As Brits, we understand just how difficult to understand some of our accents are, particularly for those who don’t speak fluent English, and even for folks in the US. However, what is the hardest TV show to understand, and who is the hardest actor to understand? One recent survey of Americans has sought to find that out, and they delivered a resounding conclusion: Tom Hardy.
The survey consisted of 1,200 Americans and various questions delving into their use of subtitles, opinions of current trends in television sound, and what platforms and devices they watch their media on. They discovered around 50 percent of Americans watch shows with subtitles most of the time and 89 percent had watched something using subtitles in the past, with 55 percent stating they find it more difficult to hear shows nowadays.
The worst offenders were TV shows on streaming services, with 62 percent of Americans using subtitles on media from sources such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others.
When it came to ranking the toughest-to-understand actors, Tom Hardy tops the list (if you’ve ever watched Taboo, you’ll understand why), closely followed by Sofia Vergara and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Other notable mentions were Johnny Depp (assumedly for his Captain Jack Sparrow performance), Benedict Cumberbatch, and Liam Neeson.
Unsurprisingly, the quintessentially British Peaky Blinders was the most difficult TV show to understand for US viewers, followed by Derry Girls and Game of Thrones. Despite the clear skew towards English TV shows, Scottish actually ranked highest for the hardest accent to understand, with a massive 50 percent of Americans struggling to keep up with Scots.
It’s clear that subtitles are becoming increasingly important, but also that the more recent generations are using them to both understand media not made in their fluent languages, and to understand actors that they have trouble following. It may also help filmmakers understand their target audiences better – maybe it’s time to make speech a little clearer if they want the largest viewership possible.