Top 10 Pop Culture Moments We're Thankful For This Year

The Masked Singer. Colton Underwood's ability to jump fences. The existence of Lizzo. For these things—and so many others—we're so f--king grateful this Thanksgiving.

By Sarah Grossbart 28 Nov, 2019 11:00 AMTags
Pop Culture Moments We're Thankful For: Jennifer Aniston, Lizzo, Meghan Markle, Archie, Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Billy PorterABC/Getty Images/E! Illustration

Thanksgiving is a time for a lot of things. 

It's a day of parade floats and football, of mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie and, yes, even turkey. And, at the heart of the holiday: a day for giving thanks. Here at E!, that takes the form of counting the blessings bestowed upon us by the celebrities we hold so dear. And boy were they giving in 2019. 

They graced us with viral phenomena (nope, still can't do the bottle cap challenge), their artistic genius (see: everything from Fleabag to Kylie Jenner's "Rise and Shine"), moments that left us scratching our heads (still hoping T.I.'s comments were part of some attention-seeking ruse, TBH), heartstring-tugging photos of their beautiful children (bless, Chrissy Teigen and Hilary Duff) and weddings we couldn't hope to emulate, but can still live vicariously through. Who wouldn't want to married by an Elvis impersonator and then again in the south of France

Watch: Necessary Realness: Joe & Sophie's French Wedding

There are obviously far more than 10 moments we could recognize here, but, c'mon people, we've got parades to watch and tryptophan-induced naps to enjoy. So, in no particular order as we couldn't hope to pick our very favorites, we recognize this joyous day of thanks with this list of blessings Hollywood has bestowed upon us this year. 

Prince Harry welcomes a tiny twin.

Boy or girl, titled or not, we would have been popping champagne for the May arrival of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's first child, currently seventh in line to take the throne. (In other words, able to live a privileged life without the pressures of one day serving as monarch.) But that he turned out to be an impossibly cute ginger just like Dad—with the name Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor to boot, well, that was just some royally good news. 

The rise of Lizzo.

[Insert good as hell pun here.] There's much that can be said of the Detroit-born, Houston-bred musician, toiling for many years—and through one vow of silence—before enjoying this breakout year. She kicked off January with a raucous performance of her now-ubiquitous single "Juice" on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, rode the wave of number one hits, big screen cameos and Coachella performances and capped it all with eight Grammy nominations, the most for any artist. 

Outspoken, boisterously confident and real, well, as hell, the two-time Soul Train Music Awards winner is 100 percent that b--ch and we are 100 percent here for it. 

The formation of The J-Sisters.

Sure, we were all excited when the Jonas Brothers announced they were coming out of retirement six years after they unceremoniously split—the breakup being particularly shocking considering the bandmates would still be getting together every Christmas and for other family events. 

But the February release of their return single "Sucker" and subsequent video gave us so much more than seeing Kevin, Joe and Nick back together. With each bro happily coupled up, it made sense to include Danielle Jonas, Sophie Turner and Priyanka Chopra in the video, Nick explained. "We knew that context needed to be given about where we are now," he told Cigar Aficionado. "And I think the biggest piece of that puzzle is those three incredible women who stand by our side. And they stole the show in our video."

And just like that, the J-Sisters were formed, with the Jonas wives (each separately committed to their own thriving careers), making the time to turn up to the boys' concerts and award show performances, well aware that their presence was at least part of the draw. Besides, as Chopra shared with ELLE UK, they truly like hanging out: "I've never had a sister, so it's really nice to have Danielle and Sophie, and just inheriting the family by proxy."

Jennifer Aniston does it for the 'gram.

After years of insisting she wasn't there for social media, Aniston finally relented and joined Instagram this October—then promptly broke the platform as fans clamored to follow her. 

As far as first posts go, hers was pretty much perfect. Really, a simple selfie would have likely garnered plenty of buzz and excitement, but Aniston (having spent a few weeks doing her research) went for it, giving fans a glimpse of a recent get together she'd had with her old Friends costars Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer.

The countless celebs welcoming her aboard (and endless "the one where Jen joins Instagram" jokes) proved what we all knew to be the case: Aniston taking to social media is a phenomenon that's not that common, doesn't happen every day and is a big deal. 

Billy Porter's red carpet presence.

It began at the Golden Globes when the Pose star's embroidered Randi Rahm suit and hot pink satin-lined cape combo left even red carpet veterans' jaws agape. But Porter truly cemented his place on every future best dressed list with his Oscars ensemble—a custom Christian Siriano tuxedo jacket atop a luxuriously velvet strapless ballgown. And this was before he was carried into the Met Gala by six shirtless men.  

