As difficult as 2020 was, there were plenty of pop culture moments that brought us comfort throughout the year. From heartwarming reunions to zeitgeisty streaming shows, here are some of the highlights that lifted our spirits.
Kelly Clarkson kicks off her talk show with a daily dose of her powerful pipes, and we can’t get enough. Whether covering soulful ballads, throwback hits or Christmas classics, Clarkson has proved that her signature vocals pair well with just about everything.
2. “Red Table Talk”
Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter, Willow Smith, and her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, had us captivated with the raw honesty of their Facebook Watch series. Jada and husband Will Smith's discussion on her "entanglement" with August Alsina, Will's account of how his upbringing led to unhealthy defense mechanisms, and the hosts' candid conversation on privilege with Olivia Jade Giannulli were just a few standout episodes.
The streaming giant gave us countless options to fill the time, including reality fare ("Love Is Blind," "Selling Sunset"), historical dramas ("The Queen's Gambit," "The Crown"), breakout docuseries "Tiger King" and Darren Star's delightful romp through the City of Light, "Emily in Paris."
4. Zoom reunions
Josh Gad's "Reunited Apart" brought together the casts of some of our favorite '80s movies ("Ghostbusters," "The Goonies," "Splash" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," which concluded with a star-studded tribute to John Hughes), while "Stars in the House" reunited many TV casts ("Family Ties," "Melrose Place," "One Day at a Time") and a host of Broadway musicals.
5. TV nostalgia podcasts
Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey dish on the Dunder Mifflin gang on their "Office Ladies" podcast. On "Zack to the Future," Mark-Paul Gosselaar breaks down episodes of the original "Saved by the Bell" alongside Dashiell Driscoll, the hilariously dry-witted creator of "Zack Morris Is Trash" and a writer on Peacock's "Saved by the Bell" reboot. On "The Beverly Hills, 90210 Show Videocast," writers/producers Charles Rosin and Larry Mollin and host Peter Ferriero revisit the famous zip code with the cast members behind fan-favorite characters — and staged an epic 30th anniversary reunion in October that featured more than three dozen actors, producers and writers who worked on the beloved teen drama. And "90210" stars Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling recently began reflecting on the show in their own podcast, "90210MG."
6. Jimmy Fallon's at-home episodes
When the coronavirus pandemic forced "The Tonight Show" to suspend production back in March, Jimmy Fallon made the best of the situation by hosting an at-home edition of the show with help from his adorable daughters, Winnie, 7, and Franny, 6, who even stepped in as his mini-band and announcers. He also inspired envy with the revelation that his home has a slide.
7. "Some Good News"
In late March, John Krasinski launched his web series devoted to featuring uplifting stories. The first eight episodes of "Some Good News" packed plenty of highlights, including a reunion with Steve Carell, the "Office" cast's re-creation of Jim and Pam's wedding dance scene for two fans tying the knot and a cameo from weatherman Brad Pitt.
The blockbuster musical became a cultural phenomenon with its modern retelling of founding father Alexander Hamilton's story. Broadway's hottest ticket became accessible to anyone with a Disney+ subscription in July, when the platform began streaming a filmed version featuring the original Broadway cast, including Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hamilton, Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr and Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton.
9. "Animal Crossing"
"Animal Crossing: New Horizons" became a pandemic pastime after its release in March for Nintendo's wildly popular Switch console. Interacting with the game's affable anthropomorphic critters while customizing an island village made quarantine a little less anxiety-inducing.