How movies and TV shows set in 2020 compare to reality

Laurence Mozafari
·7-min read
Photo credit: Warner Bros Pictures / Orion Pictures
Photo credit: Warner Bros Pictures / Orion Pictures

From Digital Spy

You don't need us to tell you that 2020 has been a bit of a bleak one. Not a great start to the decade, in fact, more of a dickade, eh? Well, global pandemics, recessions, and GLOW getting cancelled aside, we decided to delve into TV and movies set in 2020 (or beyond) to see whether the world those Hollywood types imagined is better than the real thing. Yes, even though there are fire-breathing dragons.

Set in 2019: Years and Years (2019)

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

Shop Now Years and Years [DVD]

The BBC's dystopian series kicks off in 2019, then gradually shoots forward over 15 years. On one hand, much worse than 2020, as a nuclear explosion kicks off the show, BUT later in the series, British politics swings to the far right, there's public rows over immigration, and augmented reality is rife... So basically the same then.

Set in 2020: A Quiet Place (2018)

Photo credit: Paramount
Photo credit: Paramount

Watch Now A Quiet Place

Most of Earth's human and animal population is wiped out by a fast-moving threat that can't be killed by bullets or explosions. OK, sounds familiar. The main difference is you're not allowed to make any noise, otherwise, the creatures will find you and kill you. So at least we have that, eh? Mind you, we certainly felt the repercussions from our downstairs neighbours after doing a very jumpy Joe Wicks lockdown workout.

Set in 2020: Mission to Mars (2000)

Photo credit: Moviestore/Shutterstock / Touchstone Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment.
Photo credit: Moviestore/Shutterstock / Touchstone Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment.

Yeah, we haven't popped any humans on to Mars yet, but the big twist in this film is (20-year-old spoilers incoming) aliens exist and live on Mars, but they were hit by an asteroid. So they sent descendants to Earth to set up shop, and one day comes back. We haven't checked Area 51 to see if that bit is true, but the Mars 2020 rover is en route to explore the chance of past life on the planet as you read this.

Set in 2020: Doctor Who: 'The Hungry Earth' (2010)

Photo credit: Adrian Rogers
Photo credit: Adrian Rogers

The Doctor travels to Wales to discover more Silurians (lizard-like creatures) living underneath the planet's surface, who are rudely awakened from hibernation by a noisy drill. Matt Smith's iteration tries to play peacemaker, but eventually, they're sent back to the land of nod, in the hope everyone can get along in a thousand years or so. We're sure you can find plenty of talk about secret lizard overlords from a cursory glance at Twitter. Thankfully, you can chalk them up with other works of fiction, like Donald Trump's tweets.

Set in 2020: Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Thankfully we weren't invaded by aliens in 2015, followed by a global 2020 interplanetary war on Earth, but that's what we get in Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt's action-packed Groundhog Day-style blockbuster. Although in the 'new normal', working from home and lockdowns do make every day a bit repetitive. So maybe they got something right?

Set in 2020: The Last Man on Earth (2015)

Photo credit: FOX / Disney
Photo credit: FOX / Disney

Set in 2020, this one sees Phil Miller (Will Forte) roaming America after seemingly becoming the last survivor of a deadly virus. Yikes. Good news though – he isn't the only survivor, the main cast are immune and they're soon dealing with not only repopulating the Earth (yay), but also a cannibal (boo). This show got canned after season four, but they planned to reveal survivors who hid until the virus was dormant (yay again) – but the immune survivors accidentally spread it and kill them (boo again).

Set in 2020: Real Steel (2011)

Photo credit: Disney
Photo credit: Disney

Phew. This one isn't about a virus. In 2020 robots have replaced boxers, which is a nice way to avoid people being hurt in a barbaric sport. The rest is fairly 'Rocky with robots' as Hugh Jackman's character (Charlie Kenton) tries to win a big-money match, and as well as a relationship with his estranged son. N'awww.

