The content that defined our 2020
As a collective culture, we consumed more in 2020 than ever before. From sourdough to our screens, here are the best bits of content to come out of our most challenging year.
20. @MaddyLucyDann on IG and TikTok
She's British, she's a doctor, she's over 6 foot, and she makes quality content. Maddy's content covers everything from pimples with names to COVID vaccine updates to videos of her with tiny Cornettos. She was one of the many influencers who took off during COVID, and one of the best. Check out her Instagram.
19. Promising Young Woman
Unlike any movie I've seen before. Emerald Fennell creates a comedic, dark masterpiece and dramatically alters the views I held of Carey Mulligan's repertoire (which I believed to be mostly just period dramas on repeat). With an incredible soundtrack, wardrobe and cast to match, this film is one of the first organic answers to #MeToo. Promising Young Woman leans into the tacky, the violent and emerges as an unforgiving and authentic representation of fourth wave feminism.
18. A Promised Land
You already know this one and if you are even remotely interested it's probably already in your bookshelf.
Mmm, volume one. Love that.
17. Good Movies as Old Books
Some of my favourite, favourite, favourite content from this year. Matt Stevens art is garnering serious attention online. His prints are fascinating, particularly from this range of stylised movie posters as antique book coverings. The shipping from the United States hurt my bank but for a much higher purpose, to feel cool when I see these groovy old school posters above my loo.
16. Breasts and Eggs
The Guardian outlines the premise best, does a body’s ability to become pregnant and nurse a child – that is, the possession of breasts and eggs – determine the fate of that body? For impoverished novelist Natsuko, the protagonist of Mieko Kawakami’s Japanese bestseller, motherhood and self-sacrifice seem to encapsulate the experience of working-class women. But she wonders: can breasts and eggs give rise to liberation? What makes a person free?
This is a short novel focused on feminism and the body, and is included in every important book list of 2020. It did not disappoint, an absolutely stellar recommendation.
15. NYT column, 'The Children of Pornhub'
Nicholas Kristof's extensive investigative column on Pornhub's infestation with rape videos. This piece is powerful, and initiated real change with Pornhub removing every bit of unverified content (the majority of it's content) following prolonged pressure from partners including Visa and Mastercard and important investigative journalism like Kristof's piece.
Yet there’s another side of the company: Its site is infested with rape videos. It monetises child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags. A search for “girls under18” (no space) or “14yo” leads in each case to more than 100,000 videos. Most aren’t of children being assaulted, but too many are.
Read the full article here.
14. Plastic Hearts
Miley Cyrus's number #1 rock album was a game changer. Midnight Sky is undoubtedly the most electric song on the record, BUT, it is absolutely Miley's homecoming album. Finally, her production reflects the musical field she has been excelling in for the majority of her career. With features from Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks and Billy Idol - this album networks itself as one of the greatest modern rock albums, with a listener base which wouldn't usually dabble in the field. Standout performers include Angels Like You and Golden G String.
13. Normal People TV series
Unusually, the TV show was better than the book of the same name authored by Sally Rooney. The story attempts to be about a young, relatable Millennial couple in Ireland. In our opinion, it slightly misses the mark with the relatable aspect, but it was a show that gripped a significant percentage of the world. It was also a nice change to hear some Irish accents on a famous show, in stark contrast to the usual American twang. You can watch it the show on Stan.
12. @Frooomes on Instagram
If you aren't following Ms Lucinda Froomes Price, you've missed a bit part of 2020. This year, Froomes was made redundant and exited her job at the well-known Pedestrian TV, and made a bang with her two-part IG Reels series about her lip injections gone wrong. She's just a genuinely hysterical woman whose public persona is made up of a huge crush on Shane Warne, extremely eccentric fashion, and about 45 inside jokes that her 30k+ followers are in on. Follow her on the Gram.
11. Tiger King
No commentary needed, it's more just crazy that this show was released in 2020.
Also, I don't think Carole killed her husband tbh.
The doco-series Cheer follows arguably the top cheer squad in the US, Navarro College, as they train for a national competition. The show has been tainted with child phonography charges against one of the crowd favourites, Jerry. The show was excellent and for a few months, Instagram feeds all over the world were filled with cheerleader content, but after the news about Jerry, we probably won't be watching the show again. But you can decide for yourself. There was a Season 2 confirmed, but put on hold due to COVID restrictions. It's unclear whether the show will be back in 2021. Watch on Netflix.
My favourite docu-series of the year. This four-part, four hour perfect piece of propaganda opened my eyes to the life of one of the most progressive second wave feminists and her role in American politics through the lens of her various prominent roles, particularly in policy making.
Available via SBS on Demand.
8. Everyone Has an Ex podcast
Everyone Has an Ex, as the name suggests, features stories of people who have loved and been loved, but ultimately parted ways. The show features some famous guests and some everyday folk who have fascinating stories of love, deceit, heartbreak, and loss. Not many podcasts can capture an audience like this on. The pod is hosted by Georgia Love, who narrates the stories.
Much like 'Inside Out', Disney PIXAR's 'Soul' addresses some big ideas about life and death - yet again pushing the boundaries of your conventional children's movie. Released on Christmas day, this streaming service release was moving, exciting and perfect night relaxation viewing after a massive week of socialising.
The plot line?
Joe is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn't quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz -- and he's good. But when he travels to another realm to help someone find their passion, he soon discovers what it means to have soul.
6. The Comey Rule
This doco series was one of the best pieces of content to come out of 2020. No matter where you stand on Hillary, Trump, the 2016 election, or US politics in general, this two-part series is fascinating. It's intercut with snippets from real 2016 news breaks and poses many questions of morality and ethics. It's based on James Coney's recount and book, but has been dramatised for TV. An excellent and thoughtful watch. Watch on Stan.
5. The NYT's, Modern Lovepodcast
The New York Times's incredibly popular essay column, 'Modern Love', has a TV show and podcast to accompany contemporary relationships, dating, familial and platonic love. Exploring the deepest corners of the human experience in an insightful and often thought-provoking package. I would highly recommend the pod as a lens to welcome you to the Modern Love world. At around thirty minutes, it's an accessible and moving listen.
If you haven't seen it, you've been living under a rock. Two hours and forty minutes of theatrical perfection and the soundtrack on repeat in my brain at all times.
3. Liana Finck Cartoons
Liana Finck was, is and remains my favourite Instagram account. Her cartoons are simple yet explosive.
Taylor Swift's first release of 2020 was her best ever. Folklore rejects the high-gloss, stadium pop Swift has been producing in the four studio albums which preceded this warm folk dream. Folklore is an intoxicating collection of Taylor in a post-pop era. Folklore holds up a mirror to the culture of 2020, resetting social standards through spacey tracks and poetic lyrics. Folklore is raw Swift talent, void of the usual exuberant marketing and branding strategy Swift fans have become accustomed to. Evermore falls at the feet of Folklore, but they remain an elegant pairing.
Folklore is the album of the year.
1. The Vanishing Half
This book was on every 'best of' list in 2020, and for good reason. Brit Bennett tells creates an incredible story through the Vignes twins. After growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same place she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. A powerful story of race, identity and family.
I devoured this book in the last week of 2020 and it shot straight to spot one. It is my ultimate recommendation of the year.