Our Top 10 Pop Culture Obsessions of 2011
ROYAL WEDDING BREAKOUT STARS
Yeah, Kate Middleton looked amazing. And yes, Prince William was charming. But we couldn't keep our eyes off the trifecta of fabulosity at the royal wedding: flower girl Grace van Cutsem, who was so over the cheering crowd; Princess Beatrice's toilet seat-meets-octopus Philip Treacy hat; and, of course, Pippa Middleton, the maid of honor who made a demure Alexander McQueen white dress look positively sexy.
"Hey, see that mailbox? I'm going to go lay on top of it." That's the gist of planking, an Internet trend that got people sharing photos of themselves in unlikely places. Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard got in on the craze this year, and they're not the only ones: Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and more stars practiced their "light as a feather, stiff as a board" poses.
The wannabe singer, 16, made headlines in June when she wed Lost actor Anthony Hutchinson, 51 – with her parents' consent. But it's her mature appearance and provocative Tweets that have made Stodden an Internet star. Sample Tweet (clearly written with a Thesaurus at hand): "Sensually stopping into a savory Starbucks to grab an exotic espresso and a sticky sweet treat - Have a very Tasty Tuesday everybody!"
This year, it was all about braiiiins. The Walking Dead returned – and brought along a rotten companion, The Talking Dead, a post-show talk show. Brad Pitt began filming World War Z, the movie version of Max Brooks's seminal zombie novel. Zombies took to the streets, too, with hundreds of "zombie walks" – where horror fans dress up as the undead and stagger through the streets – staged throughout the U.S. and as far south as Buenos Aires!
SWEET VALLEY CONFIDENTIAL
Did Jessica Wakefield ever grow up? Did Elizabeth and Todd find true love? And did Bruce Patman still have a Porsche with the 1BRUCE1 license plate? It was all answered in the year's guilty-pleasure read, Sweet Valley Confidential, a follow-up to the popular '80s Sweet Valley High books. "I run into people who have been Sweet Valley readers ... it seemed to have been a very important part of their adolescence," author Francine Pascal told PEOPLE. "I was thinking of them [when I wrote it.]"]
Haven't heard of the honey badger? That's OK, honey badger don't give a s–t. That's the message behind The Crazy Nastya– Honey Badger video, where narrator Randall offers his colorful commentary over a National Geographic video of the fearless honey badger. (Warning: explicit language. And while more that 23 million have watched his video, the nasty honey badger still doesn't care.)
She stole the show in the raucous summer comedy Bridesmaids as a boorish in-law of the bride. She nabbed an Emmy for her wickedly funny performance in Mike & Molly. And she was arguably the funniest SNL host since Justin Timberlake. No wonder Entertainment Weekly crowned McCarthy "The New Queen of Comedy."
TODDLERS & TIARAS
Is there a more polarizing topic than the world of child beauty pageants, captured on the hit TLC show Toddlers & Tiaras – with parents and critics debating whether they sexualize young girls, many of whom get waxed, plucked and spray-tanned for the pageants. And then there are the outfits: the show aired footage of one toddler dressed as Julia Roberts – in her Pretty Woman hooker dress.