2020 is FINALLY over.
This past year — which was often called a “dumpster fire” — was marked by the boredom of coronavirus quarantine and being bored in the house and in the house bored. At the same time, there was the anxiety of TOO much going on, with a deadly pandemic, a crucial (and seemingly never-ending) US presidential election, ongoing racial justice protests, raging wildfires, and more.
It was also the year of sharing recipes and supporting small businesses, a rise in activism, dozens of TikTok trends, multiple surprise Taylor Swift albums, and heartwarming stories from all around the world about how people came together in a time when we’d never been further apart.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times — so let’s look back on all the crazy memorable moments, big and small, that defined 2020.
Harry & Meghan Quit The Royal Family
Toilet Paper Shortage
Tiger King & The Quarantine Binge
Social Justice Movement
The NBA Bubble
The Death of Chadwick Boseman
Hilaria Baldwin’s Faux Spanish Accent
Harry & Meghan Quit The Royal Family
If US politics got you down in 2020, you may have turned your attention to the Royal Family instead. They had their fair share of scandals (some were more sinister, some were decades old, and some were just The Crown season 4), but nothing could eclipse Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s announcement they were leaving the royal life behind in January.
Arguably the most famous of the royals, the couple decided to leave in part because of the harassment the actress turned Duchess faced from the British press. With multiple lawsuits against UK tabloids, Harry told ITV he didn’t want to repeat what happened to his mother, Princess Diana. He said:
“Everything that she went through and what happened to her is incredibly raw every single day and that is not me being paranoid. That is just me not wanting a repeat of the past. … All we need to do is focus on being real, and focus on being the people that we are and standing up for what we believe in. I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum.”
After working things out with Queen Elizabeth II, Harry, Meghan, and baby Archie moved to North America, first staying in Canada before settling outside Los Angeles. Say what you will about 2020, but it did bring royalty to America, so we’re gonna count that as a win.
Toilet Paper Shortage
Early in the pandemic, nobody knew what to expect — and unsurprisingly, that caused a bit of a panic. Grocery store shelves looked apocalyptically empty; a precious resource like hand sanitizer was hard to come by. Even worse, toilet paper flew off the shelves at such a rate that it actually caused a real freakin’ shortage. We never thought we’d see the day where stores would limit the amount of toilet paper per customer, but it became a necessary precaution after folks stuck at home began panic-buying TP in huge quantities. Definitely one of the more bizarre side effects of 2020!
Before coronavirus, you might never have heard of the videoconferencing app Zoom — but once lockdown started, it was inescapable. Some people joked that more established apps like Skype “fumbled the bag,” but users were attracted to Zoom’s capacity for up to 100 participants with 40 mins of free conference time.
Zoom culture exploded: there were after-work Zoom happy hours, Zoom trivia nights, and Zoom interviews. One delightful trend was Zoom reunions: casts of movies and TV shows like The Parent Trap, Parks & Recreation, Mean Girls, My So-Called Life, The Princess Bride, The Office, Sonny with a Chance, and more got together to reminisce or read scripts — often for a good cause.
But there were some serious faux-pas, as well. The word “Zoombombing” entered the lexicon when pranksters would take advantage of non-password protected conferences and join strangers’ calls. Some instances were much more scandalous, like when Jeffrey Toobin was fired for accidentally exposing himself on a call with co-workers. (The accident was the part where he believed his camera was turned off, not the part where he started masturbating during a work event. Gross.)
Still, the video conferencing app brought us together, whether in seeing each other’s faces or in complaining about the amount of Zoom calls we had. At Thanksgiving, the app magnanimously lifted the 40-minute restriction so that families could connect over the holidays, proving good things could still happen in 2020.
Tiger King & The Quarantine Binge
When lockdown officially began and we were no longer allowed to go out and socialize, the world turned to streaming services to keep us entertained — and thus, the quarantine binge was born. Luckily, Netflix just so happened to release a certain documentary series coinciding with the beginning of stay-at-home orders: Tiger King.
The show’s phenomenon cannot be overestimated, nor could it ever be repeated. It was just the right time and the right place for the bizarre tale of zookeeper Joe Exotic and his nemesis Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tiger King set a Netflix record for early streams — 64 million viewers in its first month. Celebrities were dressing up as Joe and fighting over who would get to play him in the inevitable adaptation. And he absolutely loved all the attention… from prison, where he’s currently serving a 22-year sentence for conspiring to commit murder.
