2016 Recap: The Weird Things We Cared About This Year


I’ll start with my hardest-hitting Q: What the actual fuck happened this year!?!?! I mean that in the broadest sense, because the disease that was 2016 touched every corner of our lovable dirt ball of a planet this sun rotation, and I’m not even talking about Zika or celebrity deaths. Or really any of the serious stuff — of which there was, very seriously, overwhelmingly plenty. Because, if you kept an eye on the trending bar of your Facebook homepage, you’ll know it was a straight-up peculiar year from a pop-culture perspective, too.

Remember in January when Kylie was like, “I feel like every year has a new energy, and I feel like this year is really about, like, the year of just realizing stuff”?

We mocked her and then realized, like chumps, that Kylie Jenner is a genius. Consider this the #1 data point on my below cultural retrospective and join me in reviewing some of the weirdest shit of all: that which trended in 2016.

#2. Remember when Kanye West tweeted that he was $53 million in debt and asked Mark Zuckerberg for money? Remember when we thought it couldn’t get more surreal? Ha. Ha.

#3. And then in February, Chris Rock had to host an Oscars ceremony where nearly every nominee was white.

#4. At least Leo finally won his first Oscar?

#5. Should we talk about that weird video of Amber Heard and Johnny Depp apologizing to Australia for bringing dogs in? Wish I could say this was the most disturbing Amber/Johnny news of the year, but let’s not go there.

#6. Levity intermission: Beyoncé surprise dropped Lemonade and it was all anyone talked about for days. This was a high point. It wasn’t weird.

#7. Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna got engaged, then announced their pregnancy, then later named the kid DREAM KARDASHIAN, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

#8. GAME OF THRONES SPOILER AVERT THE EYES: Remember when Hodor died in the season finale and everyone put a photo of him in their elevators?!?!?!? WTF is wrong with us? I liked this one though.

#9. You probably don’t remember this, but a gorilla named Harambe died? A kid crawled in his zoo exhibit? And the groundskeeper had to shoot him? It was tragic. You probably don’t remember it.

#10. R.I.P. though.

#11. Hamilton, a musical about the government, swept the Tonys and everyone memorized all the songs without even having seen it and tickets to the show rose to like a million dollars per.

#12. Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris broke up and everyone was like, “This is a huge deal,” and then she got together with Tom Hiddleston within less than a fortnight and our planet spun off its axis. We called this short-lived era #hiddleswift and then came up with batshit conspiracy theories about the relationship being a hoax.

#13. The next month — we’re only in June at this point — Kanye West dropped his Famous music video, which depicted a ton of naked famous people, but in wax, and everyone flipped their shit. Including me.

#14. Netflix debuted a show called Stranger Things that everyone obsessed over. Thus ensued the Barb clone war that was Halloween.

#15. In July, Kim Kardashian snapchatted a recording of a call between Kanye West and Taylor Swift wherein Taylor gave Kanye consent to use her name in his song, something she denied doing in February. This was actual chaos. It was treated like a national emergency.

#16. Later that month, Gawker went under because Hulk Hogan (and Peter Thiel) sued it for defamation and made the company go broke. Gawker’s side! Thiel’s side! Don’t let the power of Hulk Hogan surprise you, that’s just what 2016 wants.

#17. Remember in August when Drake confessed his love for Rihanna on stage at the VMAs and she was like “Haha thanks” and then gave him her cheek when he went in for a kiss? Drake pls stop.

#18. Orlando Bloom paddleboarded naked with Katy Perry. It went viral. That’s all I’ve got on this one tbh.

#19. Ryan Idiot Lochte lied about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio, distracted everyone from the incredible display that is the Olympics, got famous as a result, went on Dancing With the Stars, got engaged, saw no consequences for his behavior. Go 2016!

#20. Brad and Angelina got divorced, love was pronounced dead for an internet minute (we were like, “No it’s not!”), tabloids had to change all their cover plans. It was rough for all media companies involved! Oh, and possibly for Brad and Angelina, too.

#21. Yeezy Season 4 was a dumpster fire. I meant that metaphorically but also it was literally hot and that was a contributing factor to how problematic it was. We talked about this at serious length.

#22. Pepe, acclaimed frog meme, became misconstrued as some sort of hate symbol. Then the artist behind Pepe did a bunch of interviews to “reclaim the meme,” which, honestly, couldn’t be more 2016.



#25. Kim Kardashian was robbed in Paris, haters said she deserved it, we said she didn’t, then — in what was perhaps one of the most shocking pop-culture moments of 2016 — she disappeared from Instagram. And still hasn’t returned!!! Check for yourself!

#26. “The mannequin challenge” became a thing, making people super-famous for not moving. Weird.

#27. Samsung Galaxy Note 7s started spontaneously combusting?????????????? 2016 is officially cursed.

#28. Penn Badgley bleached his hair. I’m sorry to put something actually important on this list, but it had to be included.

#PennBadgley now has blonde hair and a full beard. Thoughts???

A photo posted by PinkPerezInsta (@pinkperezinsta) on

#29. Everyone cared so much about the Gilmore Girls coming back even though no one had talked about Gilmore Girls in years, and then it came out and was kind of bad but no one really cared. The best thing to come out of all of it was when Harling did the Gilmore Girls diet.

#30. The rest of what trended was basically just offensive stuff Lena Dunham said and then apologized for later plus Kylie Jenner.

Happy Holidays everyone! May we make better stuff trend in 2017.

Feature collage by Emily Zirimis.

In the mood for 2016 recaps? We highly recommend New York Times’ The Year in Pictures.

Haley Nahman

Haley Nahman

Haley Nahman is the Features Director at Man Repeller.

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