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The 2010s were full of pop culture moments that shook the world. From Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke performing “Blurred Lines” at the VMAs, to the loss of icons like David Bowie, plenty of moments—both minor and major—left us shook with tears, laughter, and awe throughout the decade.

Here are my Top 10 Pop Culture Moments of the Decade.

1. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry get married.

Despite all the drama that has followed for the royal couple, watching Meghan Markle and Prince Harry get married felt like seeing a real-life fairytale play out. With a choir singing “Stand by Me” and Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon on the importance of love, the wedding added some liveliness to a historically stoic tradition. Throw in some of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s adorable eye contact, and it’s a total swoon fest.

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2 & 3. Cory Monteith dies, Glee ends.

If I had to name television shows that had a measurable impact on my life, Glee would be at the top of the list (I mean, I did join a British Glee Club because of it).

Like all shows, Glee had its share of highs and lows, but never lost its heart, even when dealing with the loss of one its own. Cory Monteith’s sudden death in 2013 was heartbreaking, not only because it was the loss of a beloved actor and character, but also because he lost his life to an unintentional overdose—a cause of death that would grow throughout the decade. Glee was never quite the same. Monteith’s death was the end of the innocence.

Two years later, New Directions’ members past and present gathered in the auditorium for one last performance to One Republic’s “I Lived”—a fitting song for what the show had accomplished. In its final shot, the show paid tribute to where it began, zooming in on a plaque of the original Glee Club director and Monteith’s character, Finn. I still can’t get through it without tearing up.

4. “It’s not about the pasta!”

It was the shout heard ‘round West Hollywood on Vanderpump Rules. The scene started simply enough: James Kennedy and Lala Kent were sharing a meal when the conversation turned to James’s girlfriend Raquel ordering pasta only to have Lala and another friend eat it. Obviously, James was mad and the conversation devolved into a fight, with James screaming the now-iconic line, “it’s not about the pasta!”

What was it about? The friendship between James and Lala possibly, but no one is quite sure, making it one of the greatest Bravo mysteries of the decade.

5. “Love is love is love.”

Less than 24 hours after nearly 50 people died in the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting on June 12, 2016, Lin-Manuel Miranda took the Tony Awards stage to accept the award for Best Score for Hamilton. In a sonnet which began as a “thank you” to his wife Vanessa, Miranda finished with a heartfelt crescendo, paying tribute to the lives lost in the shooting, saying that even in times of tragedy it is love that survives longer than fear or hate.

This show is proof that history remembers

We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;

We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.”


6. Alan Rickman dies.

When Alan Rickman passed away in 2016, I can remember watching the news coverage and crying. Rickman was an all-around great actor, but I—and so many others my age—knew him primarily as Harry Potter’s foil, the tragically misunderstood Severus Snape. Although I was years past childhood, his death felt like losing part of it that remained.

7. Chanel No. 3’s Earmuffs on Scream Queens.

Who would’ve thought earmuffs could be a fashion statement all year-round? Scream Queens’ Chanel No. 3, that’s who. In addition to outlandish murders, each episode featured Billie Lourd wearing a new set of earmuffs—usually with a pair of chandelier earrings stuck in them. Whenever I look at a pair of ear muffs, it’s Chanel No. 3 I now think of.

8. The Fault in our Stars.

In need of a good cry? Even if you’re not, let me recommend John Green’s 2012 best-seller The Fault in our Stars.

The book chronicles of the love story of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group. With such a setup, readers anticipate heartbreak to come. But with Green’s injection of humor, wit, and all-around great storytelling, it reaches a whole new level of devastating. It was so powerful, it made me want to be a writer.

In the novel’s final pages, Augustus says, “We don’t get to choose if we get hurt in this world, but we do have some say in who hurts us. I like my choices.”

When it comes to this book—and its movie adaptation—I do, too.

9. Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds die.

If we’re talking about families that left an impact on pop culture, it’s  impossible not to mention the mother-daughter duo of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher. Both women hold a special place in feminist pop culture canon, as icons who have inspired multiple generations. Reynolds became known for her role in the 1950s classic Singing in the Rain­, and, for Disney Channel viewers like myself, her performance as Grandma Aggie in Halloweentown. 

Along with being a best-selling author and advocate for mental health, Fisher brought Star Wars’ Princess Leia to life with a fierce, feisty flair.

So, when Fisher died after on Dec. 27, 2016 and within a day, Reynolds, too, passed away, the world entered a state of mourning for the loss of two greats. Hollywood—and galaxies far, far away—have never been quite the same since.

10. The evolution of Cole Sprouse.

In the 1990s, we met Cole Sprouse as the adorable orphan, “Frankenstein,” in Adam Sandler’s hit comedy, Big Daddy. In the 2000s, TV viewers knew Cole Sprouse as Ross’s most-absent son, Ben, in Friends, and the cautious Brainiac twin Cody in Disney Channel’s The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. In 2017, however, the fair-haired child star traded his Tipton hotel keys for a laptop and beanie to play Riverdale’s Jughead Jones. In a town full of endless drama and murder, the sarcastic writer/true crime aficionado/voice of reason is a bright spot. No matter the crazy plot twists, as long as he’s on the show, I’ll keep coming back.

Sarah Razner

Sarah Razner is a reporter of real-life Wisconsin by day, and a writer of fictional lives throughout the world by night.

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