📈 Barbie Girl, Atomic World

We’re missing our shows, finding the right words, and losing our summer blockbuster cool

Welcome to Trendlines!

If you’re anything like us, the end of the summer can sneak up on you. That list of things you planned on tackling seemed reasonable when you had three months. It’s a lot less manageable with only three weeks to go. Luckily, unlike when you put off reading The Catcher in the Rye until the day before 6th grade and had to stay up all night, there isn’t really any deadline to patch the hole in your roof or remove the lead paint from the baby’s room.

Instead, plan some time to tackle these important summer tasks:

  • Make friends with writers and actors down at the picket line.

  • Learn it’s okay to judge an idiom by its cover.

  • Head to the drive-in to catch two movies which we will collectively call… wait for it… #Oppenbarbie.

Enjoy reading.


Lights, Camera, Strike!

From the COVID-19 pandemic to extreme inflation, Americans have persevered through some tough times in recent years. For many, coping took the form of binge-watching shows like Tiger King and Squid Game. But now with the SAG and WGA on strike, and our favorite TV shows in jeopardy (except Jeopardy!), Americans may have to resort to actually becoming meth-addict tiger overlords to stay entertained.

While most Americans (60%) watch more than 10 hours of TV each week, viewing hours are not evenly distributed across the generations. Boomers (74%) and Gen Xers (68%) are significantly more likely to consume 10+ hours of TV a week compared to Millennials (49%) and Gen Zers (34%). Maybe we should have clarified that watching shows on a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or VR headset still counts as TV.

Not only do generations differ in their TV consumption, but also their feelings about the Hollywood strikes. Compared to other age groups, Boomers (51%) are significantly more likely to say they are “not upset at all” about the recent strikes among entertainment workers. Millennials (27%), in contrast, are the generation most likely to be upset about the strike. Boomers: “Who needs writers when Murder She Wrote and Matlock reruns are on 24/7?”

The generations are also at odds when it comes to assigning blame for the strikes—Boomers (39%) are more than twice as likely to blame the changing landscape of the entertainment industry (e.g., streaming, digital, AI) compared to Gen Zers (18%). Conversely, 42% of Gen Zers are significantly more likely to blame the entertainment industry than Boomers (18%). Millennials are just happy not to be the ones being blamed for an industry in turmoil for once.

Boomers (13%) are also less likely than Millennials (29%) and Gen Zers (35%) to want the labor unions to come out on top of the negotiations. Younger generations are still holding out for the unreleased episode of Matlock where he finds out the corporations were the real villain all along.

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Don’t Wanna Be an American Idiom

Let’s not beat around the bush: As a company that prides ourselves on our originality and snarky wit, we wouldn’t dare rely on the same tired phrases and references that everybody else overuses.

It’s a small world, but you’d still be hard-pressed to find anyone this dedicated to having their cake (unrelenting, self-referential, pun-based commentary with a heavy dose of idioms) and eating it too (doing so in a way that is informed by data-driven insights).

That’s why we decided to spin up a MaxDiff experiment to uncover the most and least overused idioms. Full disclosure, we also wanted to at least appear slightly less boring at parties, so we’re selfishly (and strictly metaphorically) killing two birds with one stone.

Welp, apparently even us know-it-alls sometimes have to bite the bullet and accept that, without seeing the data, we can look like straight-up idiomts for three whole newsletter paragraphs. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is the most overused idiom, while “Spill the tea” is the most underused. We get it, Americans, you just want to gossip instead of actually doing this month’s book club reading.

To rub salt in the wound of (mis)used idioms, the elephant in the room is that they can be especially difficult to understand for non-native English speakers. Among the 9% of Americans for whom English isn’t their first language, 39% found at least one of the idioms we tested to be completely incomprehensible (compared to 29% among those who primarily speak English).

Needless to say, we think being intentional about one’s use of language is the best thing since sliced bread.

Want to see the data? Curious about the methodology? Just reply to this email.


Barbie Girl, Atomic World

If you spend any time online, you’ve probably seen #Barbenheimer trending on Meta (er, Facebook), Twitter (um, X), or Pinterest (still Pinterest, for now). However, for those lucky enough to be unplugged from social media an explanation is probably necessary. Barbenheimer is watching the movies Barbie and Oppenheimer on the same day, possibly in the same theater.

Who would do this to themselves? Apparently, 27% of all people who want to see both movies in the theater plan to see or have already seen them together as part of a Barbenheimer double feature. For those uninterested in a double feature, runtime is the main blockenheimer, as a plurality (43%) say they are turned off by the eye-watering total length of 4 hours and 54 minutes (that’s 1.21 Snyder Cuts).

That’s a wrap, folks

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About Gradient

Gradient is a cross-functional team of industry analysts, market researchers, data scientists, technologists, and storytellers who help organizations uncover missed opportunities, find new layers of clarity, and pioneer new directions with confidence and statistical integrity. We work with startups, Fortune 100 brands, consulting firms, and political campaigns.

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