When it comes to the red carpet, we stan someone who manages to be equal parts extra and elegant, a delicate balance that's rarely achieved. Throw in a dash of humility and you've got this Billy Porter appreciation post. 

"I have always loved fashion," he told E! News at the Emmys, wearing another killer Michael Kors Couture number. "I don't know that fashion icon was in the lexicon, but if people are saying that about me, I'm fine with it. I've always loved fashion and I'm so happy to have the place to do it. I'm grateful I've lived long enough to see the day where I can stand inside my authenticity, and be who I am and have it be received this way. It's gorgeous and it's a gift and it's a blessing."

The Masked Singer.

If we're being honest, the premise sounded more than a little ridiculous: celebrities, clad in head-to-toe costume, battle it out in song while a panel of judges try to determine just who's under the masks.

But when the reality show, based on a South Korean series called King of Mask Singer, premiered on Fox this January, having gotten the likes of Tori Spelling, Rumer Willis and winner T-Pain to agree to go deep undercover to compete for a trophy and bragging rights, it was an instant success, the highest-rated unscripted debut in more than seven years. 

Now, with fans doing deep dives trying to figure out just who the damn butterfly is, it's secured its place in the pantheon of hit reality television shows, with season three already set to premiere after The Super Bowl, a choice TV spot previously enjoyed by This Is Us, New Girl, Grey's Anatomy and Friends

J. Lo says yes to A-Rod.

Even when you know something's coming, it can still be plenty thrilling. Such was the case when this match made in celebrity nickname heaven revealed the news we'd all been anticipating since they got together in early 2017: Jenny From the Block had agreed to forever with the Bronx Bomber. 

The details didn't disappoint either. The retired third baseman selected a massive emerald-cut diamond befitting the multi-hyphenate and then practiced for three consecutive days to time the Bahamian sunset just right. "One time the sunset was at 6:27, the next day it was like 6:29 and then the third day, it was raining," he relayed on The Tonight Show a month after he got down on one knee in March. "So, I kind of came out around 6:29 and said this is the time I'm going to do it and it worked out well." 

Uh, yeah, it looked all right. And with Lopez's vow that their 2020 nuptials will be "a big wedding", we're just going to pencil it in as one of the events we'll be grateful for next year.

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga give us chills.

The earworm of the year became the talked about Oscars performance when Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper took the stage to sing a stripped-down rendition of "Shallow". The chill-inducing chemistry that earned them both acting honors for A Star Is Born sent those shipping the pair far off the deep end into the many conspiracy theories about the duo's supposed real-life romance. 

It turned out they really were just that good. "I mean, we made a love story. For me, as a performer and as an actress, of course we wanted people to believe that we were in love," she shared with Elle's December issue. "And we wanted people to feel that love at the Oscars. We wanted it to go right through the lens of that camera and to every television that it was being watched on."

But now that they're both single, tell me something girl, why can't they be together IRL? 

That. Fence. Jump.

From the moment ABC began hyping it as the most dramatic event ever, we had our doubts. And the skepticism only magnified as they spent the whole of Colton Underwood's season on the beloved love hunt plugging a fence jump that felt like it would never come. But when the former NFL tight end finally made the leap in the ninth episode this March, we were appropriately chastened. Because we'd argue host Chris Harrison chasing his lead through the darkened streets of Algarve, Portugal is actually pretty dramatic. 

Much like the rose dispenser himself, we expected there'd be a crew waiting on the other side of the gate. Instead, he was able to get away for a few precious head-clearing moments. "I was done with the show completely," he would later explain to E! News. "I took my mic off, I jumped the fence, and I was gone. I just was over the show. The whole point of the show is to come and find love and I found love...and you guys saw the rest of it."

The coda, of course, saw him battling for his final pick, now-girlfriend Cassie Randolph. And more than a year removed from the tension, he's been able to adopt an all's well that ends well mentality. Plus, there was an upside he discovered while watching it back. "At least y'all forgot about my virginity," he tweeted, referencing the season's other over-played plot point. "Thanks fence." 

The advent of Hot Girl Summer.

Thanks to breakout rapper Meghan Thee Stallion—already cited on Time's list of rising stars—and the artwork on her Fever album, the unfathomably warm months of June, July and August were transformed into Hot Girl Summer with hordes of women, and more than a few men, taking to social media to unabashedly love on themselves. If you didn't declare your own hot girl moment, did you even Internet this year?

"It's about women and men being unapologetically them, just having a good-ass time, hyping up their friends, doing you," the MTV Video Music Award winner explained to The Root. "You definitely have to be a person who can be the life of the party and just a bad b--ch."

And no need to put that to bed now that colder temps are here, she shared with E! News at the AMAs: "It's a hot girl year! Get yourself together, drink water and summer will be back."

And for that, and so many other things, we're so f--kin' grateful.