Since about 2016 and acutely so since 2020, years no longer feel like proper markers of time. Hours, I understand. That’s roughly how long it takes to watch an hour of The White Lotus. Days, I can comprehend. Hanukkah takes places over eight days (nights, really, if we’re being technical). Weeks, I have a grasp on as well. There are 29 weeks until the Barbie movie is finally released. But years? Too obscure. With that said, according to the calendar, a year is coming to a close, and if that’s the case, then I think it’s best we look back at a number of moments in pop culture that defined the last 52 weeks.
Since 2000, Heidi Klum’s Halloween party has been the stuff of legends. As Mariah Carey has successfully angled (though not legally) for the title of Queen of Christmas, Klum too has sought to claim her own queendom over all things October 31. She’s shown up as Jessica Rabbit, a werewolf and Princess Fiona, but 2022’s entry, a worm, will go down as the moment that finally secured her as Halloween royalty. It was inventive. It was weird. It demanded a triple take, at minimum. It showed a lack of self-seriousness while also displaying a great amount of discipline. The latter was bolstered by Prosthetic Renaissance, who helped create the look that was conceptualized and built over a two-year period. I’ll always be bummed we were robbed of a Wendy Williams Hot Topics segment of her monologuing about this pop culture event.
Negroni… Sbagliato… with Prosecco
Why it took such a hold, who knows? The viral clip involved House of the Dragon stars Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke discussing their drinks of choice. I’d have to speculate that it was a combination of D’Arcy’s voice and her delivery as well as Cooke’s genuine shock that two individuals, let alone her and the person sitting in front of her, could both love a somewhat popular drink. The internet lapped it up, and it resulted in a prolonged amount of discourse — and no doubt a boom in Negroni sales.
Drew Barrymore in the Rain
We should have listened when Mariah Carey first told us that she (and, by proxy, us) could make it through the rain in 2002. For anyone doubting, such a belief was reaffirmed when Drew Barrymore stepped out into the rain and declared, “Whenever you can go out into the rain, do not miss the opportunity.” Natasha Beddingfield’s impact.
Katy Perry Throwing Pizza
Genuinely weird or a concerted effort to present as weird? Either way, intended or candid, it was weird. Katy Perry was dancing at a nightclub in Vegas when she decided to grab the nearest pizza box and start hurling it into the crowd. Why? This is a case for the FBI. Her only explanation was provided on Twitter, where she wrote it off merely as “a mother feeding her children.”
Keke Palmer’s Pregnancy Announcement
Keke Palmer provided a mic-drop moment just minutes into her Saturday Night Live debut when she borrowed a page from the Beyoncé playbook and revealed her pregnant belly to a live audience of millions at home. If there were a competition show where contestants vie for best friendships with celebrities, Palmer would easily be the most requested guest. She looked gorgeous. Her smile radiated. It was the perfect cap on a year in which the culture started to better recognize and regard the force that is Keke Palmer.
It was the Juergen Teller photoshoot with her on her knees in a black leather Hodakova dress surrounded by several large rocks in the streets of New York that finally convinced me to stop trying to understand Julia Fox the person and instead embrace Julia Fox the cultural figure. She had a big year. A spark that could have fizzled out, Fox is proving there’s a long game here. Why she wasn’t cast on the rebooted Real Housewives of New York remains a dark mystery.
Eugene Lee Yang’s Face
Eugene Lee Yang’s face throughout the Try Guys’ “what happened” video summarizes so succinctly the year 2023. After the abrupt firing of his longtime co-star, Yang conveyed a hundred emotions on his face (namely rage) throughout this five-minute explainer.
Kate Bush Is Back
Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” originally peaked at No. 30 back in 1985. But earlier this year, when Netflix’s behemoth Stranger Things decided to feature the song, what was old became seemingly brand new again. The song, decades after its release, became the first U.S. Top 10 hit in Bush’s almost 50-year career. Bush, ever humble, did her first interview in six years, saying appropriately, “It’s so exciting. But it’s quite shocking, really, isn’t it? I mean, the whole world’s gone mad.”
The Women of The White Lotus
Jennifer Coolidge and Aubrey Plaza’s standout (and Golden Globe-nominated) performances in White Lotus were delightful but not surprising. What was perhaps more unexpected was the universe of actresses this show would bring forward this season in addition to those two. Meghann Fahy. Sabrina Impacciatore. Simona Tabasco. Beatrice Grannò. Haley Lu Richardson. The female stars of the second season of the Mike White opus proved to be the backbone of the show and fed gay Twitter with enough to sustain us for months.
No more discourse, please. But it did happen. And its impact? Well, you were there.
Christine Baranski Glares at Elon Musk
Perhaps no image will remain more burned in our collective consciousnesses than Christine Baranski staring down Elon Musk at this year’s Met Gala. Though she claims she has “no memory” of the event, the photo will thankfully live on. Despite its candidness, it has the feeling of a shot from a Robert Altman film. It conveys both the bravado and unchecked power brought on by exorbitant wealth and the specter of what becomes of said man — if not soon, eventually.
Composer Jonathan Larson once asked, “How do you measure a year?” in his musical Rent. There, we just did it.