30 Pop Culture Moments We’re Thankful For This Year

Photo: Philip Ramey/Getty Images.
As many of us prepare for what will surely be one of the more...interesting Thanksgiving dinners on record, given the state of our union, Refinery29’s Entertainment team gathered to reflect on what we’re most thankful for this year.

However surreal and unsettling the world may seem sometimes, pop culture is always right there like a trusted friend when you need one most. It can provide a bit of temporary escape, if that’s what you crave. Or it can even open your eyes to new ways of seeing and experiencing the world. Marveling at our favorite celebrities' latest hijinks, cuing up a standout album, or binge-watching a gripping new series has the power to lift us up and stoke our imaginations.

Let’s face it: 2016 will not go down as a bright spot in history. We lost Bowie and Prince. We watched our crush on Ryan Lochte careen disastrously off the rails. The wounds of this election cycle run deeper than anyone imagined they would. So, we’re taking a moment to be grateful for some of the uplifting times: the laughs, the viral memes, and the celebrity babies — and full-grown humans — that became our screen savers at work.

From our family to yours, here are 30 pop culture moments we’re thankful for this year.
1 of 31
Dream Kardashian
“Oh, Dream. Dreamy, Dream, Dream. You are the light at the end of the disastrously dark tunnel that has been 2016. I am so thankful that you made it into this word to continue on the Kardashian legacy, and to provide an abundance of puns about how much of a 'dream' you are. I can't wait to see what products you endorse on social media.”
— Morgan Baila, trend entertainment writer
2 of 31
Sad Ben Affleck
“Ben Affleck is deeply unhappy. He knows Batman v Superman was not good. He knows he's mucked things up with Jennifer Garner. He knows that he'll never have Matt Damon's clout. Lately he's become the living, sighing embodiment of Jeb Bush saying, ‘Please clap.’”
— Hunter Harris, editorial assistant, entertainment
3 of 31
“First and foremost, I, Arianna G. Davis, am most grateful for the pure existence of Aubrey Graham. Yes, I am grateful for Drake's performance abilities, which I just so happened to take in not once, but three times in one weekend, when he was in New York for his Summer Sixteen Tour — and yes, I am grateful for his latest album, Views. But of course, I am most grateful for this photo, which spent a solid six weeks as the wallpaper on my iPhone.”
— Arianna Davis, entertainment features writer
4 of 31
"I'm thankful for the delightfully effed-up Fleabag and the caustic wit of the woman who created her, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. I'd be even more thankful if we got another season or two, but her Killing Eve spy series has me intrigued."
— Erin Donnelly, London contributor
5 of 31
Photo: REX/Shutterstock.
Lindsay Lohan’s Accent
“Nobody expected for Lindsay Lohan to invent her own accent this year, but then again, when has Lohan done anything that we expected? The actress debuted 'Lilohan' during an interview promoting her new nightclub in Greece. The 30-year-old has been living abroad for the past few years, traveling between England, Greece, and most recently, Turkey, and her resulting accent sounds like a hodgepodge of languages. It was weird, it was random, and it was awesome. There's also Lilohan swag now. Last-minute Christmas presents, anyone?”
— Morgan Baila, trend entertainment writer
6 of 31
Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Bad Chad
Everyone loves a good villain, and Chad “Bad Chad” Johnson’s reign of terror over Bachelor Nation was the gift that kept on giving. He alienated every fellow contestant on The Bachelorette. He brought his trolling into the realm of IRL dating apps. He spent his birthday sending mean tweets. He ate more meat than we ever thought possible. Nobody does Bad like Chad.
7 of 31
Tina Knowles
“I’m thankful for the moment Tina Knowles showed the world that she is a goddess, and has always known so, with this photo.”
— Marquita Harris, content editor
8 of 31
The Crown
“It's a little embarrassing that I've been living in London for eight years and it took The Crown to clue me into all this royal intrigue and Parliamentary hijinks. Thanks for elevating my cocktail-party conversation game, Netflix.”
— Erin Donnelly, London contributor
9 of 31
Photo: Andrew H. Walker/WWD/REX.
Leslie Jones
“She had a tough year, but she shut down her hackers and Twitter trolls with class and humor and came out on top.”
— Maia Efrem, associate entertainment editor
10 of 31
Miley Cyrus & Liam Hemsworth’s Undying Love
“For so long, the message was that Liam Hemsworth dumped Miley because she got 'too weird,' which greatly disappointed me because, in the words of Ms. Cyrus, she was just being Miley. Clearly, Hemsworth and Cyrus broke up for other reasons, because they are back together and Miley hasn't stopped being her wonderful, strange self — take that, haters.”
— Kaitlin Reilly, trending entertainment writer
11 of 31
Joe Biden Memes
“We've long known that Joe Biden is the MVP of the White House. He's our nation's id, the person in power who is unafraid to be shady. As we all grapple with life post-Obama, these Joe Biden booby trap memes are the perfect jokes to assuage our fears.”
— Hunter Harris, editorial assistant, entertainment
12 of 31
Kim Kardashian’s Snapchat
“I am grateful to Kim Kardashian and her Snapchat for giving us the social media scandal of the year, when she decided to begin giving zero fucks and then released the audio from Taylor's call with Kanye where Swift approved his 'Famous' lyrics. Incredible.”
— Arianna Davis, entertainment features writer
13 of 31
Photo: MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock.
Samantha Bee
“Without her, this election cycle would have been doubly painful.”
— Maia Efrem, associate entertainment editor
