TikTok trends spark popularity of new television releases


Image sourced from variety.com

Makiya Jones, Staff Writer

The trend cycle lifespan has ranged from a few months to a couple of years as seen with the slick-back ponytail, skinny jeans, dances and style aesthetics. Following these trends comes either a resurgence back into the world or a nostalgic time when reflecting on the past. As TikTok’s popularity increased during the height of the pandemic, so did users’ accessibility to various topics in the media or opinion-based, creating an algorithm specific for each person based on interests. The ability for people to obtain information at such an immediate rate has diminished the longevity trends once carried out and has reduced their spans to merrily a few days up to a couple of weeks.

At the beginning of 2022, HBO Max released the second season of its original series, “Euphoria.” The premiere of season two brought in around 19 million viewers compared to its previous season, which received around 6 million viewers, taking the spot as the “second-most watched show” on the platform since “Game of Thrones.” The latest season averaged around 16.3 million viewers per episode from Jan. 9 to Feb. 27, also referred to as “Euphoria Sundays.” The series created a new wave of attention on TikTok that involved theories and opinions relating to the most recent episodes, makeup replications and re-enactment of scenes. Aside from the discussion entered a new trend relating to the series’ theme of fashion as people created outfits inspired by the show titled “What I Would Wear at Euphoria High.”

Sharing the spotlight with the HBO hit series was the second part of the Japanese anime “Attack on Titan: Final Season,” where the anticipated manga adaptation returned on the same day. The manga written by Hajime Isayama in 2009 was converted into an anime series in 2013 with a four-year break before the second season was released. The anime broke the record for being the most popular show in the U.S. in 2021 and continued to hold that title as the top-rated anime by the end of 2022. The manga itself has sold over 100 million copies, becoming the 15th best-selling manga and also reached upwards of 10 million views on YouTube for the opening credit sequence from the show’s latest season. Watchers of “Attack on Titan” created skits or drawings after every episode and formed theories based on clues trying to connect newly aired scenes to events from prior seasons, all under the hashtag “aots4,” which has gained around 529.9 million views on the app.

After years of trying, director Hwang Dong-hyuk received the “go ahead” from Netflix to produce “Squid Game” where the show acquired approximately 1.65 billion viewing hours after 28 days on the streaming platform. Later, the Korean hit-drama reached a total of 2.29 billion hours, thereby earning the title as the first series to hit the mark of receiving 1 billion viewing hours.

The doll from “Red Light, Green Light,” Young-hee, became the background to many users’ TikTok videos as they reenacted the game from episode two. Ppopgi, or the Dalgona challenge, led many to make the Korean sugar candy, placing either a star, umbrella, circle or triangle mold on the surface and attempting to carve out the shape without breaking it.

Apart from recreating scenes, a collective wave of sadness spaned across viewers after a game of marbles in the sixth episode: the betrayal of Ali Abdul by his partner and former ally Cho Sang-woo. Model HoYeon Jung played a part in this, whose character, Kang Sae-byeok, felt unwilling to accept her win against her partner, Ji-yeong, who turned the match in favor of Sae-byeok. The popularity of “Squid Game” influenced well-known YouTuber, MrBeast, to create his own replica of the show, costing around $3.5 million. He brought in 456 people, much like the show’s plot, to compete for $456,000. Once released, this video received around 158.2 million views.

The Netflix phenomenon “Stranger Things” released its fourth season by splitting the episode releases, compared to the full drop that the streaming service usually does. The science-fiction show reached 930 million viewing hours within the first four weeks of its release, with an additional 301 million hours after Part Two dropped, propelling the series into the 1 billion hours hall of fame. They reached a total of 1.7 billion at the time of writing, second to the platform’s Korean survival drama “Squid Game.”

The first part of “Stranger Things” season four circulated across TikTok, leading with a scene out of the first episode where series newcomer Eddie Munson is attempting to disrupt a trance placed on Chrissy, a cheerleader at Hawkins High. The lines, “Chrissy, wake up! I don’t like this,” were remixed and used by those on the app over scenarios that corresponded with the sound. Later in the fourth episode, Sadie Sink’s character Max is placed under the same curse as Chrissy by the season’s antagonist Vecna, escaping his lair by hearing her favorite song, “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)”  by Kate Bush. Those on TikTok became invested, sampling their favorite song or another song that evoked a happy memory as if they too, were in the same position.

In late November 2022, “Wednesday” starring Jenna Ortega, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Luis Guzman, Gwendoline Christie and the original Wednesday herself, Christina Ricci, was released on Netflix.  The show accumulated over 341.23 million viewing hours after its premiere, surpassing the fourth season of “Stranger Things” in total hours viewed within a week. This spin-off of a classic held the title of the #1 show for five weeks after its debut. In addition to the show’s attention, a Russian figure skater, Kamila Valieva, performed Ortega’s “Wednesday Dance” as a feature piece in her routine. She included the original music from the show “Goo Goo Muck” by The Cramps that later transitioned to “Bloody Mary” by Lady Gaga, a song used for the dance in many TikTok videos.

The power of social media has played a longtime role in the influence of trends, determining what content is notable for going viral. As shows like “Attack on Titan” and “Stranger Things” are nearing the end, Netflix originals “Wednesday” and “Squid Game” along with the HBO Max drama “Euphoria” have all been renewed for another season. Aside from the critical perspective, it’s important to consider how the reviews and engagement from the audience play a role in the success of a show.