In these unprecedented times, streaming has been a principal source of entertainment. Music, television, film, and podcasts have kept us going while we fight the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine perpetually, not knowing when (or if) life as we know it will go back to normal.
Netflix, especially, came through in the clutch, dropping viral shows, movies, and must-see comedy specials that had the timeline going off with opinions, jokes, and memes. The streaming giant’s reign was nonstop, as it made a concerted effort to lift Black creatives, tell the coveted tales of several late legends, and provide some much-needed laughter.
Other networks and streaming platforms gave TV lovers gold too. HBO blessed us with the masterpiece that is Lovecraft Country, Insecure‘s fourth season, and The Fresh Prince Reunion Special; STARZ dominated with its Power finale and the premiere of Power Book II: Ghost; and, Hulu blew our minds with Little Fires Everywhere.
As 2020 comes to an end, we’ve gathered the most viral small screen moments this year — the good, bad, disheartening, ridiculous, and ugly. See our list below and let us know which of these viral TV moments was most memorable for you.
1. Money Heist
This Spanish heist crime drama, created by Alex Pina, didn’t get a ton of traction at first. Then Netflix acquired the global rights, filmed two more parts, and La Casa de Papel, a.k.a Money Heist, became the most-watched non-English language show in the world.
When Starz Network announced a new series that would follow the lives of strippers in the Mississippi Delta, we knew we were in for a treat.
Starring Brandee Evans, Nicco Annan, Elarica Johnson, and more, the show’s critically acclaimed first-season explored themes of domestic violence, sexual identity, and poverty.
3. The Circle
Netflix really upped its ante when it came to competition shows this year. Innovative and timely, The Circle captured a lot of the drama that is online dating in 2020. The reality series proved you never actually know who you’re talking to online, nor can you fully understand their motives.
4. Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s ‘Celebration of Life’ memorial
Early on in 2020 we lost Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven of their companions in a tragic helicopter accident.
To give fans some closure, the Staples Center hosted a ‘Celebration of Life’ for the deceased, inviting tens of thousands of fans to the L.A. Lakers’ home court to say their goodbyes. Live-streamed, Vanessa Bryant, Michael Jordan, and more gave unforgettable speeches as the world watched on.
5. The Urban One Honors
The 2020 Urban One Honors were a must-watch, if we do say so ourselves. The star-studded event brought out many of entertainment’s biggest icons, as we celebrated the contributions of Black creatives like only we can.
Missy Elliott shed tears, during what was perhaps the most viral moment of the night. Thanking Urban One broadcasting legend Ms. Cathy Hughes for all she’s done to create a home for us, Missy said, “Cathy Hughes. We all are chosen but I believe that there are certain people who are chosen to be a vessel. And Cathy Hughes you are a vessel. You are bold you are fierce. You are strong, innovative. A visionary. Everything about you inspires me to keep doing what I do.”
6. The Power finale
Omari Hardwick’s portrayal of James St. Patrick, a.k.a Ghost, was truly something special.
This year, Power came to an end as writers killed the lead actor off, waiting until the very last episode to reveal Ghost’s shooter was his own son — and one of the show’s most-hated characters — Tariq. At the time, it was all anyone could talk about, as fans discussed the ending’s plausibility.
7. Power Book II: Ghost
That said, the highly-anticipated Power spinoff, Power Book II, sees Tariq in similar standing as his deceased father. The up-and-comer does his best to outsmart prosecutors (who’ve accused his mom of murdering Ghost), while building his own drug business and unknowingly making countless enemies in the process.
So far, Tariq has managed to stay afloat but how much longer can he outmaneuver everyone? Also worth noting: Mary J. Blige and Method Man have joined the cast.
8. The dragging of David Schwimmer
David Schwimmer thought he had a groundbreaking and unifying idea when he suggested an all-Black remake of Friends. Black Twitter PROMPTLY reminded him Friends was actually a rip-off of Living Single.
If you missed that hilarious drama, tune in here.
9. Zendaya’s historic Emmy win
Zendaya amazed with her portrayal of Rue Bennett in Euphoria, so much so, she won her first Emmy this year. Not only did she win, she made history as the youngest person to ever take home the award for ‘Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama.’ Salute the queen!
10. The Queen’s Gambit
At first glance, we probably all had reservations about this chess series being any good, but numbers don’t lie and according to Netflix, it’s the company’s most popular limited scripted series ever.
A must-watch, The Queen’s Gambit is based on Walter Tevis’ 1983 novel, which tells the story of fictional chess prodigy Beth Harmon (portrayed in the series by Annabeth Kelly, Isla Johnston, and Anya Taylor-Joy).
Just when we were in dire need of a reason to smile, HBO dropped the fourth season of Insecure. Molly and Issa’s friendship was so strained it divided viewers, Lawrence’s new bae Condola became collateral damage as Lawrence and Issa rekindled their flame, and Issa was getting her freak on — a lot. Molly was also forced to face her own relationship toxicity, as her good thing with her hunky boyfriend Andrew slowly came to an end.
Season 4 was was nominated for eight Emmys and even took one home.
12. The Last Dance
Sports lovers all over the nation were devastated when the NBA season was delayed due to the pandemic. In the nick of time, ESPN released The Last Dance, which follows Michael Jordan during his final season with the Chicago Bulls.
