Netflix is a streaming service with a platform that allows users to stream a wide variety of movies and tv shows. When Netflix first started out as a company, it was a subscription for movies and Tv shows on DVD’s that were mailed to the customer. Over time, the company evolved to an online streaming platform where anyone with an internet connection could enjoy their service. In today’s North American culture, Netflix has gained much popularity and recognition, and is seen as THE streaming platform above all others. Netflix can be considered a sector of pop culture as it is a trend to be watching the latest, most popular, and classic movies and tv shows on this specific platform. If one were to ask which streaming service another uses, they would most likely say Netflix. It would be seen as unusual if an individual were not using Netflix. As a result, many use Netflix to stream. Netflix has become so popular, that there are even popular songs and sayings that mention this streaming service, such as the phrase “Netflix and Chill”. Therefore, tv shows that are on Netflix can be considered a part of pop culture and we will be analyzing tv shows and their use of typography.
The Umbrella Academy
The Netflix original show Umbrella academy uses a very unique typeface, each letterform is unique and was clearly created specifically for the show. The show revolves around this family of adopted children all born with specific powers, they together form a group called the Umbrella Academy. The show uses the current trend seen in mainstream media and companies and implements the use of iconography. In the 1950’s the use of glyphs started to become more popular in companies and slowly became the new normal, they are now present everywhere. Glyphs have become a way for companies to easily create advertisements and allow individuals to easily recognize the product from the glyph itself, an example of a glyph everyone would know is McDonald’s. Using this trend Umbrella Academy integrates an umbrella into there logo and can be seen in every opening scene for the show. The difference in X heights in the type face is used to lead the eyes up and down, this could have been made to represent the difference in characters as they all have their own traumas and unique personality, yet they still find a way to work together similar to the type where they are all different sizes, yet it comes together to form the title. In season two the characters are teleported into the past; the show takes this into consideration and the stores and posters seen reflect the typeface of the time, today we see more geometric typefaces as seen in logos such as Spotify however the producers acknowledge that in the 1960’s different fonts were more popular and therefore shows it. The trailer for season two shows each character’s name in the same typeface as the title, further adding emphasis to the point that different letterforms being used represents the different personalities of the characters.
Dash and Lilly
The tv show “Dash and Lily” has typography within the tv show poster, trailer, and credits that clearly indicates the qualities and the representation of the characters of the show. One does not necessarily have to watch the show to know what these characters are like. The typeface used for the name Dash is a slab serif with a bold white highlight in the back. This bold typeface goes to show how tough Dash’s character is meant to be. On the other hand, the typeface used for the name Lily appears a bit more delicate in comparison to the “Dash” typeface. More importantly, the name Lily consists of a glyph; a heart. The heart for Lily’s name signifies how loving, playful, and bright she is. These typefaces also successfully show how the signifier directly correlates with the signified. Without having to watch the show, one can interpret from the typeface what kind of characters are being represented.
The type used within the trailer is completely different than the type used in the tv show poster. The poster tries to portray the essence of the characters through the typeface, whereas the trailer focuses more on the essence of the tv show as a whole. While the poster emphasizes the personalities of the characters, the trailer places emphasis on the warm, playful mood that comes along with the joy of Christmas. This is seen with the red and white typography the creators of the show have employed. The red and white portrays the colours of Christmas. Moreover, the geometric typeface along with the striped red and white letters are signifiers for candy canes, as the signified. The geometric typeface along with the colours accurately reflects the characteristics of the geometric shapes seen within not only the perfectly shaped candy canes, but throughout Christmas decorations in the general, with the appearance of many circles (such as wreaths, ornaments, etc.). In order to truly emulate the feeling and spirit of Christmas, the typeface was adorned with bright string lights that usually seen on Christmas trees, or are used to decorate the exterior of one’s home.
Locke and Key
The typography seen within Locke and Key’s poster and trailer are consistent in typeface, unlike the previous example Dash and Lily. The typeface is serifed, with a clear stroke, and evident weight is created by the three dimensional shapes. Serif typefaces generally have associations with times that are not exactly current and deals with the past, unlike the way in which sans serif typefaces have associations with the present and the future. The serifed typefaces mimics the antique aesthetic of keys seen in both the poster and the trailer of the show. The colour of the typeface and the overall appearance reflects a shiny metal, like the one an individual would see for actual keys and locks. The letter L in the word “Locke” is interconnected with the letter K in the word “Key” to literally paint the picture of a lock fitting inside a key. More importantly, the letter k and the letter e are joined together to create an image of a key, while the letter o contains the shape of the opening of a padlock, where the key is inserted. In this sense, the typography is using this appearance as the signifier to represent the material characteristic of locks and keys, which in this case is the signified. Like the typeface used for the show Dash and Lily, Locke and Key also employs glyphs in their typography, to effectively communicate their message. Even within the trailer, the motion that is employed for the words literally shows the words turning in place, representing the turn of a lock when a key is inserted.
Once again, the viewer does not even need to watch the show, in order to figure out that the mood of the show is both eerie and ominous, because of the successful employment of the typography, where there is an appearance of antique, shiny metal. With many individuals’ biases coming from horror movies in the west that use antiques as the main part of their plot, it is not surprising for these same individuals to hold this opinion; antique = ominous and scary. With all of these important elements combined, the typography effectively and efficiently communicates what this show is about, and gives the viewers a good sense of what to expect from the show as well.