The streaming service had a fair amount of success with unscripted content in 2020, especially with the launch of their new reality series like The Circle (the social media competition show), Love is Blind (the dating show where contestants communicated only via text), and Too Hot to Handle (the one where they put a bunch of hot people on an island and subtracted prize money every time they hooked up). Unscripted wasn’t Netflix’s only success — they also had quarantine hits with shows like Outer Banks and The Queen’s Gambit. If anybody “won” quarantine, it was definitely Netflix!
When the world — and the entertainment industry — shut down for the coronavirus quarantine, we had to wonder what stars were going to do to keep our attention. Some went for a classic conspicuous pap walk. Some started their own Instagram shows to stay connected to fans. And some, um, sang John Lennon’s Imagine, for some reason.
That (metaphorically) tone-deaf musical montage was just the first in a long string of celebs failing to read the room and flaunting their wealth and privilege at a time when average Americans were struggling more than ever. Vanessa Hudgens was an early offender for complaining that Coachella was canceled despite it being “inevitable” that people would die. TikTok stars were often unapologetic about partying in large numbers. Even stars like Cardi B, who were generous with their wealth during the crisis got called out. (In Cardi’s case, tweeting about purchasing an $88,000 purse was the wrong move.)
Perhaps the worst of all these instances was Kim Kardashian West’s 40th birthday party. The reality star flew her family and closest friends on jets to a private island so they could, in her words, “pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time.” Of course, KarJenner normal looks a lot different from everyone else’s on a good day, but with so many people struggling and dying, the luxurious vacation felt downright offensive. Photographs of masked staff members serving food and drink to Kim’s unmasked fam just added insult to injury.
As was the case for many celeb scandals during this time, the backlash could have been prevented by simply not sharing pictures of the event. But today’s famous faces would rather have attention than privacy — it’s just that their audience has less patience for it than ever.
Losing my fucking MIND at this Quibi show where actual Emmy winner Rachel Brosnahan plays a woman obsessed with her golden arm pic.twitter.com/rSfqCv75SG
— Zach Raffio (@zachraffio) April 15, 2020
If anybody had a good year, it was streaming services. In fact, they’re probably the only ones who had a good year. But there’s one notable exception: Quibi. In a few years, we may never remember its rise and immediate fall, so we have to take this time to pour one out for one of the year’s grandest failures (in a very crowded field).
Quibi was short for “quick bites,” meant to deliver short-form content designed specifically for people’s phones. The company raised $1.75 billion and had names like Chrissy Teigen, Sophie Turner, Joe Jonas, Chance The Rapper, Anna Kendrick, Kevin Hart, and MANY more attached.
And yet… the service only lasted just over six months. The content didn’t make much of an impact at all (beyond Rachel Brosnahan’s briefly viral golden arm, above). There are surely a lot of reasons for Quibi’s catastrophic failure, but one is that people suddenly had a lot more time on their hands to watch regular, full-length shows, and no need for those “quick bites.”
R.I.P., Quibi. You were fun while you lasted, we guess.
Wearing masks to keep from spreading germs to others was already common practice in East Asian countries like South Korea and Japan, but when coronavirus hit, the rest of the world had to catch up, to decidedly mixed results.
Some people rose to the challenge: crafters created and shared fun and fresh mask patterns, and celebs participated in viral #WearAMask challenges. New York State even commissioned Paul Rudd for a Mask PSA, which was either amazing or condescending depending on who you asked.
But mask wearing was also surprisingly controversial. There was a contingent who vocally complained that wearing masks infringed upon their rights as Americans. Other conspiracy theorists said that masks were bad for your health because they made you breathe in CO2. (We hope we don’t have to point out this is NOT true, BTW.) And of course, plenty of celebs got called out for hanging out with friends unmasked.
As for us, we say as long as masks keep others safe, we should keep them in style!
Social Justice Movement https://www.instagram.com/tv/CA51SvzDx7F/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading
Black Lives Matter has been a rallying cry since 2013, but the movement gained powerful momentum in 2020. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of police incited a new surge of protests after video was leaked of Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as his colleagues callously stood by.
Floyd’s death in May led to a summer of uprisings as activists took up the names of other members of the Black community who had been killed in 2020, among them Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey, and Tony McDade. The protests would have easily been historic if we weren’t in a plague year, but things being what they were, it was even more inspiring to see people come together for a crucial, common cause.
