‘Tiger King,’ Verzuz battles and TikTok dances: Revisiting early quarantine pop culture
Tiger King. Livestream concerts. Embarrassing ourselves trying to learn TikTok dances.
When COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic a year ago Thursday, many turned to pop culture for some normalcy and distractions in the face of uncertainty. The pandemic isn’t over, but the entertainment industry has continued to provide new obsessions over the course of the past year.
We’re looking back on the entertainment we consumed when the pandemic was made official, compared to what pop culture moments we’re excited about in the present and near future.
Then: ‘Tiger King’
Netflix’s wild true-crime docuseries “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” reigned supreme at the beginning of COVID-19 lockdowns in the U.S. The story of Joe Exotic vs. Carole Baskin and all the other equally eccentric side characters sparked memes, Halloween costumes, spinoff series and momentarily helped people escape from the real-time “mayhem” happening amid the pandemic.
‘Tiger King’ recap:Joe Exotic’s journey from big cats to the Big House after murder for hire
Remember this? Carole Baskin makes ‘Dancing with the Stars’ debut to ‘Eye of the Tiger’
Now: ‘Framing Britney Spears’
From one talker documentary to another: The New York Times’ foray into Britney Spears’ controversial conservatorship had fans reminiscing about early 2000s pop music and, more importantly, sparked important conversations about how young female stars have been portrayed in media.
Then: TV and movie Zoom reunions
Lockdown originally shut down film and TV sets, which meant new content on from traditional mediums was harder to come by (see: our obsession with TikTok). But celebrities didn’t let that stop them from joining together via Zoom for makeshift reboots and reunions. Some of our favorites included “Parks and Rec,” “Mean Girls” and “Back to the Future.”
Now: New TV episodes with COVID-19 storylines
Some sets have since been able to reopen with COVID safety protocols in place. The resurgence of our favorite TV shows and new movies has ushered in an era of COVID-themed storylines, like ones seen on “This is Us,” “Superstore,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Love in the Time of Corona.”
Then: At-home, live-streamed concerts
With concert venues shut down, musicians turned to the internet for scaled back, at-home shows via livestream. Some were charity benefits, like the #TogetherAtHome series featuring Chris Martin of Coldplay, Common and Hozier; some were battles between big stars, like Verzuz’s Nelly vs. Ludacris and Brandy vs. Monica shows; and others were artists just jamming out on their own, like Pink, John Legend, and Katharine McPhee and David Foster. With nowhere to go, having a live event to tune into felt all the more special.
Now: Live (and socially-distanced) performances at the Grammys
Other than a handful of drive-in concerts (and some CDC-defying packed shows), the world of live music hasn’t really opened up yet. Which makes music lovers all the more excited for Sunday’s Grammy Awards, where a myriad of our favorite stars including Taylor Swift, BTS, Bad Bunny and Harry Styles are taking the stage for live and socially-distanced performances.
Grammys 2021:How to watch, performer lineup and what’s happening during the music awards
Then: ‘Don’t Start Now’ by Dua Lipa
This anthem to saying “good riddance” to ex lovers seemed to be everywhere in the early months of 2020, though it was first released in late 2019. The lyrics “don’t show up, don’t come out” took on a new meaning amid stay-at-home orders, but mostly fans loved having a bop to sing along to while not having anywhere to show up to anyway.
Now: ‘Drivers License’ by Olivia Rodrigo
If you haven’t screamed this song at the top of your lungs at least once, you’re doing 2021 wrong. The breakout (and breakup) single from 18-year-old “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” star Rodrigo is perfecting for reminiscing about high school drama and provides an enthralling alleged Disney love triangle.
Then: TikTok dances
When Gen Zers (and some super cool millennials, too) were first getting a feel for quarantine, it’s safe to say many were “bored in the house” and “in the house bored.” The solution: Viral TikTok dances, which users on the video social media app attempted to learn – some of us better than others. Some favorites in the early stages of quarantine: Jason Derulo’s “Savage Love,” Benee’s “Supalonely” and Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage.”
Now: Celebrities on TikTok
Us regular folks weren’t the only ones to join the TikTok bandwagon this past year – it’s now commonplace to see big stars like Lizzo, Miley Cyrus, John Mayer pop up on the “For You Page.” (Jason Derulo gets extra points for being the first major star to captivate fans with over-the-top, high quality content before most others joined.)
Then: John Krasinski’s ‘Some Good News’
Another early quarantine solution to a lack of new shows: “The Office” star John Krasinski made his own. The online talk show, which he shot at home with the aim of lifting people’s spirits with only positive stories, gained a massive fan base in its two months of shows and (virtually) welcomed high-profile guests including Brad Pitt, Chance the Rapper, Samuel L. Jackson, Stanley Tucci, George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey.
Now: John Krasinski’s ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ and a potentially normal-ish summer movie theater lineup
Some states have begun reopening movie theaters and studios are starting to release some blockbuster titles the old-fashioned way (like, not online) within the next few months, which means hopeful moviegoers may have a shot at a summer of movies that looks more like what we’re used to. (Though mask-wearing, social distancing and the like are still important to implement.) Among the big titles scheduled for release soon: Marvel’s “Black Widow” (May 7), “A Quiet Place Part II” (May 28), and “Top Gun: Maverick” (July 2).
15 films we (hopefully!) will see in a movie theater in 2021, from ‘Suicide Squad’ to ‘Top Gun 2’