The Interview Editors Favorite Pop Culture Moments of 2020
2020 was chaotic, traumatizing, and the majority of it felt like a fever dream. While the year was riddled with both turmoil and existential dread, there were a few moments that provided a short reprieve from the weight of the world. Below, the Interview editors give their picks for their favorite pop culture moments of 2020.
BEN BARNA, EXECUTIVE EDITOR
If you plan on watching The Mandalorian, or haven’t finished the second season, consider this a spoiler warning. Maybe it’s recency bias, but the surprise return of Luke Skywalker in the season two finale of the Disney Plus hit was the most thrilling thing I’ve seen on screen this year. I’m not even someone with a deep connection to the Star Wars franchise, but I couldn’t help but feel emotional when a de-aged Mark Hamill emerged from his X-wing to rescue Baby Yoda at the last minute. But no matter how much I loved it, it was nothing compared to these folks.
NICK HARAMIS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
I wracked my brain thinking about things that I could like ironically, since the truth is that I hated this year. But there were bursts of optimism and goodness in 2020, chief among them being that instantly iconic, meme-worthy video of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, mid-run, on the phone with President-elect Joe Biden when they realized they’d won the election. “We did it, Joe” became not just an admission of victory, but a collective sigh of relief. And I’m excited for all of us to make sure that this new administration does, in fact, do it in the new year, Joe.
RICHARD TURLEY, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Mine was pretty low key but the petty handwringing and horror at the Red Scare girls years-old Visitor Design ISIS merch line blowing up on clickbait sites (entirely to the benefit of Anna and Dasha’s sku count), was beautifully idiotic and symbolic of this eras talent of starting fights in empty rooms. The disappointing part is how quickly those rooms STILL fill up with a braying mob outraged at the societal atrocity, or repulsed by the libtard orthodoxy, or the violation of some woke code, or whatever trigger event has been committed. The angry (but often nicely designed) posts get thrown up, protests arranged (make sure you ‘gram it), before the mob high-five each other in solidarity in the comments to get rewarded by likes and (God willing) some follows and by extension some attention, any attention. It’s as if we don’t know how to behave in the empty rooms of our Covid lives other than hang out in virtual spaces creating new enemies to have rage fits in honor of, before recording it as evidence of mutually shared values on social feeds. It’s the rubric of the times.
(Oh, and the Adrianne Lenker album was pretty good. And David Byrne’s American Utopia at the Hudson Theatre. And wondering around an empty MoMa, having it all to myself. And the shitty, unloved documentaries on Amazon Prime I watched endlessly. And walking down the middle of Varick Street on a Friday evening in April with not a car in sight. And the ramen at Cocoron, the chicken at Le Poulet Sans Tete, the dosas of Khiladi. And Washington Square on any given day but especially on Election Day.)
ALEXA LANZA, MARKET DIRECTOR
I May Destroy You, MadFit, Verzuz, The Last Dance.
JULIANA UKIOMOGBE, EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
I’ve waited many years for a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion special and just a few short weeks ago, that dream became a reality. Seeing the entire cast together (RIP James Avery) reminisce about being part of one of the best shows to ever air on television was such a delight. Shoutout to the OG Aunt Viv for making an appearance.
SARAH NECHAMKIN, DIGITAL EDITOR
While most of my cultural consumption in 2020 came from a decade other than our current one—one scroll through Twitter and I often found myself wishing for a portal through time—this year also brought some new cultural fare to devour with takeout. Thanks to the pandemic, films like Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Another Round, Da 5 Bloods, and I Used to Go Here didn’t get their proper due, though you can still watch them at your convenience, from bed, in pajamas. Also thanks to the pandemic, I was able to finish The Undoing, Big Mouth, How To With John Wilson, McMillions, and Tiger King (never forget) in record time. Music-wise, there was “WAP,” “Fetch the Bolt Cutters,” and everything else. Jeff Bridges got a puppy, Taylor Swift got indie, America got rid of Trump, and New York got drunk. It was the worst of times, but hey, it could’ve been worse.
JACK VHAY, DESIGNER
Three pop cultural moments that come to mind: First, Parasite becomes the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars (and the slight pause Jane Fonda takes before announcing the winner was perfect); Second, music, generally, was a savior this year, but specifically new music from Arca, Christine and the Queens, Kaytranada, The Weeknd, Charli XCX, Lady Gaga, and Oneohtrix Point Never; Lastly, The Fly—capital T capital F— that foreshadowed Mike Pence’s fall from the Vice Presidency by landing on his head for over two minutes.
MEL OTTENBERG, CREATIVE DIRECTOR
First of all, Miss Rona is THEE culture of 2020, she ruled fiercely and things will never be the same, periodt. Black Lives Matter. Janaya. Stacey Abrams. “WAP” was, is, and will always be everything. I loved J Lo and her hair at the Super Bowl. I enjoyed Hillaria this week. I watched Seasons 1-10 of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and that was THE pop cultural moment for me this year. It’s really, really good and it helped me get through some really bad months. I’m proud of the accomplishment. Teddi ruined the franchise but they had a good run. I’m excited for Kathy. The fly was good. Tik Tok is really great although I wish the white girls would stop shhhhhhing and just pick another song. Mullets. Really hardcore mullets. Way more hardcore than any other time they ever came back. So good. Lakeith Stanfield. KJ Apa. Emma Corrin. Jeremy O. Harris Coronavirus Mixtapes. Telfar, and all the Telfar bags. City Girls.
New York Nico being the good guy that NYC needs and helping to save New York institutions like the Astor Place barber shop. I’m so here for it and it makes me so happy to see from someone I know and admire.
I’ve lived in NYC for a hundred years and I’ve been really over it and hating it and wanting to leave but I am into NYC again in a big way. The energy and culture of NYC is returning. I live on Washington Square and it’s been so whatevs for years and now it’s feeling fucking major again. Lots of the Karens moved out and will never return, and all the protesting was really meaningful and really changed the whole vibe.
SARAH MORRISON, PRODUCTION DIRECTOR
“We did it. We did it, Joe.”
MICHAEL QUINN, PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR
Brandy and Monica’s Verzuz battle—a moment of major major significance. For the world. For music. For me.