Grab a Plate and Feast on the 2021 Pop Culture Moments We're Most Thankful For

Before all the eating begins, EOL staffers shared which reunited couples, re-recorded albums, bombshell interviews and more standout pop culture moments they're giving thanks for this year.

By Natalie Finn Nov 25, 2021 3:00 AMTags
Pop Culture We're Thankful For This Year, 2021CBS; NBC; HBO; Getty Images; Shutterstock; Disney+; E! Illustration

According to Starbucks and gift guides, the holidays are here.

But fear not, in reality it is still only November—though Thursday is Thanksgiving and why are you reading this, don't you have cooking to do and a table to set and a list of acceptable discussion topics to make?!

However, if you're busy taking a well-deserved break, then you've come to the right place. Because this is the time when we all look back on the year that's somehow already barreling to a close and take stock of where we (and our favorite celebrity couples, the TV shows we love, etc.) are at, and ideally stir up some rather fond memories.

And because Thanksgiving has the appropriate action built right into the name, we've been thinking extra hard about what went down in the world of pop culture in 2021, whether it was in days of yore (i.e. January) or in July or just last week, that we couldn't be more thankful for.

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It turned into quite the spread, with EOL staffers bringing their picks potluck-style to the table. Some committed wholeheartedly to a single dish while others brought all their favorites.

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So whether you too savored these very same things, forgot they happened (this year, or at all) or think we're out of our gourds, please enjoy sharing this feast of moments we're thankful for in 2021.

The Second Coming

Call me a sucker, but I'm all for the reunion of J.Lo and Benny from the Block. (Can we call him that now?) I can't help but feel as if maybe these two crazy kids were meant to be. Bring on the Uggs, the Juicy tracksuits and that long stowed away pink diamond and let's party like it's 2003!

—Sarah Grossbart, Senior Features Editor

Can You Hear Me Now?

I have to say that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's interview with Oprah Winfrey shook me to my core. Chills ran down my spine when Oprah asked, "Were you silent or were you silenced?" Iconic.

—Cydney Contreras, Writer

It Was Agatha All Along

Guarantee Kathryn Hahn's theme song from WandaVision, one of our favorite shows of the year, is now stuck in your head if it wasn't already permanently embedded there anyway. No one expected Marvel's first TV series to become quite the phenomenon it did. But thanks to Elizabeth Olsen's powerhouse performance as a grief-stricken Wanda, Hahn's delicious debut in the MCU as a snarky witch and fun nods to beloved sitcoms, including Full House, we were obsessed. Oh, and who can forget Evan Peters' surprise appearance as Fake Pietro/Quicksilver?

—Tierney Bricker, Editor

Undying Appeal

I am so grateful for What We Do in the Shadows, especially season three. Seeing Kayvan Novak's Nandor the Relentless happily doing aerobics in '80s gym shorts is the gift that keeps on giving.

—Kate Riley, Senior Editor

Charlie's Angel

Heading into 2021, about 98 percent of you had already downloaded TikTok. You knew Charli D'Amelio, memorized the dances and added sneaky link—or whatever the latest phrase was—to your vocabulary. But maybe you didn't know Charlie Puth, maybe you didn't understand his true musical genius. Until now. Thanks to Charlie's popularity on the app—we get it, you're turned on like a light switch—I'm not the only one counting down the days until he drops his new album. I may have more competition in trying to date him, but I'll survive.

—Jamie Blynn, Managing Editor

The Rise of the Holy Trinity

1. BRITNEY IS FREE. This one needs no explanation but after THIRTEEN years, she can drive her own car, buy her own candles, and (let's say a little prayer) tell her own story. We've said it once, we'll say it again: She's stronger than yesterday.

2. Lindsay Lohan is starring in a movie again, and that's totally grool.

3. Even though the gods are crazy, even though the stars are blind: Paris Hilton married the love of her life.

—Angela Cuseo, Social Media Editor

This Time It's Personal

I have covered news about Britney since before she was placed under a conservatorship. Her 13-year road to freedom had so many different shocking elements. Even people I know that do not follow entertainment news expressed genuine interest in her case after she broke her silence in a bombshell court testimony and after it was clarified further in a shocking NY Times docu-series. Britney's victory in her legal battle was a monumental moment in entertainment and pop culture history, not just in 2021.

—Corinne Heller, Editor

I am most thankful for being present in the courtroom on the day Britney Spears was legally deemed free. And not just then, but also when she bravely testified, when she got approval to hire her own lawyer and when Jamie Spears was formally suspended from the conservatorship. After reporting on Britney's legal battles for years, finally hearing Judge Brenda Penny utter the words "the conservatorship of Britney Jean Spears, the person and the estate, is hereby terminated," honestly nearly brought me to tears. This has personally been one of the most formative and inspiring experiences I've had covering a story to date—and I'm just so proud of our girl Britney! #FreedBritney ❤️

—Alli Rosenbloom, Senior Reporter

The One Where the Friends Cast Finally Came Back Together

Watching the Friends reunion felt like reminiscing with old friends from high school with a gathering that had laughter, tears, and even some surprising revelations (I still can't get over Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer admitting to crushing on each other in real life!). And the fact that it aired during a pandemic that left us all unable to be close to our own friends made it all the more special to watch the "friends" we for years spent a half hour with each week reunite. I'm thankful these friends were there for us in 2021.

—Meriam Bouarrouj, News Operations Associate

They cried (a lot), we laughed (just as much) and we learned that Ross and Rachel were almost a thing IRL. While this may not have been our day, our week, our month or even our year, we're very grateful that the Friends cast was there for us when the rain really started to pour.