Of course, celebrities got involved with the activism too. Though their actions may have started with the misguided “posting black squares on Instagram” day, many famous faces got involved by showing up to demonstrations or handing their platform over to Black activists and leaders, helping to educate their followers on the issues. The summer’s social justice movement fed into election season, as A-listers like Taylor Swift, Kylie Jenner, and Jared Leto helped get out the vote.
It remains to be seen what the impact of 2020’s activism will be, but we hope it will have long-lasting ramifications on the future of the country.
KEEP BELIEVING KANYE 2020 Thank you Jesus Christ pic.twitter.com/OgFDGOCAOp
— ye (@kanyewest) November 3, 2020
If you want to point out the most bizarre moment of the 2020 Presidential election, you’d have a lot of options to choose from. But perhaps nothing sums up the absurdity of the year’s politics than Kanye West’s presidential run. The Yeezus rapper first announced his candidacy back in 2015, but he didn’t get back to the idea until July of 2020, when primary season was basically already over.
It was unclear what, exactly, Kanye’s goals were in the race, since he didn’t exactly put a ton of effort into the campaign. Still, the Life of Pablo artist insisted that his candidacy was the real deal. In the end, he only made it onto the ballot in a handful of states, and his alarming campaign events (like the one where ‘Ye said he and Kim Kardashian West considered aborting their daughter North West) nearly ended his marriage .
As his behavior became more erratic and indicative of a bipolar episode, celebs like Halsey spoke up for Kanye’s mental health while Kim asked the public for grace. In an Instagram post, she wrote in part:
“Those that understand mental illness or even compulsive behavior know that the family is powerless unless the member is a minor. People who are unaware or far removed from this experience can be judgmental and not understand that the individual themselves have to engage in the process of getting help no matter how hard family and friends try.”
While the Wests attempted to sort out their personal problems, the campaign (or lack thereof) continued. Ahead of the November election, there was some concern that he might split the vote in favor of Donald Trump. But as it turns out, not that many people voted for Kanye West. Kanye West voted for Kanye West, though — and of course, he’s since already announced his 2024 run.
KANYE 2024 pic.twitter.com/Zm2pKcn12t
— ye (@kanyewest) November 4, 2020
There weren’t too many high-fashion moments in 2020 (thank goodness for Harry Styles in a dress to get the fashion conversation started again). Instead, people stuck inside turned to outfits more practical and WAY more comfortable.
Enter day pajamas: the perfect solution when you’ve got a case of the 2020s. All you had to do was change out of the pajamas you wore to bed into different pajamas, and voila, you’ve got an outfit. Similarly, “Nap dresses” also made a splash — nightgown-esque frocks that could still be worn out if you had to run the rare errand.
Elsewhere, tie dye doubled as a fun quarantine activity and the year’s biggest print (“Interest in ‘tie dye loungewear’ is up by 5,000 percent since last year,” reported O Magazine). Athleisure stayed prominent, and if you were wearing shoes, you can bet they were comfy ones (Crocs made a surprising comeback).
The NBA Bubble
While coronavirus sent many of us into work from home mode, there are so many jobs that just don’t have the option. Essential workers and customer service employees bravely navigated how to continue working and interacting with others in these difficult conditions, sometimes with very little help from the companies they worked for.
A more unusual example of trying to make an IRL job work came in the form of the NBA bubble. The basketball season was cut short in March, but the organization negotiated a return to play with an unusual solution: they isolated all the players and teams at the Walt Disney World Resort. There were intense safety precautions in place to prevent infections; food was prepared by chefs in a separate bubble, while services like barbershops and laundromats were set up onsite.
Bubble reunions are the best ✌🏾☘️
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 15, 2020
Bubble life proved to be an unusual microcosm for the rest of the world. Players had to find hobbies to occupy their time in isolation when they weren’t playing. And in August, they staged a historic walkout in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after the shooting of Jacob Blake.
In the end, the championship title went to the Los Angeles Lakers, which proved an emotional catharsis after the death of legendary Laker Kobe Bryant earlier in the year.
It remains to be seen how sports and entertainment will work around coronavirus in 2021, but the 2020 NBA bubble will definitely remain a hallmark in sports history.
More time at home in quarantine meant less time at our favorite restaurants and coffee shops. This led to an impressive burst of culinary creativity in the kitchen, which in some cases, meant going back to the basics — sourdough and banana bread both had HUGE moments (so huge that it was nearly impossible to find flour for a few weeks of lockdown).