If you watched, you know the tea was never-ending. The truth about MJ’s “Flu Game” was revealed, Dennis Rodman’s whereabouts during an impromptu mid-season vacation were thoroughly explored, and oh so much more. It was the behind-the-scenes look basketbally fans could only dream of.
13. Little Fires Everywhere
Starring Kerry Washington as Mia Warren and Reese Witherspoon as Elena Richardson, Little Fires Everywhere is a rollercoaster of a story that pits the two matriarchs against each other as their web of lies and insecurities unravel for their closest loved ones to see.
Kerry Washington has given us so many unforgettable characters over the years and we’re proud to add Mia Warren to that list. We’d also like to spotlight Tiffany Boone, whose portrayal of a young Mia Warren/Kerry Washington went viral.
14. Lovecraft Country
Lovecraft Country was simply a wonder to watch. Set in Jim Crow America, the series merged sci-fi and horror, while exploring the racist history of our country. The cast (Jurnee Smollett, Michael K. Williams, Jonathan Majors, Aunjanue Ellis, Wunmi Mosaku, and more) was utterly incredible, as a whole — and we can’t think of one show more deserving of national recognition.
15. Netflix acquires classic Black throwbacks
As mentioned, Netflix made a concerted effort to uplift Black creatives this year. As the pandemic droned on, the streaming service announced it’d acquired the rights to several classic Black sitcoms, including Girlfriends, Half & Half, Moesha, One on One, and more.
“The goal of Strong Black Lead is to celebrate and lift up Black Hollywood. These trailblazing shows are a huge part of that story,” Content Acquisition Manager Bradley Edwards and Strong Black Lead Manager Jasmyn Lawson said in a statement. It was an unforgettable moment in 2020 television history.
As in real life, it was easy to fall in love with the glitz, glamour, and drama driving Netflix’s miniseries, Hollywood. The cast was gorgeous and the storyline, which follows aspiring actors and filmmakers as they try to make it in toxic and racist Hollywood, was nothing short of engrossing.
17. Big Mouth
Big Mouth has been making headlines all month long, as season four explores racial and sexual identity. Quinta Brunson and Lena Waithe join the animated cast, as season four unpacks relatable topics like code-switching, menstruation, the N-word, and more.
18. The CW’s new Batwoman
Javicia Leslie was announced as the first-ever Black Batwoman. Taking on the role following Ruby Rose’s departure, Leslie will enter The CW series as new character Ryan Wilder, complete with a new Batsuit specifically designed for her.
“For all of the little Black girls dreaming to be a superhero one day… it’s possible!,” Leslie said on Instagram as Black creatives everywhere celebrated.
19. Selena: The Series
After Jennifer Lopez did such an amazing job playing Selena Quintanilla in the 1997 classic, fans were not enthused about Netflix turning the late legend’s life into a series. While Selena lovers tuned in, the show got mixed reviews as critics complained about the lead’s Eurocentric look, the show’s bad wigs, and more.
20. Maya Rudolph as Kamala Harris for SNL
When Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the 2020 Presidential Election and gave their victory speeches it was a triumph for the entire country, despite what Trump’s supporters might think.
Then, Saturday Night Live won by recreating Harris’ victory look in just a matter of hours, setting our timelines off with shock and laughter.
21. Love Is Blind
Everyone who has a Netflix account was talking about Love Is Blind. Hosted by Nick and Vanessa Lachey, 15 men and 15 women sit in pods and go on dates without ever seeing one another in the reality series. In the end, if two people feel they made a real connection, they have the option of getting engaged and spending more time together.
Ultimately, we watched as Netflix sent just five engaged couples to Mexico, prior to their (expedited) wedding days — and that’s where the real drama and laughs went down. If you haven’t tuned in, and you need a laugh, you’ll want to head over to Netflix now.
22. The Crown introduces the late Princess Diana
Up-and-coming actress Emma Corrin held nothing back in her portrayal of Princess Diana. As Netflix introduced Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles in season 4 of the series, writers explored their relationship extensively — adultery, depression, and Diana’s eating disorder, included. “I was in awe of her,” Josh O’Connor, who plays Prince Charles, said of Corrin.
23. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion
Over the years, Janet Hubert (a.k.a the original Aunt Viv) made her feelings about Will Smith quite clear. So, it was special to see them address their beef and put the past behind them in a reunion special for HBO. There was also a James Avery tribute that left viewers in tears.
24. Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
We were already shocked when Aaron Hernandez was accused and found guilty of first-degree murder. But then, Netflix went into detail about how it all allegedly went down — the abuse he suffered as a kid, his advanced CTE, alleged bisexuality, and his reported suicide.
There really wasn’t a moment in the docuseries that didn’t leave viewers shocked, but in the end we all had a better picture as to how Hernandez turned killer.
25. Tiger King
We can’t forget about Tiger King and the fact that it’s still making headlines nine months after it premiered on Netflix. From the ridiculous behavior of Joe Exotic to Shaq’s cameo and Joe’s beef with Carole Baskin (who may or may not have killed her husband), this true crime docuseries was a puzzling, baffling, stomach-turning must-watch.
26. The Undoing
Lastly, we’d like to highlight HBO’s The Undoing. Starring Nicole Kidman as Grace Fraser and Hugh Grant as her husband, the psychological thriller miniseries is based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s 2014 novel You Should Have Known. Not surprisingly, the series has had viewers obsessed and overwhelmed as “a violent death, a missing spouse, and a chain of terrible revelations” upend Grace Fraser’s life.