Young adults divulge their entertainment behaviors

In Cassandra’s The Media & Entertainment Perspective, we reported that 8 in 10 youth were consuming more: more TV, more movies, more videos, and more music since the onset of the pandemic. Not surprisingly, many young people are bored and bingeing, experimenting with new entertainment experiences (such as new streaming services), trying out new genres (and re-visiting their old favorites), and joining watch parties with friends and family. But what exactly are they watching and why? The insights below are based upon recent conversations from our Cassandra Collective.


Young people are devouring content that offers a glimpse of glamour from pre-pandemic life. From elaborate costume design to cinematography, they are eating up escapist entertainment that boasts premiere production value. Juicy characters and storylines are giving them their fill of drama (which might be absent from their own social lives). Young people are exploring a variety of new entertainment experiences from home and are living vicariously through these characters’ exciting stories on screen.

“The 2 shows I am currently obsessed with are Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist and Bridgerton. My favorite shows to binge are The Crown, Bridgerton, The Great British Bake Off and Avatar.” - Erin, 26, IL

“I'm currently bingeing on Little House on the Prairie.” - Nicole, 27, PA

“I love Stranger Things, Cobra Kai, and On My Block.” - Victor, 15, IL

“I really like watching Korean dramas and I watch them on Dramacool or Netflix.” - Akriti, 15, NY

“My favorite shows to watch are reality shows and reality competition shows like 90 Day Fiancé, Wipeout, and The Real Housewives of Orange County.” - Daphne, 34, CA


Today’s young adults are learning about new entertainment content from a wide variety of sources. Aside from hearing recommendations from friends, family, and platform algorithms, young people are apt to discover entertainment via social media. Whether from Instagram or YouTube advertisements, young people are seeing that advertisements are, actually, hitting the mark. Some young people are also taking this time to dive into their media bucket list, checking off movies and shows they never had the time to tune into pre-pandemic.

“I got into Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist [on NBC/Hulu] after seeing it pop up as an ad on Instagram.” - Erin, 26, IL

“I find new shows to watch through YouTube recommendations. For example, YouTube will show me an anime [genre] opening, and if it sounds good, or I find the style interesting, I go watch it.” - Lance, 14, FL

“A family member recommended Disney+ and bought it for us. We use it a lot.” - Gwen, 17, NC

“I'll look for old shows I never got to watch. Like I've stumbled upon so many great shows from BBC Scotland in the 80s and 90s.” - Indigo, 24, OH

“[I get recommendations] through social media or word of mouth. I trust my friends.” - Brandon, 31, CA


Throughout 2020, media content served a key role in helping young people recover and rebalance from their burnout driven by the pandemic, social injustices, and the election. But as new cultural crises are already infiltrating 2021, young people are seeking much-needed moments of levity. Escapist entertainment, encompassing genres such as comedy and drama, as well as nostalgic favorites from the ‘90s and early 2000’s, comforts young people during this tumultuous time. Another emerging but key area of interest among young adults is media that covers BIPOC and LGBTQ+ stories. In our Race & Equality in Everyday Life report, we explored that young people are craving diverse and inclusive content that reflects their own personal experiences. Indeed, Cassandra found that 72% of U.S. Trendsetters said they want more content that was ethnically and racially diverse.

“I just like any [shows that are] funny and can lighten up the mood.” - Tina, 25, IL

“There is so much going on in this world and it’s nice to get away from it all and just watch an [NBA] game.” - Victor, 15, IL

“I am glad [that Black entertainment] is more widely available so that we can learn as a country. Yes, I am definitely "consuming" it and learning a lot! I am reading books and watching movies and it has been really eye-opening.” - Alex, 27, VA

“I enjoy [entertainment focused on the Black experience], because representation matters.” - Chermaine, 31, GA