Should TV, movies, and books reference the pandemic, or ignore it?

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
January 25, 2022, 9:26 PM GMT+0

Creators of Americans’ go-to entertainment options — television shows, movies, and books — have been faced with a conundrum since the start of the pandemic: Should they acknowledge the realities of life during COVID-19 and incorporate the virus into their storylines, or provide their audience an escape by ignoring it altogether?

A recent YouGov poll posed this question to U.S. adults and found that one in four (26%) prefer that shows, movies, and books set since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic include references to it, while 28% say they should ignore it. Almost half of Americans (46%) say they have no preference on the issue or are not sure.

Americans’ opinions on whether the pandemic should be referenced in entertainment vary based on whether they are taking precautions related to COVID-19. Those who said that they hadn’t worn a mask in the past month in another recent YouGov poll are far less supportive of TV shows, movies, and books referencing the virus. Six in ten Americans who hadn’t worn a mask in the past month say that the pandemic should be ignored in entertainment media, compared to only 6% who say it should be referenced.

Attitudes are also split according to political party identification. Democrats (37%) tend to say that entertainment should include references to the pandemic rather than not (14%). Republicans, on the other hand, are more likely to say that entertainment should ignore the pandemic (45%) rather than include references to it (17%).

See the crosstabs from this YouGov Poll

Methodology: YouGov surveyed 6,335 U.S. adults for a poll on January 13-14, 2022. The samples were weighted to be representative of the U.S. population, based on gender, age, race, education, U.S. census region, and political party.

Image: Getty

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