25 Pop Culture Moments That Made Us Smile in 2020

Not everything was terrible in 2020! Here, some of the best moments in celebrity and entertainment from an otherwise difficult year 

01 of 25

The Super Bowl Halftime Show

Jennifer Lopez and her daughter Emme Maribel Muñiz
Jennifer Lopez and daughter Emme. Elsa/Getty

A good thing? Happening in 2020? We're just as shocked as you are. But these truly joyful celebrity moments helped get us through — starting in February (about 100 years ago, basically) when J.Lo and Shakira rocked the Super Bowl LIV stage. It was the first year two Latinx pop artists helmed the show, and both stars celebrated their heritage in beautiful ways. Plus, Lopez's daughter Emme sang onstage with her mom, and that surprise moment still makes us tear up a little.

02 of 25

Awards Show Triumphs

Writer-director Bong Joon-ho, winner of the Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, and International Feature Film awards for "Parasite," attends the 92nd Annual Academy Awards Governors Ball at Hollywood and Highland on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California
Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Both pre-pandemic IRL shows and post-pandemic virtual shows brought some historic wins and unbridled happiness to our couches this year. In February, Parasite took home four Academy Awards, with director Bong Joon Ho giving us the meme-able moment of making his Oscars kiss. In September, Zendaya's first Emmy win the same night as the Schitt's Creek sweep was pretty euphoric, David.

03 of 25

Brad Pitt as Dr. Fauci

Dr.-Fauci, brad pitt
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Brad Pitt.

Pitt had a lot of big moments this year, winning a SAG Award, Golden Globe and Oscar for his role in Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood, setting our hearts aflutter with two Jennifer Aniston reunions and landing a sexy new fashion campaign. But it was his brief turn as Dr. Anthony Fauci on an at-home version of SNL that set the Internet ablaze — and earned him an Emmy nod.

04 of 25

Meaningful Celebrity Donations

Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey/Instagram

The COVID pandemic highlighted great needs around the country: empty food banks, struggling charities, shortages of PPE for essential workers. Thankfully, many celebrities were there to help, making generous donations of cash — and in Matthew McConaughey's case, PPE — to a variety of worthy organizations.

05 of 25

The Verzuz Battle Series

Kamala Makes Surprise Appearance on Brandy Vs. Monica Verzuz
Verzuz/Youtube

Our personal favorite livestreamed quarantine events came by way of Instagram Live. The battle series, in which two prominent artists compete to decide who has the better catalogue, captured rap and R&B lovers around the world. But the one battle we'll never stop talking about was Brandy vs. Monica, who, in addition to delivering incredible performances, even squashed some old beef in the process.

06 of 25

So. Many. Impressions.

Chloe Fineman, Timothee Chalamet
Mary Ellen Matthews/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty; Kevork Djansezian/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty

From SNL's Chloe Fineman giving us her best Timothée Chalamet impersonation to Benito Skinner's hilarious and, well, creative take on Shawn Mendes, comedians have taken extra time on their hands this year to truly deliver. If you haven't yet seen Jordan Firstman's Instagram impressions, including the "Gen Z meditation" that dragged us all, please do so.

07 of 25

Matt James as The Bachelor

Matt James The Bachelor
Matt James in The Bachelor. ABC

Okay so his season doesn't technically start until Jan. 4, 2021, but the 2020 announcement of Matt James as the first-ever Black Bachelor made both fans and critics of the historically white franchise rejoice. And James himself is thrilled to get started.

"It's been nice, cause, to be honest with you, I've heard from a lot of my Black friends that aren't Bachelor Nation faithful, that are excited about me and are honored I'm in the position I'm in and have this opportunity to just represent what it's going to look like to have diverse relationships and tell those love stories," he told host Chris Harrison. "I couldn't be more excited about that."

08 of 25

Videos from #TheBossHouse

If you aren't following dancers Allison Holker and Stephen "tWitch" Boss on Instagram or TikTok, you're missing out. The couple and their adorable kids have been dancing nonstop since quarantine started, always with big, contagious smiles on their faces.

09 of 25

Mainstream Mask Wearing

lady gaga

Some of our favorite stars demonstrated that you can wear a mask to protect yourself and others — and do so looking flawless. In the summer, Lizzo rocked a matching face mask and bikini while posing in the pool. Patrick Dempsey looked like the responsible man of our McDreams in a selfie. And Lady Gaga wore five (yes, five) different masks during the MTV VMAs.

10 of 25

A Slew of Animal Adoptions

Bubba Wallace puppy
Bubba Wallace/Twitter

So many celebs fostered and adopted animals this year, including Bubba Wallace (pictured), Selena Gomez, J.Lo and A-Rod and Kaia Gerber. It was a victory for overcrowded shelters in many locales.

11 of 25

The Disney Family Singalongs

Katy Perry
Katy Perry/Instagram

The magic of Disney made life a little brighter in April and May (and again around the holidays), bringing together singing celebrities to perform Disney favorites in hour-long specials geared toward hunkered-down families. A highlight: Katy Perry dressed up as Mrs. Jumbo with her dog Nugget as Dumbo for a rendition of "Baby Mine" on Mother's Day.

12 of 25

Zoom Cast Reunions

Fran Drescher And The Original Cast Of The Nanny Will Reunite For Virtual Table Read

We loved and hated Zoom this year, but it was on our good sides when it brought together beloved casts like that of The Nanny. Fran Drescher & co. reunited in April for a virtual table read of the pilot of '90s favorite, serving up all the style and flair.

