This last decade saw a lot of change — and the biggest pop culture stories gave us lots of reasons to dish and gab over trending talking points on Twitter or at the water cooler (if those still even exist).
Before we head full steam ahead into 2020, we're taking a quick look back on the pop culture juggernauts that defined this last decade.
But we can't help but also think about: What will we be talking about in 2030?
1. The Royals
Not since the reign of Princess Diana have Americans been so interested in the story of the royals, but with two royal weddings in one decade, why wouldn’t we be?
2011 saw the marriage between the former Kate Middleton and future king of England, and then two years later an heir to the throne was born with the birth of adorable Prince George. Two equally adorable siblings followed.
But what really grabbed our attention was the coupling of the former Meghan Markle and Prince Harry that seemed to have all the makings of a modern fairy tale: an American commoner (and divorcée) marrying someone in the line of succession for the British throne. Their wedding boasted huge ratings: 29 million in the United States alone. If she can snag a prince, why can't we, right?
2. Netflix and chill
If you said the word "streaming" 10 years ago, you probably would have thought of a body of water. No, we’re not talking about the Mississippi River, we’re talking about the way we consume media.
Gone are the days of just watching television via cable or satellite. Thanks to services like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube, we’re able to binge watch as much or as little as we want whenever we want. Streaming has also revolutionized the way we listen to music, with services like Apple Music and Spotify making the catalogs of our favorite musicians available for a nominal monthly fee.
3. America's first family?
Love them or loathe them, one thing is for sure: The Kardashians are everywhere, and this last decade is what really what defined their influence.
At the top of this decade, Kim’s short-lived 72-day marriage to Kris Humphries landed her in the tabloids. But it was her cover for the November 2014 issue of Paper magazine that "broke the internet." That day, the magazine's website had 50 million hits, or 1 percent of all Internet traffic in the United States.
Another magazine cover that went viral was the July 2015 issue of Vanity Fair that featured Caitlyn Jenner for the first time, becoming one of the most talked about coming-out moments ever. More recently, the Olympian’s daughter, Kylie Jenner, became the youngest self-made billionaire with her cosmetics company.
And while many associate all things superficial with the Kardashian clan, in recent years, the reality dynasty have been trying to use their platforms for good. In 2018, Kim helped free prison inmate Alice Marie Johnson, who was serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole. Kim’s work took her all the way to the White House for a much talked-about visit with President Trump, who ended up commuting the sentence of Johnson. Kardashian is continuing her commitment to criminal justice reform. In 2019, it was announced that she is working toward becoming a lawyer.
Love or loathe, we have a feeling that in 10 years we will still be talking about them.
4. We need a hero.
Bonnie Tyler is probably no longer holding out for a hero, because at the box office, superheroes are reigning supreme. The silver screens of the 2010s were chock full of comic book narratives that brought in big bucks, especially with last year’s “Avengers: Endgame,” which became the highest grossing film of all time. Other films that were notable for their inclusivity were “Black Panther,” “Wonder Woman” and “Captain Marvel,” Marvel Studios first female-led movie and currently the 25th-highest-grossing film of all time.
5. The Gram
The fact that at the beginning of this decade, Instagram didn't even exist is pretty crazy, right? Launched in October of 2010, the social media platform rapidly grew, gaining 1 million registered users in two months, 10 million in a year and 1 billion as of May 2019. The fourth most downloaded app of the decade, Instagram has created a new culture of the very we share our lives and our experiences.
Adapted from George R. R. Martin's series of fantasy novels “A Song of Ice and Fire,” “Game of Thrones” premiered on HBO in April 2011 and concluded in May 2019. It attracted a record viewership on HBO, and became a cultural phenomenon with its twists, turns, complex characters, sexualized situations and gratuitous violence.
What's his name, man? Who would think that a musical, albeit a musical about a historical figure, would snag a spot on our list? But Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster musical that profiled the charismatic Alexander Hamilton actually made the founding fathers cool again with hip-hop music, colorblind casting and rap soliloquies. Opening on Broadway in August of 2015, it quickly became the most expensive ticket to nab, with celebrities constantly making cameos in the front row.
8. The Gaineses
Like a few other notable happenings on our list, if you were told the names Chip and Joanna Gaines 10 years ago, you probably would have responded with, “Who?” After the dynamite success of their home design and renovation series “Fixer Upper,” which first aired in May 2013, the married couple at the helm of the bingeworthy series blew up.
Since that show began, the pair have developed numerous other projects, including best-selling books, a magazine, a coffee shop and even a hotel. And while "Fixer Upper" ended in 2017 much to the chagrin of their fans, the couple are gearing up for not just another show, but an entire network of programming in 2020.
Probably the most powerful on our list, the #MeToo movement was actually created in 2006, but it was after sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein were exposed in 2017 that the hashtag went viral and birthed a movement much larger than just one predator. #MeToo was originally created by Tarana Burke to empower women through empathy. After actress Alyssa Milano tweeted about her experience with sexual assault in 2017, many other survivors of sexual abuse were impelled to share their own experience as well.
Through this reckoning, many other leading figures in entertainment and media were exposed for inappropriate behavior, but more importantly, a conversation happened at the world level around the experience of surviving sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace.
One of the biggest fads of this decade was actually revisiting some of the most popular pop cultural juggernauts from bygone eras. Reboots and revivals were everywhere. From "Will & Grace" to "Beverly Hills, 90210" to "Roseanne," many of our favorite television shows from the 20th century returned for a very 21st century retelling. Some proved to be concepts that were better left in the history books, while others had successful modern-day iterations that provided just enough nostalgia for us to enjoy.