Set in 2020: Pacific Rim (2013)

Photo credit: Legendary Pictures/Kobal/Shutterstock
Photo credit: Legendary Pictures/Kobal/Shutterstock

More. Giant. Robots. After a huge interdimensional hole opens under the sea in 2013, it releases all manner of monsters. Humanity teams up to build Power Rangers-style giant robots to fight them. Yep, that was the most sensible plan we had. The rest of the film spans 2020-2025. Good news, they managed to close the portal by the end. Bad news, they made a sequel.

Set in 2021: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Photo credit: Focus Features
Photo credit: Focus Features

In Steve Carell and Keira Knightley's offbeat comedy, two neighbours ironically end up living life to the full when they receive news of a meteor heading for Earth: seeking out his first love, before realising they actually love each other! Of course. She was right next door all along. A girl next door if you will. If we're still in lockdown come 2021, seeking love with your neighbour might be the easiest options for singletons, tbh.

Set in 2022: Reign of Fire (2002)

Photo credit: Buena Vista Pictures
Photo credit: Buena Vista Pictures

Huzzah. England made it to 2022! Excellent. Plus Matthew McConaughey is here, with a luscious post-apocalyptic beard. Super. What's that? What do we mean post-apocalyptic? Well, some bumbling builders accidentally unearthed a brood of slumbering dragons in 2002 while building an extension to the London Underground. Plonkers! Havoc with tube timetables (and fiery death) ensues.

Set in 2027: Children of Men (2006)

Photo credit: Universal
Photo credit: Universal

Bit of a change of pace from monsters, meteors and dragons, Children of Men sees humanity faced with infertility, while Britain becomes a police state and is beset with refugees, as they flee radiation and plagues. The UK responds by locking them up. Imagine that! Chaos ensues as the UK's youngest person is killed, but there's hope when an immigrant named Kee falls pregnant and needs to be escorted to safety.

Set in 2029: The Terminator franchise (began 1984)

Deadly robots from the year 2029 are sent back to try and murder John Connor, who is set to be the leader of the human resistance. We only get brief glimpses of 2029 in the Terminator films but suffice to say, it's not great – the grass is swapped for piles of skulls, and Siri is basically on steroids and trying to kill you.

Set in 2029: Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Photo credit: Shochiku Dreamworks
Photo credit: Shochiku Dreamworks

Another one set in the year 2029, this time human bodies can be altered with different parts, a bit like IRL TikTok filters, while human brains are wrapped in tech to connect them to the internet. Meanwhile 'ghosts' are basically human consciousness, which can be transferred to different 'shells' (aka bodies). Things start getting haywire when bodies are ghost-hacked and start causing mayhem, another reason to avoid clicking and claiming that mysterious inheritance from the nice stranger who keeps emailing you.

Set in 2031: Snowpiercer (2013)

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Humanity is still doomed (soz), but this time it's global warming causing the fuss, which is refreshing. The world enters a new ice age, so the last survivors pile onto a train circulating the Earth for eternity. They're separated into classes with rich people living in decadence at the front, and very poor stowaways at the back. The societal allegories are stark, but going by the rail price hikes, we'd be surprised if the government let prime saviour seats on humanity's eternal commute go to the riff-raff come the big freeze. Tut tut.

Set in 2033: Upload (2020)

Photo credit: Amazon
Photo credit: Amazon

If we do end up croaking it due to monsters, aliens, meteors, dragons, global infertility, or robots, Amazon Prime Video's TV show Upload might have sweet relief. You can upload your memories and live in a digital afterlife with customer service 'angels' managing your every whim. Great huh? You will be rinsed with micro-transactions for eternity, mind, and poor people are frozen in purgatory when their data runs out. Sign us up for salvation, Zuckerberg!

This article was taken from Digital Spy's magazine exclusively available on Apple News+ read more witha 1-month free trial, only on Apple News+.

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