13 of 25

Nathan Apodaca's Viral TikTok

Nathan Apodaca Ocean Spray
Nathan Apodaca. Ocean Spray

The Idaho Falls resident became a mini-icon in the fall when he posted a TikTok of himself skateboarding while drinking cranberry juice to the tune of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams." The video took off, and Ocean Spray noticed, gifting Apodaca a new car.

14 of 25

Hamilton Coming to Disney+

(2020) hamilton
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr. in Hamilton. disney +

For those who couldn't make it to Broadway, or those who wanted to watch it again ... and again ... and again, Hamilton's July arrival on Disney's streaming platform was a poignant bright spot in a politically charged year.

15 of 25

Everything Harry Styles

Harry Styles Premieres 'Watermelon Sugar' Music Video
Courtesy of Columbia Records

Though we couldn't see the singer in person this year, he still managed to charm his way through 2020 with his "Watermelon Sugar" video, Variety cover and random acts of kindness. As his Don't Worry Darling costar Chris Pine said, "He's off-the-charts cool."

16 of 25

John Krasinski's Some Good News

John Krasinski Hamilton

The actor launched a seriously feel-good YouTube series early in the pandemic, highlighting real people and creating magic moments like reuniting his The Office costars and the original Broadway cast of Hamilton, as well as throwing a virtual prom featuring performances by The Jonas Brothers and Billie Eilish. In the spring, Krasinski announced the series would be heading to ViacomCBS.

17 of 25

The Royals Talking to David Attenborough

In possibly one of the cutest Instagram videos ever, Prince Will and Kate Middleton's kids Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis asked naturalist Sir David Attenborough about his favorite animals and adventures. Do you like spiders, too?

18 of 25

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City

Real Housewives of Salt Lake City
Bravo

Turns out a new Housewives franchise was just what the doctor ordered for Bravo fans. A surprisingly diverse group of women have more to talk about than Mormonism, bringing to light the glitz and social constructs of Utah's somewhat mysterious capital city.

19 of 25

Megan Thee Stallion Doing the 'Savage' Challenge

Megan Thee Stallion performs onstage for the 2020 American Music Awards
Megan Thee Stallion. Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcp

The singer took notice of people dancing to her hit "Savage" on TikTok and decided to join in on the fun, learning the moves herself. Once Megan posted her video, both the song and its corresponding challenge "went super crazy," she told PEOPLE, adding that she and a friend "literally sat in the kitchen for like 20 minutes trying to get this dance down pat."

20 of 25

The Home Edit

the home edit
John Shearer/Netflix

Who doesn't love a rainbow? Professional organizers Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin came into our lives via Netflix and Reese Witherspoon, showing us how to sort by color and clear the clutter.

21 of 25

Tyler Perry's Generosity

star tracks 11/16/2020 - tyler perry
Christopher Polk/Getty

The big-hearted humanitarian has a history of covering the expenses for rent, funerals and college education for those in need, particularly in his Atlanta community. Most recently, Perry volunteered to cover funeral expenses for 8-year-old Secoriea Turner, and for Rayshard Brooks, a Black man killed by police. Perry will also cover the college education of Brooks' four children.

In July, Perry donated 1,000 Kroger gift cards to Atlanta residents, enlisting local police officers to go door-to-door to hand them out in an effort to "bridge unity" in the community.

And to ease the financial strain caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Perry paid for all the groceries belonging to elderly shoppers at 44 Kroger stores in Atlanta and 29 Winn Dixie stores in his native New Orleans this April.

22 of 25

Anderson Cooper's Son Wyatt

anderson cooper and his son wyatt
Anderson Cooper and his son Wyatt Morgan. Courtesy Anderson Cooper

Those eyes, those cheeks, those lips ... Wyatt was PEOPLE's Cutest Baby Alive this year, and it's easy to see why.

"It feels like my life has actually begun," Cooper told PEOPLE in June about entering parenthood.

"I sort of wonder, what was I waiting for? This is a new level of love," he continued. "It's unlike anything I've experienced, and yet it's also very familiar and incredibly special and intimate. It's really extraordinary."

23 of 25

The Smithsonian Zoo's New Baby Panda

baby panda
Smithsonian's National Zoo

Xiao Qi Ji was born on Aug. 21 at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C., during a fast and easy delivery. The pink, hairless cub weighed about 4 oz. at birth and is now a fast-growing furball. Still less than 15 lbs., the little guy is showing a spunkiness — he even barked at his mom recently!

24 of 25

Princess Beatrice's Surprise Wedding

Embargoed: Not for publication or onward transmission before 2200 BST Saturday July 18, 2020. Princess Beatrice wedding
Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. Benjamin Wheeler/PA

With her initial plans derailed by COVID, Princess Beatrice went ahead and married fiancé Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi on July 17 at Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor Great Park. Only a small group of around 20 close friends and family, including the Queen and Prince Philip, were invited to catch sight of Beatrice walking down the aisle at the private ceremony, which had to be rescheduled from its original May 29th date. The post-ceremony photos of Queen Elizabeth gazing lovingly at her granddaughter — who wore a borrowed dress of the Queen's — were priceless.

25 of 25

President Obama's Incredible 3-Pointer

The former president nailed it on Oct. 31, making a three-pointer while walking out of a gym in Flint, Michigan, during a campaign stop for now-President-Elect Joe Biden.

"That's what I do!" Obama exclaimed from behind his mask while walking off the court, as Biden trailed behind, saying simply, "Whoa!"

Related Articles