2019 as Googled by South Africans

Game of Thrones provided much to talk about at the water coolers
Game of Thrones provided much to talk about at the water coolers

Every year Google handles billions of searches.

Earlier this week, the search enginereleased the results of its 2019 Year in Search, which provides unique insight into the year’s top trends based on searches conducted in South Africa. Searches varied – from popculture to sports and politics – inevitably showing that searchers have a keen interest in world affairs and the people around them.

According to Google, most South African searches were very similar to what the rest of the world searched for online.

The results of top trending TV shows for this year showed that television lovers have a keen interest in international content that is made available almost as quickly as it’s aired in the US.

Top of the list was one of the biggest TV shows to ever grace the small screen – Game of Thrones – which premiered its eighth and final season this year.

Another one of HBO’s seminal shows, the historical drama series Chernobyl, was the second most googled show.


What made Game of Thrones such a hit?

The show’s steadiness in providing fantastical elements that offer viewers escapism as well as the human connections and emotions that resonate with people while watching the cult-like show.

The fantasy drama, based on George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, became the biggest show of the decade, smashing all-time records for viewership figures, awards and production budgets.

USA Today called it “the defining pop cultural experience of the millennial generation”. “As a cultural phenomenon, Thrones is as impossible to escape as Star Wars or Marvel films,” it said.

The Chernobyl miniseries dramatises the story of the 1986 nuclear accident – one of the worst man-made catastrophes in history. It also tells the story of the brave men and women who made incredible sacrifices to save Europe from unimaginable disaster. Listing Chernobyl on its Best TV Shows of the Decade, Collider.com says: “Chernobyl is masterful in its storytelling, as it shines a spotlight on the domino effect of what happens when a government values its own agenda over human lives.”

That Chernobyl’s premiere in May this year wasn’t completely drowned out by the Game of Thrones final season frenzy is in itself a testament to the strength of the show.

As Vanity Fair put it in its roundup of The 10 Best TV Shows of this year, Chernobyl “is not just excellent television; it’s paradigm-shifting historical storytelling, the kind of tale that alters, ever so subtly, the texture of the real world”.

Locally, South Africans also searched for teasers of their favourites such as The Queen, Uzalo, Skeem Saam and Scandal!

Gugu Zuma-Ncube, the star behind the scenes of the country’s most watched show, Uzalo, oversaw the dethroning of Mfundi Vundla’s long-running soapie Generations and Generations: The Legacy.

Uzalo, which focuses on the KwaMashu community in Durban where people’s lives revolve around a local church and the ever-present fear of crime, claimed the top spot.

“It feels awesome. I feel very proud of Uzalo. We were able to do some cool stuff. Getting to number one in our first year was pretty amazing, as was getting those sorts of TV history records that we have,” Zuma-Ncube told City Press in an earlier interview.

“We’ve just come off last month [in October] in which we hit 10.4 million viewers – another record. We had six episodes last month that went to more than 10 million [viewers].”

The overall top 10 trending searches in South Africa were load shedding, election results, Thanos, the Independent Electoral Commission, Fiona Viotti, Black Friday specials, Gavin Watson, Marc Batchelor, Teachers’ Day and Hoërskoel Driehoek.

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