In other cases, new trends took hold, like the dalogna coffee craze. The recipe originated with Korean YouTubers before migrating over to TikTok. The drink wasn’t just a delightful sweet treat, it was also aesthetically pleasing, and it filled the coffee-sized hole in many hearts who missed their baristas.
The Death of Chadwick Boseman
2020 was a year marked by devastating grief. The sheer amount of loss was so painful — and maybe that’s part of why the news that Chadwick Boseman had died from a cancer most of the world didn’t even know he was diagnosed with hit so very hard. He was only 43-years old, both respected and beloved, and poised to lead the Marvel Cinematic Universe into its next phase with the overwhelming success of Black Panther and Endgame.
Boseman experienced the most prolific years of his career while battling colon cancer. After his death, many examples of his generosity and talent were passed around. But nothing cut as deep as the resurfaced 2017 HuffPost sit-down where the interviewer, noting that the actor looked tired, commented that he’d “been through the ringer.” Boseman laughed:
“Oh, you don’t even know. You have no idea. One day I’ll live to tell the story.”
Of course, Chadwick wasn’t the only star we lost in 2020. Some of the other losses that touched us this year were Kobe Bryant, Naya Rivera, and Alex Trebek. (Click HERE for a complete list of tributes.)
TikTok was already steadily gaining steam over the past four years, but the app thrived in quarantine. Users became celebs for entertaining us during lockdown, while celebs joined the app in an attempt to keep our attention. (Shout out to you, Jason Derulo!)
The social media platform quickly became the place to share crafts and recipes, dance crazes and well-needed laughs. Songs that became popular on the app ruled the charts and launched careers: Heather by Conan Gray, Supalonely by BENEE ft. Gus Dapperton, Backyard Boy by Claire Rosinkranz, Let’s Link by WhoHeem, F2020 by Avenue Beat, and of course, Say So by Doja Cat, to name a few.
Because it’s 2020, the app also got strangely caught up in the year’s politics. Tiktok teens (and K-pop stans) were praised by US Representative Alexandra Ocasio Ortez for tanking a Trump campaign event by requesting hundreds of fake tickets, leading to an empty arena. In a surely unrelated move, the President went to war with the app, threatening to have it shut down due to its ties to China and apparent data mining.
Somehow it has survived Trump’s ire, though, and it’s one of the few things from this year we hope lasts a good long time.
Hilaria Baldwin’s Faux Spanish Accent https://www.instagram.com/tv/CJTiwHiDX7X/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading
Just when we thought 2020 had dealt out all the ridiculousness it had to offer, Hilaria Baldwin crashed into the picture. Alec Baldwin’s wife spent most of the year sharing her pregnancy journey with her IG followers and enjoying her newborn, Eduardo Pau Lucas Baldwin.
Then, in the final stretch of a miserable year — and after a strange, brief feud (?) with Amy Schumer — one Twitter user struck a fuse by tweeting:
“You have to admire Hilaria Baldwin’s commitment to her decade long grift where she impersonates a Spanish person”
What followed was a long thread of evidence proving that Hilaria, whose given name is actually Hillary Hayward-Thomas, was faking her Spanish heritage (and accent) all along. In reality, she was born and raised in Massachusetts to a family who apparently frequently vacationed in Spain. The mother of five tried to “clarify” her background on Instagram (above) and to The New York Times, but it’s hard to argue with the mountain of evidence presented online that clearly showed she was being deliberately misleading about her heritage.
Of course, Alec — who has a notoriously short temper and a bad relationship with the press to begin with — was furious with the internet and the media. He even went so far as to tell a critic to “go f**k yourself,” but with Alec, that kind of hostility isn’t exactly a surprise.
It was definitely a bizarre story to go viral in a year of many, many bizarre stories, but at the end of such a universally terrible year it was frankly a delightful diversion to come together and collectively expose everything that is wrong with faking her nationality and heritage. Here are just a few examples:
— Kerry Mac (@KerryElle86) December 28, 2020
— 2020’s Eviction Notice (@reallyrai) December 28, 2020
The Hilaria Baldwin Story pic.twitter.com/xbXmUWEmxi
— Elsie (@ElsieNYletsgo) December 29, 2020
What are some of the things YOU’LL never forget from this insane year, Perezcious readers? Let us know in the comments (below)!
[Image via Ariana Grande/Kerry Washington/Kanye West/Instagram, Cardi B/Taylor Swift/Netflix/NBC/ABC/YouTube, Charli D’Amelio/TikTok & WENN]