16 June, 2023
Conversations centred on the newest season of a hit series or the latest blockbusters are a staple of offices, homes and pubs alike. Clearly, film and TV is not only a significant pastime but has a powerful grip on the attention of the nation.
It’s therefore no surprise how it influences the public conversation and how powerful stories can inspire and create change. But one element where we’re lacking the inspiration we need is climate change. This has been quantified by an annual survey and report from BAFTA’s sustainability arm, albert, which analysed subtitling data from UK broadcasters and sure enough ‘climate change’ is referred to less frequently than ‘Shakespeare’, ‘rat’ and ten times less frequently than ‘cake’. In the year we were all at home watching Tiger King, cats were cited four times more than this – literally – burning issue.
And while this report does highlight some good case studies of documentary-style productions covering sustainability issues, there’s a real lack of positive narratives around sustainability in the entertainment industry, as we wrote about in a recent issue of Friday 5.
So we were excited to come across a new Netflix series, Unstable, which does what we’ve been looking for, exploring some exciting biotech innovations (that do largely exist in reality) including sugarcane-based plastics and carbon-sequestering concrete. It’s primarily a comedy, and a decent one at that, but with a sustainability theme running through it. And it stars Rob Lowe, so what is not to love?
Powerful blockbusters like Don’t Look Up have their place in getting people talking about climate issues, but we’re looking forward to sitting down and enjoy high quality dramas exploring climate issues in more subtle, normalised and ultimately relatable ways.
By Patrick Bapty