Stranger Things made 80s fashion stylish again. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen these trends, but shows have brought them back stronger than ever.

Life Imitates Art

TV shows allow us to imagine a reality beyond what we see every day. After binge-watching more than 10 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy every day, who wouldn’t want to pack their bags and move to Seattle? People want to imitate what they see on screen and want to be more like the characters who resonate with them. Euphoria is the prime example of the media influencing trends and how great of an impact Gen Z has on popular culture. Gen Z felt connected to the show, as it contained scenes of real life events that are often considered taboo to talk about on TV, such as drug addiction, mental health disorders, gender identity, abuse and more.

The “Euphoria effect” has made neon pink eyeshadow more than just something you’ve seen in your mom’s prom picture from the 80s – it’s now an everyday look. Y2K style, I.AM.GIA looks and colorful eye makeup are all trends we might see on our weekly runs to the grocery store. During peak quarantine, viewers had even more time to fall in love with Euphoria, leading Gen Zers to experiment with 2000s fashion and creative makeup while bored at home. In February 2021, searches for “Y2K” and 2000s inspired fashion pieces increased by 80% which is no coincidence. The iconic I.AM.GIA set worn by Euphoria character Maddy Perez became the outfit many Gen Z women wanted to own to feel as powerful as the character herself.

Queen’s Gambit is yet another Netflix series that moved the pawns of social media almost instantly after its release. The series broke Netflix’s record for most streams of a limited series, with 62 million households watching within the first 28 days. Not only did it break records, but it also changed the way people thought about chess and revived the chess industry that had been stagnant for years. According to EBay, within the first 10 days of Queen’s Gambit’s release, there was a 273% rise in sales of chess sets and a spike in users on chess.com. This comeback was also sparked by the TikTok algorithm, which develops micro-communities that automatically place users in groups based on specific trends and niche interests. When Queen’s Gambit was first released, #queensgambit not only featured funny and relatable videos about the Netflix show, but also video tutorials on how to become a master like fictional character Beth Harmon. A whole micro-community of experienced and amateur chess players were connected because of the show. You never know, the next chess prodigy may get their start on TikTok. 

Beth Harmon was celebrated as a feminist icon across social media platforms. Young girls watching the show were striving to be more like Beth, who continuously broke sexist stereotypes episode after episode. Seeing a strong independent female protagonist navigate an activity dominated by men resulted in a spike in female participation as well. Who would have thought chess would be trendy in 2021? 

Chess isn’t the only thing older than Gen Z to make a comeback. The Netflix show Bridgerton started trends that spread across TikTok faster than you can say “renaissance.” Believe it or not, corsets are back in style – it only took a few centuries and a hit Netflix show to bring them back. Weeks after Bridgerton aired at the end of 2020, searches for corsets were up by 123% and searches for empire line dresses were up by 93%. TikTok videos about Bridgerton fantasies and beautiful (DIY) corsets were spreading as the show reached more and more people. Popular shops like Urban Outfitters even began to adopt corsets into modern style and capitalize from their newfound popularity. The regal clothing trend was started by lavish and elegant styles in Bridgerton but evolved into something people can wear every day.

If you’ve been on TikTok for a while, you probably remember the “What I’d Wear If I Were a Kid in Stranger Things” trend, where fans recreate iconic Stranger Things outfits with classic 80s fashion pieces. High top Converse sneakers, denim on denim, graphic tees and mullets popped out of disposables and made a comeback after the show’s release. Even celebrities like Miley Cyrus have been rocking the mullet and graphic tee look. Companies are also taking advantage of the Stranger Things fashion influence through collaborations. Levi’s partnered with the Netflix wardrobe team to develop vintage-inspired pieces for the Levi’s X Stranger Things Collection. All of the pieces in the collection feature inverted tags and patches to represent the “Upside Down” dimension in the show. The popular tech accessory company Casetify also collaborated with Netflix to create products with homages to iconic scenes and hidden easter egg designs. Stranger Things brought the 1980s into 2021 and made the fashion and aesthetic rad again.


Trending With the Click of a Button

Trends spread like wildfire, and social media fuels the flames. Today, Gen Zers use social media as the worldwide word-of-mouth, sharing their honest reviews of products while spreading creative ideas for trends. 

It’s not a secret that social media has blurred boundaries, allowing the world to connect. People learn from each other and spread trends through authentic interactions and creative ideas that are inspired by things seen in the media. The most random post about the new best show can start a trend that changes an entire industry.


Gen Z Ignites the Flame

Social media is the new word of mouth; it takes concepts and activities that were once seen as “taboo” or “weird” and turns them into worldwide trends. As the so-called “iGeneration,” Gen Z is impacted by social media — and thus trends — more than any other generation.

Because of this, Gen Zers have the unique abilities to change culture from the palms of their hands. People can use social media to talk about anything they want, and others might even start to listen. TV shows are something frequently analyzed in the media, including even the makeup and outfits worn. Anyone’s inspiration can set fire to new trends. 

This reach goes beyond just trends: Gen Z impacts industries. From scrunchies and mullets to corsets and regal dresses, TV trends blend into real life to create a new sense of style that reflects current interests and can even revive a product’s relevancy.


Published by: Camille Hagins