TV Critic Ameek Gilhotra explores the importance of art and entertainment at this time and how Netflix is altering to fit its growing demand
It is, unfortunately, a fact that COVID-19 has turned the entire world upside down. Many countries are in lockdown, and the U.K. is among them. What isolation means requires no explanation, now that almost every person is familiarized with it, only too well. Among other things we have realized during the outbreak of COVID-19 (like the importance of toilet rolls, human interaction etc.), what that has not gone unnoticed is the impact of art in our lives.
With inhibited social interactions, we are finding an increase in the number of people turning to ‘embodiments of humanity,’ and what comes on the top of the list is art. It is astonishing how people have engaged with different platforms of art, and Netflix remains one of the most prevalent forms of this during the pandemic where art and entertainment combine. It is providing new ways to socialize, such as the Netflix Party.
Netflix Party is a chrome extension, though not everyone can use it, as even Netflix is not free. But, for those who can, it allows people to watch something together, while chatting alongside. Because no matter however much we are glued to our screens, it is unlikely we will all be watching the same show at the same time without this. Netflix Party is the closest thing we have to an open-air cinema with friends, and has provided the sort of entertainment which can be enjoyed ‘together,’ the one sought after the most in these times.
TV is also providing a chance to engage with different spheres of the world. Entertainment is needed now more than ever and many of us have more spare time to watch TV: documentaries, informative shows, adaptations etc. Sitcoms and dramas give a chance for viewers to come back to them, episode after episode, and thus, something to look forward to (this situation stands if you left the sofa in the first place, of course). While many new projects are being cancelled, all-time favourite TV shows of the past are gaining popularity again.
With more people working from home, Netflix and YouTube, among other platforms are reducing their streaming quality. This is being done to reduce pressure so that work goes on with least disruption, but this step would have no consequence if most of us had not turned to entertainment on-screen for our rescue. The importance of art and entertainment is being realised, now more than ever. If nothing else, it is providing a distraction from all the distress around us. As T.S. Eliot said, during this time, we will be ‘Distracted from distraction by distraction.’
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