Entertainment TV The true power of trendsetting television

The true power of trendsetting television

Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

In episode eight of the latest season of HBO’s Girls, a song by American R&B artist Miguel plays over the credits.

The song, called Simplethings, is merely a well-chosen backing track, yet, since its debut on the show, the song has had nearly 300,000 views on YouTube. A quick look at the comments section for the clip and the majority of users proudly declare “GIRLS BROUGHT ME HERE!”

Good television has transportation powers, allowing us to escape to a different world and live through others. Great television takes it one step further and inspires viewers to live like others, propelling fashion trends, catchphrases and actors into the global spotlight.

The Killing

Sarah Lund
Sofie Gråbøl in her famous sweater. Photo: Supplied

Trend: Nordic knitwear

The Danish thriller won just as many fans for its comfy knitwear as it did its tense mysteries. Lead character Sarah Lund (played by Sofie Gråbøl) pioneered the trend with her thick, dorky woollen jumper. Danish and British viewers alike coveted the cosy clothing item, to the point where it sold out! “Everybody wanted that sweater,” Gråbøl told the Guardian. “The company in the Faroe Islands couldn’t keep up.” Gråbøl even gifted royal wife Camilla Parker-Bowles with one of the jumpers during her visit to the show’s set.

Gossip Girl


Trend: Internet abbreviations

The US network CW’s smash hit followed the lives of New York’s elite teenagers in a world where preppy chic ruled and watching polo was a perfectly normal way to spend your weekend. Aside from catapulting Blake Lively to worldwide stardom, Gossip Girl presented a modernised, sexed-up take on what it meant to be young today. The show’s controversial “OMFG” ad campaign was criticised for being overly raunchy, but was also a good reflection of how scriptwriters incorporated internet abbreviations into everyday speech. “OMG” and “WTF” were particular favourites, along with calling your best friends by the first letter of their name.


Trend: Headbands

The show’s “Queen B”, society girl Blair Waldorf, was also top of the class when it came to hair accessories. The preppy princess single-handedly reignited the love for the classic headband with her wide range of embellished, floral, ribbon-topped headgear.

Breaking Bad


Trend: Bryan Cranston

This fiery, beloved show was responsible for the rebirth of lead actor Bryan Cranston’s career. Prior to the show, Cranston starred as Hal, the father in family comedy Malcolm in the Middle. While he enjoyed a solid working life, the actor received little industry recognition. As Walter White (and, later, Heisenberg) he quickly became one of the most well-respected and celebrated actors in the industry.


Trend: Meth

We’re not kidding. Recent reports document a growth in the appearance of blue meth in New Mexico, where the show was set and filmed. The meth on the show (which is actually rock candy) is regarded as pure and high quality given protagonist Walter White’s chemistry expertise. Less knowledgeable meth dealers are keen to mimic the product, an exercise which is extremely misleading and dangerous. According to US authorities, the additive used to colour the meth is potentially toxic.

Game of Thrones

Sophie Turner with her on-set wolf on Game of Thrones. Photo: HBO

Trend: Wolves as pets

The Stark children on the show grew up with loyal, savage canine babysitters called direwolves. The dogs on the show, which are played by a Northern Inuits, have prompted a growth in the popularity of wolf-like breeds such as Huskies and Malamutes. According to the Daily Mail the temperament of these dogs can often be too much to handle for inexperienced owners and the show has also prompted an increase in the dogs being abandoned or given to shelters. Actress Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark, exacerbated the trend by adopting the dog who plays her direwolf, Lady, on the show.

Mad Men

Actress January Jones lights up as character Betty Draper on “Mad Men”. Photo: AMC

Trend: Smoking

This instant classic, set in a 1960s advertising agency, would be incomplete without the incessant smoking of its lead characters, most notably Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm). While the cast have assured viewers that they smoke herbal cigarettes during filming, the show has oft been criticised for promoting the harmful pastime. Lucky Strike, a well-known cigarette brand which features prominently in the show, has enjoyed a boom in sales since the show started, according to British website The Telegraph.

Anti-smoking campaigners argue that the show’s attractive, powerful cast glamourise the habit, as well as promoting binge drinking through their hard-partying lifestyles. Perhaps the only good thing to come of Mad Men’s culturally accurate representation is the reinvigoration of vintage clothing. Christina Hendricks, we salute you.

View Comments