14 of 31
Luna Legend
Find us a photo of Luna Legend that has not made your heart grow three sizes. Not possible.
15 of 31
Stranger Things
“I have a serious soft spot for anything '80s, and Stranger Things let me relive it all. I adore Millie Bobby Brown, Barb, and the return of Winona, but I'm mostly thankful for this quote from Dustin: ‘Why are you closing the curiosity door?’”
— Erin Donnelly, London contributor
16 of 31
Michelle Obama
“FLOTUS, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways... Okay, maybe not, given that there are millions at this point. But thank you for being such a shining beacon in the midst of the muck, for going high and reminding us to keep our chins up, and for inspiring women the world over with your grace, passion, and big, beautiful brain. Can you just stick around and be the Obamas-in-chief forever?”
— Elizabeth Kiefer, entertainment features writer
17 of 31
Photo: REX/Shutterstock.
Justin Bieber’s Face Tat
“Remember when Justin Bieber got a face tattoo? My boyfriend — I mean Bieber — entered a famed New York City tattoo shop and reemerged with a little cross-shaped tear-drop tattoo. The ink itself is so tiny one can barely see it in pictures. (I haven't had the pleasure of encountering said tattoo in person yet, but I'll be sure to let you know when I do.) This was a special moment for me, because it made me think about my other artist obsession, Gucci Mane. I can only hope that was a factor in Biebs' decision, too. The artist, JonBoy, said the tat ‘represents Bieber’s journey in finding purpose with God.’ Same.”
— Morgan Baila, trend entertainment writer
18 of 31
Photo: Courtesy of E!
Blac Chyna “YES OR NO” Meme
“Blac Chyna is the hardest-working woman of 2016. She's done it all: birthed a Kardashian, been the subject of a docuseries, and dragged Wendy Williams. And in the promo for Rob & Chyna, she spoke these words of pure, meme-able poetry: ARE YOU STILL TEXTING BITCHES, YES OR NO!”
— Hunter Harris, editorial assistant, entertainment
19 of 31
“I'm thankful for the humor on Issa Rae's Insecure, because as a brown girl, I have never seen a show that I can so closely and so hilariously relate to. (FYI, I'm writing a thank-you letter to her at the end of the season.)”
— Arianna Davis, entertainment features writer
20 of 31
“It's so exciting that we'll have a new kick-ass princess. Also, props to Disney in general for (slowly, but surely) bringing feminism into their movies.”
— Maia Efrem, associate entertainment editor
21 of 31
Photo: Courtesy of Columbia.
Solange’s A Seat at the Table
“I’m so incredibly thankful for Solange's perfect album, A Seat at the Table. Every year comes with a particular set of challenges, but between the election and rising racial tension across the U.S., this album is now a mainstay in my self-care arsenal.”
— Marquita Harris, content editor
22 of 31
Photo: Courtesy of Poetry International.
Odes By Sharon Olds
“When nothing else makes sense in the world, I always pick up poetry, and it doesn't get better than Pulitzer Prize winner Sharon Olds. Her latest, Odes, is a collection of odes — to people, to places, to moments in time, and so much more — that begins with a beautiful love letter to the clitoris. I'm not kidding: It's moving. And anyone who can make that happen belongs on your bookshelf.”
— Elizabeth Kiefer, entertainment features writer
23 of 31
Barry Jenkins and Tarell McCraney’s acclaimed film arrived like a balm during a fraught fall. Achingly beautiful, raw, and vividly honest, this portrait of queer masculinity in inner-city Miami is proof that movies can uncover hidden truths.
24 of 31
Search Party
"You know how every paperback thriller at the airport has a blurb promising that ‘if you loved Gone Girl, you'll love this’? It's mostly BS, but Search Party's hipster take on the missing-blonde-girl trope does provide some unpredictable twists while mocking millennial culture.” — Erin Donnelly, London contributor
25 of 31
Chris Pratt’s Bronzer & Blush Routine
“TV Star Chris Pratt was everyone's funny darling boy. Then he went and got super famous after Guardians of the Galaxy. Now, Movie Star Chris Pratt wears the perfect blend of bronzer and blush. It’s been an inspiration for my own daily routine.”
— Maia Efrem, associate entertainment editor
26 of 31
Janet Jackson
The "Nasty Woman" movement, which led to Jackson’s reemergence as the face of defiant, nasty women everywhere, was like a beacon of light during a dark, dark time.
27 of 31
Everything About Westworld
“If Game of Thrones and The Matrix had a baby, it would be this show. Sexy, damaged cowboys, twisted villains, badass women, and alternate realities? Sign me up.”
— Anne Cohen, entertainment editor
28 of 31
Transparent Season 3
“This may have been my favorite season of the series yet. Shelly, a character I saw mostly as the show's comedic relief, revealed herself in completely new, tragic ways. Flashbacks to a young Shelly and Maura made everything come together in terms of understanding the Pfeffermans this season. Maura's childhood broke my heart. And yet, through it all, the series makes me laugh like no other.”
— Kaitlin Reilly, trending entertainment writer
29 of 31
Good Girls Revolt
“If you come to the end of the first episode of this series and want to quit — don't. It's a slow burn, but these strong, fierce ladies will grow on you, and their struggle is more relevant than ever.”
— Anne Cohen, entertainment editor
30 of 31
Photo: Courtesy of Riverhead Books.
The Mothers By Brit Bennett
“When I cracked the spine of this book, I did basically nothing else for two days. An insightful coming-of-age story about a young Black woman in modern-day Southern California, it's masterfully written and will stay in your head long after the final pages are finished.”
— Elizabeth Kiefer, entertainment features writer
31 of 31
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