2020 in review: Brexit, Megxit, Tiger King, DIY hairdos and so many Zoom calls
Written by Anita Ghosh
Tears. Tantrums. A tumultuous US election. The events of 2020 have been a viral-fuelled rollercoaster that would test the hardiest of souls. From political scandals to lockdown trends, we review what happened and when.
It’d be an understatement to say 2020 has been sheer chaos. The year the world had a moment; we’ll look back and wonder if it all really happened. So, given that quarantine time distortion is a real thing, here’s a round-up of the weirdest and wildest moments of the year.
The start of a new year, a new decade. Sure, Brexit’s looming, Megxit’s happened and there’s a World War III meme trending but we’re feeling optimistic. Especially as Brad and Jen are definitely getting back together (did you see the way he looked at her?) First mention of the c-word, but no plans to go to China anytime soon, so what’s the problem?
We crack on with our lives, oblivious to the pandemic looming. We have swift ones down the local, make fleeting friendships in club toilets and watch Parasite with a bunch of strangers after it makes history with its Oscar win for Best Picture. Weirdly, the only sign of what’s to come is Love Is Blind, a Netflix reality show featuring isolation pods, turbo relationships and not being able to see your date. Dating in 2020 summed up nicely.
COBRA meets with, or without, Boris, coronavirus cases rise and before we know it, we’re counting how many packets of pasta are in the cupboard and dodging strangers juggling 46 rolls of 2-ply in the street. By the end of the month, we enter our first lockdown. That’s okay though, we could kind of do with a break. All IRL activity is immediately transferred to Zoom and we’re soon attending our 10th quiz of the week, with one attendee dressed as a virtual potato, guaranteed.
Tiger King becomes our new obsession: intricate plotlines, insane twists and clashing animal prints, it’s the perfect antidote to the blandness of lockdown life. We start dressing like Carole Baskin and feel validated in swiping left to every man posing with a sedated tiger on Hinge. We wave goodbye to FOMO as everyone’s social life is obliterated, apart from Thursdays at 8pm, where we gather on doorsteps to #clapforourcarers.
We start rating our days, and ourselves, by productivity: if we haven’t learnt a new language, started a side-hustle or painted a masterpiece, we’re failing. That combined with another lockdown extension and we need some good news. Enter Captain Tom. A 99-year-old war veteran, aiming to raise £1,000 for the NHS by walking 100 lengths of his garden. Spoiler: by the time he turns 100 at the end of the month, he’s raised £33 million.
Elsewhere, personal grooming moves in-house, giving rise to the lockdown look: a trim (accidentally) turns into a fade (accidentally) turns into a shave. We download Couch to 5k, but unlike the rest of the world, can’t get past week three. Luckily, Joe Wicks, PE teacher for the nation, saves us and soon we’re creating some serious human drum ‘n’ bass for the neighbours downstairs.
By the end of April, we’ve tired ourselves out. We google “when will we be able to touch again?” and promise ourselves that when this is all over, we won’t take the small things for granted. We soothe our anxieties with banana bread and fuel our anxieties by accidentally waving at our ex on Houseparty.
As lockdown measures lift, the government changes its message to “stay alert, control the virus and save lives”. Confused, we add another shot to our Dalgona coffee. Day to dusk, the park becomes the epicentre of socialising with each trip involving a jogger vs. pedestrian stand-off as we dance around the invisible two-metre force.
Normal People is the hit of the summer. Sad, confused and slightly horny, it sums up the feelings of the nation. And, while we understand our crush with lead male, Connell Waldron, our borderline obsession with @connellschain we cannot. Think things couldn’t get weirder? Enter chief adviser to the PM, Dominic Cummings, who holds a press conference, to explain why he drove 25 miles to test his eyesight…
Not the same as dancing at Glastonbury with 200,000 strangers, we finally meet outside in groups of six. Repressing childhood memories of MySpace Top 8s, we agonise over friendship hierarchy, envisaging we’re that seventh friend excluded from team brunch. Hello, FOMO, my old friend.
Alas, all’s not lost if you are. Money saved on avo toast is better spent on Gwyneth Paltrow’s £75 new candle which smells like her Turkish rose orgasm anyway, right. And all hail new King of the North, Marcus Rashford. The Manchester United footballer’s powerful letter to the government urging them to keep free school meals results in a government U-turn.
Lockdown independence. Kinda. Social distancing is reduced to 1m; face masks are made compulsory in shops; restaurants, pubs and hairdressers open. We plan our staycations, wondering why we ever jetted off to Magaluf given such beauty on our doorstep? We remember why when Storm Edouard arrives and we defeatedly squelch back to the sofa.
Four months of lockdown has made us streaming connoisseurs and we’re in agreement that I May Destroy You is the best drama of the year. On the tin, it’s about consent but really, it’s so much more than that. It goes down as a masterpiece of modern times.
“Eat out to help out” isn’t the feminist slogan it first appears to be but fills our diaries with all the restaurants we couldn’t go to for the past six months. Any worries as to whether it’s actually safe to do so, quashed with 50% off the bill. We rush to the cinema to see Tenet but leave feeling confused.
Lockdown puppies overrun the park and there’s a noticeable rise in Instagram announcements featuring dogs rather than babies. We wonder how a dog could fit into our pokey flat with no garden and suddenly realise why everyone’s moved to Kent.
With no plans to return to the office, we doomscroll to fill our commute time. Docudrama The Social Dilemma gives us a wake-up call as to how our need for screen is controlling our lives. We claim we can live without it, deleting Facebook off our phone, only to download TikTok two hours later.
No surprise, Schitt’s Creek scoops 9 Emmy’s – it’s comforting, warm and a celebration of love in all its forms. Moira Rose becomes our new fashion idol and we realise that by comparison, perhaps our family isn’t that weird after all.
A new tier system is announced, a north-south divide comes into play and coronavirus is still raging. There’s so much going on that matters, yet we’re enthralled in the Dominic West saga. After pictures surface of West getting close to co-star Lily James, a bizarre series of events unravel, including a handwritten note, a very 90s photoshoot and him wearing the exact same outfit he was in 36 hours prior.
Emily In Paris becomes our dirty secret – and given it’s continuously in Netflix’s top 10 as well as trending on Twitter since its release, we doubt we’re the only ones. Yes, it’s bad television and covered in dodgy French clichés, but it provides the escapism we need.
As we enter another lockdown (is it too early to put the Christmas tree up yet?), Nigella’s soothing tones and reckless abandonment for calorie control provides comfort in her new series. We accidentally get embroiled in a Twitter debate with Glen from Hertfordshire on the best way to butter toast and the correct pronunciation of microwave.
We lose hours watching CNN, holding our breath as each state is called in the US election. One of the most significant events of 2020, Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump and Kamala Harris becomes the first woman, and woman of colour, to be elected vice president. We can’t remember feeling this hopeful.
Our diaries are empty, we miss the awkward office party and our Secret Santa leaked in the post. We hold crisis Zoom family conferences to devise intricate plans on how to spend Christmas together, questioning if it’s really worth the risk?
However, there’s light at the end of the tunnel when the first vaccine is administered in the UK to 90-year-old Margaret from Coventry. We all let out an exhale – yes, our plans vs. 2020 might have gone down the toilet but in the words of Captain Tom, “remember, the clouds will go away and the sun will shine again.”
There’s finally hope.
Images: Rattankun Thongbun/Getty, Netflix
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