Friends is an iconic part of pop culture, majority of people despite the country will usually know about the show. Myself being a huge friends fan may be biased but I believe it is one of the main show from the 90’s that is still constantly being watched today in 2020. Friends has a unique font style, it has the impression of being hand written which can help the viewer feel more connected to the show. The friends typeface however was not always as commonly seen everywhere as it is today in fact during its peak it was seen as odd to be wearing Friends merchandise or be known for watching the show, I believe this is similar to what Riverdale is now, more details will be discussed in the Riverdale section. So I’m sure it’s clear by now that friends is well known, even my grandma who doesn’t know English knows about it, so what about it makes it so easily recognizable. For starters the typeface used includes different colour glyphs between each letter which makes it easily identifiable. Friends is a show about a group of friends and their lives, it is a sitcom that many individuals did and can relate to, it has stood the test of time and space.
The friends typeface has become so much more than just a typeface for a show it has become the way individuals express themselves, individuals use the same naming conventions of the show and font to create t-shirts and hoodies with expressions like “The one where the graduate.” During this pandemic individuals incorporated glyphs as well the type face to create this hoodie below which I believe accurately gets the message across. Overall Friends is an iconic show whos typeface is still easily recognizable and is constantly being used in a different context from what it was originally intended from.
Riverdale is a teen drama which airs on CW, it is one of those shows that even if you don’t watch it you have heard of it. Riverdale is based of the Archie comics, and despite changing the tone from a child friendly story to a more mysterious style show a lot of things changed however the R on the jerseys shown in the comics is used in the opening tile typeface. The opening title scene uses neon letters, which can reflect the idea of mystery, neon signs typically reflect pop culture while simultaneously showing the idea of the unknown as the type is typically depicted in front of a forest. The typeface for a show commonly reflects the genre, scripts are usually for more family orientated shows or shows revolving around families. Riverdale being an American teen drama carefully picked a typeface that was similar yet different from the original comics as they wanted the audience who grew up on the characters to have a sense of familiarity but also help emphasis this is not the same tone as they are used to. Riverdale “R” can be considered a glyph as it is seen on the jerseys in the show and in the comics and that on its own can lead one to know it’s Riverdale. Riverdale is how friends originally was everyone seems to watch it but no one seems to admit to it however unlike friends individuals still buy Riverdale merchandise.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Netflix show A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017-2019) is based on a movie (2004) which is based on a series of books (1999) written by the author under the pen name Lemony Snicket. It is interesting to see how the typeface of one series of books changes over the span of 20 years, as it goes from books, to a movie, to a tv show. Both the book and the movie have a serifed typeface. The book title along with the author name is written simply in this serifed, roman typeface. When comparing the typography between the book series and the movie, the typeface remains serifed, however there is a significant change in size of characters. Such as the large letters “U” and “E” for the word “unfortunate”, or the letters “E” and “S” for the word “events”. It gives the movie poster a distinct look and fits in with the quirky mood of the movie. It is also obvious to see how the typography for the movie poster and the book have similarities, where the typeface remains the same for both the title and the author name.
The tv show, however, is where the style of typography changes. The typeface used for the author name is a script and emulates the author’s personality better compared to the movie poster and book. The actual title of the tv show still keeps some characteristics of the movie poster such as the elongated “U” and “E” for the word “Unfortunate” and the elongated “E” and “S” for the word events. The typography of the book was simple, but the typography of the tv show becomes a bit more expressive. It changes from a serifed typeface to sans serifed typeface and is bulkier in weight. It gives the impression of cement blocks that has cracks. These cracks represent all the bad things that can go wrong and will go wrong within the plot of the tv show, and as suggested by the title. Although this particular tv show poster does not exhibit the use of glyphs like the other shows that were analyzed, it does show how over time typography can change. Despite the subject matter (the book series in this case) staying the same, one can still see how the typography progressively changes with current events and styles. Nowadays, it is very common to see a sans-serifed typeface for Netflix original shows because it gives a sense of being current, new and on trend.
“Archie Comics Spotlights Characters with Digital Exclusive Releases Ahead of 80th Anniversary.” Archie Comics, 15 Apr. 2020, archiecomics.com/archie-comics-spotlights-characters-with-digital-exclusive-releases-ahead-of-80th-anniversary/.
“Dash & Lily.” IMDb, IMDb.com, 10 Nov. 2020, www.imdb.com/title/tt1758589/.
“Locke & Key.” IMDb, IMDb.com, 7 Feb. 2020, www.imdb.com/title/tt3007572/.
r/UmbrellaAcademy – What Is Your Favorite Title Sequence from Season 1 and Why Is Episode 6? www.google.com/amp/s/amp.reddit.com/r/UmbrellaAcademy/comments/aumdcb/what_is_your_favorite_title_sequence_from_season/.
“Seniors 2020 The One Where They Were Quarantined Friends Inspired Shirt.” Teezill, 5 May 2020, teezill.com/products/seniors-2020-the-one-where-they-were-quarantined-friends-inspired-shirt.