—Sarah Grossbart, Senior Features Editor

Dammit, This Rocks

Last year Machine Gun Kelly released his punk album, and sure that was monumental for us millennials who grew up blasting Blink 182, but that was just beginning of what was soon to rock our worlds. Here are all the small things that added up:

After he bagged Megan Fox (still bitter), the ACTUAL BLINK 182 DRUMMER joined the scene. Straight out of our little emo dreams, Travis Barker started dating Kourtney Kardashian and our pop culture and punk worlds collided. Add to that, the two collaborated on music, walked red carpets together, made out in bathroom stalls and revived our dreams of being a Rockstar WAG. We all know that Gen Z has ruined side parts and skinnies for us, but if you saw us rocking bangs and a band tee again, no you didn't. (I'd also be remiss not to mention that Avril is back on the music scene with what really does feel like a sequel to "sk8tr boy.")

Who remembers being in the middle of a crowd at a punk show and TRULY believing that the lead singer would lock heavily lined eyes with you and fall madly in love? That's what this feels like again. Hope. Excitement. Pure. Punk. JOY.

Kourt got her happy ending and a giant rock, Megan got her man, we got it all. Pop punk is back. Turn the lights off, carry E! home.

—Angela Cuseo, Social Media Editor

Without a Doubt

After so much anticipation and excitement, I'm so thankful Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani were able to pull off the wedding of their dreams—in private! Instead of organizing a star-studded affair over Fourth of July weekend, the couple was simply surrounded by their immediate family and closest friends (Carson Daly, OMG!) in the great state of Oklahoma. Cheers to country lovin' and one of Hollywood's most underrated couples. 

—Mike Vulpo, Editor

Nomadland FTW

I'd have to say Chloé Zhao making history as the first woman of color to win Best Director at the Oscars!

—Deborah You, E! Style Collective Coordinator

Incidentally, Zhao is also only the second-ever woman to win after Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2010.

Just Cuz

I'm thankful for the amazing friendship Chris Evans and Lizzo developed after she slid into his DMs earlier this year. Look back at their viral social media exchange here and here, which is sure to make you feel good as hell.

—Elyse Dupre, Writer


It's reflective of my own background and who doesn't love a good cake-in-the-face moment.

—ElizaBeth Taylor, Writer

That's right, if you didn't think Angelina Jolie was the oh-so-relatable type to push her Eternals co-star Salma Hayek's face into a birthday cake, you were sorely mistaken.

A Much Better View

They are finally back! I'm so thankful that when season 25 of The View kicked off this fall, ABC found a way to safely bring Whoopi Goldberg, Sara Haines, Joy Behar and Sunny Hostin back together in the studio to have debates in person. As a loyal viewer, watching the co-hosts discuss serious topics like politics, race and social issues in a little Zoom box just wasn't the same experience. And while we appreciate everyone's virtual efforts, including Joy's husband serving as lighting director, the ladies' return helps prove this pandemic may actually be coming to an end.

—Mike Vulpo, Editor

Loving Her Is Red

As a big Taylor Swift fan, my favorite pop culture moment of the year has to be the debut of Red (Taylor's Version). Looking forward to singing/screaming the lyrics to "All Too Well" alongside my family this holiday season—all 10 minutes of it! And watching the music video on repeat, of course.

—Jess Cohen, Assignment Editor

Let this year forever be known as 2021 (Taylor's Version). Thank you to Taylor for keeping us entertained all year long as we decoded her cryptic clues, before being rewarded with the re-recordings of not one but two of her most nostalgic albums that brought us straight back to our school days. After spending more hours than we'd care to admit on SwiftTok, we couldn't have been more ready for Red (Taylor's Version) and the official start of Sad Girl Autumn. She knows all too well how to make us cry our eyes out—in the best way.

—Lindsay Weinberg, Writer

Who's Laughing Now?

You know who's funny? Pete Davidson. You know what's funny? How his dating roster has skyrocketed even further than Jeff Bezos.

Maybe it says something about me that I am as attracted to the heavily mismatched tattoos and the serial monogamy as to the fact that he most likely doesn't give a single f--k about me. (Don't worry, my therapist is making a lot of money on this sole topic.) However, the heart wants what it wants and for many of us that's literally just to laugh, to be wanted and to have fun, and holy eggplant emoji, Pete has done that for almost everyone in Hollywood.

—Angela Cuseo, Social Media Editor

Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson's hand-holding picture outside of the grocery store because it shows me that truly nothing is impossible with sheer determination and Pete Davidson-level charm. 

—Nicole Renna, Content Programming Coordinator

Real Housewives Gets Really Real

I will remember the memeification of Erika Jayne's conversation with Kyle Richards about the alleged robbery of her ex-husband Tom Girardi's house as long as I live. It's not what Erika was talking about, which is admittedly grim, but the way she said it—her cadence,  the run-on sentences, her final line of "Yeah, I'm under a lot of stress" bringing it all together—and, of course, all the memes, TikToks and even yard signs(?) produced as a result.

—Allison Crist, Writer, E! Shows

In the ultimate genre shakeup no one saw coming, the Bravo mega-franchise has taken a turn for the true crime this year, thanks to Erika Jayne and Jen Shah's respective legal woes. Erika's story about her ex-husband's house being broken into has become a meme for the ages, while the feds literally showing up on-camera to arrest Jen—which the editors masterfully used as the first scene for the season, a delicious crumb before gifting us the whole cookie—gave our goosebumps chills.

—Tierney Bricker, Editor

Erika filed for divorce from Tom in November 2020 after 21 years of marriage and the proceedings are ongoing.

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Adele's return. Hello?!

—Samantha Schnurr, Digital Editor

Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving!