2020 in a nutshell? There's a reason "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" hit the charts again near the start of the year: so much happened that for the first time in the (short) history of this list, more than 50 articles got over 10 million unique views! But the top 50 most-viewed Wikipedia articles give an insight into what was going on in the world, as if there won't be countless history books devoted to each season. Unsurprisingly, the list is largely dominated by the pandemic, you know, that thing, and the election. The U.S. one. Two events that really hold the fate of the world in the balance, with over 200 million combined views for the major players: the pandemic, the outgoing president, deaths in 2020, and the incoming Pres and VP take the top 5 spots. Among the many other COVID-19 related articles on the list are those specific to the United States and India, where large numbers of Wikipedia readers are. And in a year when celebrity deaths have all but been knocked off the list thanks to pandemic and election, it's a few faces from these countries – and Scotland – that appear. Legendary Bond Sean Connery finds a place, as does the three-named Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput and some American icons better known by shortened names: Kobe, Chadwick, and RBG. The first two Yanks were young Black icons, and didn't die of coronavirus, nor from racial violence, something that exploded in the second quarter and led to other entries about police killing innocents. Not-so-innocent on the list are convicted criminals like Jeffrey Epstein, posthumously embroiled in one of several conspiracy theories, and Joe Exotic, star of a Netflix docuseries. It's the popularity of outgoing President Trump dragging up those other conspiracies, though, while streaming film and TV is also responsible for other entries like the Royal Family and Alexander Hamilton (an unlikely pairing!) getting a lot of views. Entertainment appears on the list in other ways. Remember going to the movies? Large events with lots of people? Well, this list will surely remind you as there's Parasite, the Oscar Best Picture winner from February, and Grammy-winner Billie Eilish taking spots. In sport, we also have LeBron becoming winning-est, though behind closed doors, and CR7 still scoring his goals. And finally, in a tiny glimmer of hope for this list becoming mainstream, YouTube gets a place for cancelling its Rewind. Maybe they thought summarizing this year would be too challenging, but no, not us.
|1||COVID-19 pandemic||83,764,908||Easily the defining event of the chaotic year that is 2020, Anno Domini. With the index case recorded on New Years' Eve 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has infected possibly up to ten percent of the world population when factoring undiagnosed cases, killed more than a million, forced restrictions on movement across the entire globe, and caused the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The pandemic has forced countless events to make compromises on audience size and format, if not to be cancelled altogether; everything from the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards to many, many funerals, weddings and the like. Near the start of the year, I remember planning a commentary just for this article, for this year's Top 50; I included a placeholder phrase, that reads "The pandemic finally turned to humanity's favour by...". Many months later, the pandemic has not turned to humanity's favour at all, with a daily new diagnosed case count of six hundred thousand cases per day (that's more than the population of some minor cities) that's very likely to keep on rising unrestrained.||Mar. 12 |
(one day after WHO declares it a pandemic)
|2||Donald Trump||57,061,632||Well, he got what he wanted. After years of declining Wikipedia views, from a high of 75 million in 2016 to a low of 15 million last year, the man whose sole goal in life is to be mollycoddled and adored by everyone he encounters shot back to the top, only beaten by a virus whose manifest dangers he has steadfastly downplayed. Assuming the laws of the United States are upheld, he is now nearing the end of his Presidency and so one might consider it a fair time to assess his performance over the last four years. Nonetheless, to paraphrase True Grit, let us restrict our events to 2020 so we may have a manageable figure. Prior to the 2020 election, there were ten spikes in the President’s view count. The first when he ordered the assassination of Iran's security and intelligence chief; the second when he was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress; the third was when he visited India; the fourth when he claimed, against all evidence, that the death rate from coronavirus in the United States was “a fraction of one percent”; the fifth was when he used stun grenades and tear gas against peaceful protestors for a photo op; the sixth was the publication of his niece Mary Trump’s tell-all book; the seventh was when he signed an order banning TikTok in the United States; the eighth was during the 2020 Republican National Convention; the ninth marked his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court and his first presidential debate against Joe Biden; the tenth his second debate. But of course, it was the election that drove views to his page more than anything else, and in particular his refusal to concede, which has ensured his time in the limelight is as long as possible.||Nov. 10|
(starts lawsuits alleging election fraud)
|3||Deaths in 2020||43,569,558||The baby boomer generation, the generation that coupled with increasing medical capabilities to kick-start the population boom, is finally reaching an age near the average life expectancy, and the rise in celebrity culture (ensuring there were more people to hear about and thus notice the deaths of) combined with that to ramp up the recent perceived and actual death rate worldwide. For whatever reason, this ramping up seemed to come flying out of the gate in 2016 with David Bowie and hasn't cooled off since. This year in particular though, even compared to the few years previous, was aided by the pandemic you've surely heard about by now to take quite a heavy toll on the numbers of the living – Ruth Bader Ginsburg (#38 on this list), Alex Trebek, Ellis Marsalis Jr., and Kobe Bryant (#7 on the list) were just a few of the famous that chose this year to shuffle off the mortal coil.||Apr. 2|
|4||Kamala Harris||39,467,219||Like everyone, the Vice President-Elect and President-Elect – to everyone except the outgoing, at least – have been through hardships this year. Sure, they got to travel more than most, but they had to do that to be in close proximity to people who've touched the White House recently. Biden and Harris first entered the news as likely-to-bes in the Democratic primaries, which Biden won; of all the runners-up, he picked Harris as his running-mate in August. The pair have been in and out of the news as they ventured along the campaign trail, with their families also picked up for consideration as their opposition variously questioned Harris's country of birth based on nothing but the color of her skin – Harris is proudly the child of immigrants – and called into question Biden's position on national security because of son Hunter's emails that Trump lawyers apparently unearthed but ironically wouldn't let anyone see. Not that these fabricated scandals seem to change the final vote that, shortly after the pair released their tax returns, took several days to make official but saw them elected with the highest vote count of any presidential ticket, ever. Their victory speeches, and Harris's outfit for hers, the first given by a VP-Elect, have also been in the news, applauded worldwide for actually appearing presidential.||Nov. 8 (won presidential election)|
|6||Coronavirus||33,689,841||Undoubtedly nothing was more important in 2020 than avoiding one of these microscopic things that causes respiratory diseases, more specifically the one called SARS-CoV-2. A successor to the virus that caused the SARS outbreak nearly 20 years ago, it mutated from bats and possibly pangolins (no, it wasn't man-made in Kazakhstan out of gypsy tears!) and after first showing up in a wet market in Wuhan wound up spreading worldwide. After derailing our year, it's certain we can't wait to hear to word "corona" and only think of Mexican beer and Italian music.||Jan. 27 (first COVID case in Canada)|
|7||Kobe Bryant||33,298,596||The first terrible event of 2020 A.D. that had a profound effect on me. On the day that legendary American basketball player Kobe Bryant's death was announced and circulating in the media, I remember waking up and reading the news as I usually do and seeing the headlines, which were all about him. I was a bit shocked. What a great player. Nowadays, remembering all those memories where people in my locality hung out and took three-pointer shots and said 'Kobe' just for good luck, I can't help but feel a bit weird.||Jan. 26 (died)|
|8||COVID-19 pandemic by country and territory||29,637,765||One advantage of a totalitarian state is that when a strict lockdown order is put into place for public safety, there's not too many peeps from the public about violations of freedom. There are, however, other ways of achieving this benefit – say, for example, widespread knowledge of basic epidemiology and/or well-funded public health campaigns. However achieved, the ability of a country to reach this standard seemed to have a rather large impact on how well their citizens fared this year against the COVID-19 pandemic. China for instance, who logically would be the worst hit given the large population and that it was the location of the epicenter, managed to stave off the worst of the care rationing, even if that meant flooding patients into hastily built hospitals. Italy, on the other hand, didn't fare even that well.||Apr. 3 (continues to escalate)|
|9||Elizabeth II||26,481,926||I have always wondered what it is like to be Elizabeth II. To be born into the highest privilege, but to be handed a job for life you didn't ask for, can't change and have only limited control over who succeeds you. The entire monarchy have been thrown to the wind by the era of the self-made individual, as the decision early this year by her grandson Prince Harry, in part due to the media scrutiny on his wife, Meghan Markle, to step down from royalty and actually become a contributing member of society is the starkest reminder of this yet. Her reaction to this "crisis" led to a view spike in the month of January, as did a fleeting suggestion in April that she might have COVID. She did not, and continued stoically with her duties, providing more view spikes with her speeches concerning the COVID crisis, on her birthday(s) (she has two, poor thing) and on VE Day, as well as marking 25,000 days on this singularly bizarre job. But let's not kid ourselves. The real reason she's on this list is the same reason the rest of her family is: The Crown, Netflix's fawning, forelock-tugging hagiography of her interminable time in office. It's somewhat telling, I think, that we prefer a fictional version of her to the real thing.||Nov. 20 (shortly after The Crown (season 4))|
|10||2020 United States presidential election||25,765,871||Biden won, so note that down. This. This was a wild ride. So what you need to know really started back in 2016 when Trump won and took some swing states with him. But maybe we'll skip to 2018 when Arizona elected a Democratic senator for the first time in forever, shortly after John McCain died. What does this have to do with anything, you ask? These two events lay the groundwork for a growing body of Latino and Native voters actually not being disenfranchised and voting, and for Trump dissing McCain enough to turn Arizona Republicans off of him. Arizona, a traditionally Republican state, wasn't even listed as a major swing state going into the 2020 vote count, but as a Democrat-lean state. It took them forever to count but they finally decided that they did vote for Biden. This is the same kind of voter narrative – anti-Trump Republicans and demographic enfranchising – that played out across a lot of more Republican areas that won the election for Biden. It just can't be pinned down to two moments in other states like it can with the Sinema/McCain duology. Cut to the middle of 2020. Obviously, Trump (or someone in his campaign) saw a lot of this progress and tried their best to stop it from happening (late in the day), be it begging white women to vote for him or blocking mail-in ballots and encouraging racial violence on election day. He still refuses to admit he lost, and keeps demanding recounts. By my count, we've watched him lose nearly 50 times. Despite that embarrassment, he wants his legal challenges against nearly every state that voted for Biden to be taken seriously. That's hard to do when the man announcing the lawsuits is making his big speech by some flyers out the back of a garage of a landscaping company next to a porn shop in an industrial unit in suburban Philly. That all happened, I promise you.
Oh, and a soft reminder that like 47% of voters still picked Trump even after the poor pandemic handling and nearly causing WW3 on January 2nd, so that might be something to look at.
|Nov. 4 (day after voting)|
|11||Spanish flu||23,018,236||While there were other pandemics since this one from almost exactly 100 years ago, they all could be (and were) ignored by the most vocal and privileged sector of the world. Ebola was "that African disease", AIDS was just "the gay sickness", and cholera was "a third-world issue". Not quite so easy to pooh-pooh when world leaders – then Woodrow Wilson and King Alfonso XIII, now Boris Johnson and Donald Trump – publicly fall ill, masks promoted in public safety to everyone, and it can't immediately be stabbed away with a vaccine.
There are other similarities between the pandemic of current and this one of past – each embedded into the public's mind alongside a nationality, both shuttered schools – but with 100 extra years of science, hopefully we can all avoid the numerous waves of 1920 that vaguely resembled an especially roused basketball stadium.
|Mar. 22 (COVID escalates)|
|12||Elon Musk||22,517,107||We finally got to see this magnate’s full metamorphosis from goofy, internet-beloved, mumble rapping, occasionally reefer-smoking, pronoun-hating, relatable-if-you're-a-gamer-in-the-one-percent wealth hoarder anime cat girl to full-on supervillain or superhero, depending on where you stand. Musk's biggest appearance in the headlines might have been because of his and his garden fairy wife giving birth to the world's first human computer virus (and/or living meme), X Æ A-12, but based on his appearance on this list, that clearly wasn’t all he was doing.
At the top of the year, we were treated to Musk dancing in Shanghai for our viewing pleasure, but mostly for our viewing pain, in a style that could only reasonably be described as "creepy but sometimes funny uncle at a barbecue". The quality of his dancing was akin to that of the rest of the year, though maybe not for Elon: he became the second-richest man on the planet, SpaceX became the first privately-owned company to send astronauts into orbit and to the International Space Station and launched the first manned spacecraft on American soil in nearly a decade with the test flight Crew Dragon Demo-2, Tesla became the most valuable car company ever, Neuralink unveiled a nifty, totally-not-dystopian brain chip, likened by Musk to a "Fitbit in your skull", meant to enhance the abilities of humans to rival that of the rapidly-growing capabilities of artificial intelligence (just look at Microsoft's Tay!), and Musk himself gave birth. Well, he didn't give birth, but you get what I mean.
His run was not without some very public blunders, though. He endorsed his friend Kanye West's publicity stunt—I mean presidency and was confronted by scientists and ministers, but perhaps his most egregious mistake was being so cavalier about COVID-19. Musk spent a good portion of the year mimicking Trump's response to the pandemic by simply pretending that it was barely happening at all, defying orders to close his Tesla factory which he called "fascist" and, when the pandemic was right around the corner, tweeting out that the panic surrounding it was "dumb". His refusal to acknowledge the virus for what it really was became his public downfall, earning him the nickname "Space Karen". Maybe Azealia Banks had a point.
|May 6 (announces birth of son)|
|13||2016 United States presidential election||21,860,377||Or as John Oliver would say it, Lice on rats on a horse corpse on fire 2016!!!!!!!!!! With a result that shocked the world in putting #2 in the White House, it's no wonder people revisited the article again in preparation for and during the endless vote counting of this year's edition (#10).||Nov. 4 (day after 2020 election)|
|14||Coronavirus disease 2019||21,672,589||The main reason why by March, every sneeze or cough inspired panic, and in the following months whoever was in the street was subject to face masks and hand sanitizer. COVID-19, like other coronavirus-caused (#6) illnesses, manifests through the respiratory tract – fever, cough, fatigue, and breathing difficulties, which can evolve into lung damage (nothing related to intestines, making the toilet paper shortages more questionable...). It is not particularly lethal (more than half the infected managed to recover), but still very contagious (over 70 million cases, with the WHO estimating the numbers were actually 10 times higher!). And proving it shouldn't be underestimated, the countries where the disease spread the most were those whose presidents dismissed COVID as "a little flu".||Mar. 12 (one day after WHO declares it a pandemic)|
|15||Michael Jordan||21,278,718||Like many basketballers who grew up in the 80s and 90s, #7 idolized Michael Jordan, and could be considered a successor in a way – Jordan eulogized Kobe saying he felt like a younger brother to him, and even joked that mourning him on TV gave birth to another Crying Jordan. But "His Airness" earns most of his views to his own unrivaled legend: in the sad stretch where the NBA was stopped due to the pandemic instead of having its playoffs, ESPN and Netflix released The Last Dance, a docuseries that used the sixth and final title of Jordan in 1998 to showcase the big names of those Chicago Bulls, above all the #23 who in those old images proved why he still is the greatest basketball player ever.||Apr. 20 (The Last Dance premieres)|
|16||COVID-19 pandemic in the United States||19,707,145||It's important to stress that COVID-19 isn't an unstoppable force. China has basically contained their outbreak, while Vietnam and New Zealand stopped theirs from getting bad in the first place. Strong governmental action is necessary, whether it involves mass testing, financial relief, or an absolute lockdown. Federal, state, and local governments have either avoided these measures or botched them, killing hundreds of thousands in the process. Bizarrely, as the pandemic got worse, the restrictions got lighter; schools closed nationwide before we hit 10,000 cases, but opened back up when 1,000 were dying per day. The good news is, we're probably going to have a vaccine sometime next year – but, knowing the U.S.'s track record on this, I wouldn't hold my breath.||Mar. 27 |
(the lockdowns start to take off)
|17||COVID-19 pandemic in India||18,895,254||By global standards, India has escaped the COVID crisis fairly lightly. It doesn't seem that way; India ranks second in the world in the number of confirmed cases and third in the number of deaths. But compared to its vast population (1.35 billion at last count) the numbers are fairly low. There is always the danger of under-reporting, of course, especially given India's relatively poor infrastructure, but even if they were ten times higher, India's death count per head of population would be only slightly higher than Spain's. Or even my country, the UK. Thanks to a widely praised program of testing and contact tracing, India now sees about 40,000 new cases per day (twice that of the UK, which has one 20th its population, and a fifth that of the US). So yeah, good on you, India.||Mar. 26 |
(the lockdowns start to take off)
|18||Sushant Singh Rajput||18,840,371||After the young Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput (SSR) killed himself in June, I followed along with all the updates and conspiracies to write up the Top 25 report each week. One of the theories I somehow missed back then was the one that Wikipedia itself planned his death. This all ended up involved in the Bollywood scandal about nepotism, too, resulting in SSR's article having one of the highest single-week pageview totals ever.||June 14 (died)|
|19||QAnon||18,766,515||There are two central beliefs to QAnon: the world is controlled by a cabal of pedophiles (their list is longer than the flight logs,) and Donald Trump is actively fighting them. In the past few years, the theory has migrated from old online shut-ins to young people, by way of Instagram and Facebook; these young people are much more open about their belief, organizing "#SaveTheChildren" marches in over 400 American cities in late summer. Twitter and Facebook started mass-bannings of QAnon accounts in September and October, respectively, which'll either stop the spread or Streisand effect them to greater prominence.||Oct. 16 (Trump doesn't discredit it in debate)|
|20||Chadwick Boseman||17,967,222||To the shock of many, on one (American) evening at the end of August, Boseman's family used his Twitter account to announce that he had passed away. With a year full of deaths, this was one of the six most impactful, if this list is anything to go by. And, like some of those others, a complete blindside. Perhaps more shocking was the explanation in the tweet: Boseman had stage 4 colon cancer that he fought for 4 years without telling anyone. And he did that while playing the beloved action hero T'Challa/Black Panther, in a physically demanding role. He is also known for a variety of biopics, playing important Black figures in history. Young people dying is tragic any time, but Boseman's death came while the world was still mourning another young Black actor and a couple of Freedom Riders, and right in the middle of a year very emotionally demanding as a whole: it was hard not to equate him with the Black icons he portrayed on screen, and many fans felt another blow at the thought of their loss. The fact that fans were just happy his family got to announce the news rather than TMZ is an infuriating reflection of how celebrity deaths have been going in 2020, too. He's been back in the news in the fall following acclaim for his latest roles, and the news that the Marvel Cinematic Universe will work around his death and give a larger part to his character's sister.||Aug. 29 (died)|
|21||Parasite (2019 film)||17,927,701||We finally get to a movie, and a groundbreaker at that: the 92nd Academy Awards had the biggest winner, with four awards including Best Picture, not even being in English. Instead, the nowadays very popular South Korea provided a film by Bong Joon-ho (who also took home Best Director, Original Screenplay and International Feature statuettes) about a poor family who through manipulations tries to leech over a rich one. Well made, acted, and full of surprises, as its script manages to get viewers laughing and horrified, often in succession, Parasite even managed to become the most successful Korean movie ever, including $53 million in North America, showing many viewers decided to follow Bong's words to "overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles".||Feb. 10 (day after Academy Awards)|
|22||United States||17,793,247||Contributing to Main Page, I keep in mind that about half of Wikipedia readers are North American and we have to work for that, ahem, knowledge level and base. It's perhaps surprising that one of our most-viewed articles is about the United States, then – surely all these readers know about their own country? Lower down, you'll see India has made the list, too, where the third-most readers come from. Is this some kind of nationalist vanity inherent to humans, no matter the continent? Or maybe some computer stations default Wikipedia to the country's article? Is it the masses of students who use Wikipedia either against or with their teachers' advice doing a class presentation on their nation's history? Or perhaps a horde of vandals aiming to change the president's name to something juvenile every day? Likely a combination of all to get numbers quite this high. As far as our statistics show, the biggest spike in viewership came right after the U.S. presidential election, which at least marks out one of those reasons: changing the name of the president!||Nov. 4 (day after election)|
|23||Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon||16,605,649||As a lifelong fan of cyberpunk, I've often pondered the boundary between reality and fantasy, and how humans blur them without thinking. The life of Margaret, younger sister to the Queen, was made into a soap opera even in her lifetime. So-called "royal watchers" and the eternally vindictive British press dragged out every detail of her unhappy married life as if it belonged to them, casting her as the fallen angel. As she would never assume the throne, she would never have an impact on the real world, so she was relegated to a false one. And now, in death, she has become even more fictional. Aside from spillover from her sister's spikes, the only attention she has received this year are from a documentary about her life and, of course, The Crown.||Nov. 21 (after The Crown)|
Time was when other websites had a permanent home in Wikipedia's top articles: Facebook, Google, Yahoo. Even Lycos (hello botnets). Then came the rise of tablets, and the ability to instantly connect to any website you wanted without having to search for it. Suddenly those websites disappeared. Ah yes. The old "tried to click on website but clicked on Wiki article instead" gaffe. Just another symptom of Wikipedia's strange relationship with Google's algorithm. If any one website were to remain on the list, you'd think it would be Facebook; virtual home of half the world's population, kingmaker in elections, arguably complicit in genocide. But it's YouTube. And honestly, that makes sense. Many people use Facebook; few people work there. Most people's livelihoods are not directly affected by the decrees of Facebook's masters. YouTube is more than a community or a news service. It is an industry employing millions. Millions whose very survival can depend on the capricious winds of YouTube's famously inept algorithms. In essence, YouTube is a country; a venal, ramshackle third world country run by bumbling dictators. Views spiked first in January, when YouTubers came to grips with the fallout from YouTube's COPPA settlement, and learned that from now on, any YouTuber publishing what their algorithm might consider children's material gets their channel de-listed. Views then surged during the first coronavirus lockdown, where it made news for de-listing anti-vaxxer conspiracy channels. It shouldn't have; in a sane world that would be standard practice unworthy of note, but we don't live in a sane world. Another jump in views came on November 12, when it announced that their annual tradition, YouTube Rewind, a compilation of the year's videos, had been cancelled because "2020 has been different". As if people only used YouTube to escape from reality. For a while, it seemed YouTube might actually escape the year scandal-free. But then, in November, it announced that from now on it will be collecting advertising revenue from its videos, regardless of whether the creators signed up for advertising. And no, un-partnered creators would not get a cut. This technically makes every un-partnered YouTuber on the site a slave laborer. Also, YouTube has proven remarkably bad at policing its paid content, and no one seems to have pondered if advertisers would appreciate their ads indiscirminately plastered all over the site. Adpocalypse 3.0 in 10, 9, 8...
|Nov. 12 (announces Rewind's cancellation)|
|25||United States Electoral College||15,165,810||The United States Electoral College, initially a compromise between a full democracy and a straight Congressional election but long a point of contention among voters, was thrust into the spotlight once again this year as a dramatic flourish on the already tense Presidential election between Donald Trump (#2) and Joe Biden (#5). Five times in American history, in 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016, the Electoral College switched the winner of the election from the popular vote winner. With two occurrences of this in such recent memory, naturally everyone was on the edge of their seats come early November rooting for their preferred candidate (whoever it be) to eke out a victory in not only sheer numbers but the right distribution to tick those 270 boxes. Of course, it didn't all go smoothly this year, because what's a mildly dysfunctional government without a few snafus to spice things up? This year's features included a few states being unusually slow to certify results, arguments about just how closely signatures needed to match for a vote to "qualify" as legit, a crippled postal service complicating plans to avoid COVID-19 exposures by expanding vote-by-mail systems, accusations of fraud flying in attempts to discredit and cast doubt onto legitimate voting means, and discrepancies in party affiliations between different methods of voting triggering even more accusations of fraud to fly, as well as a late "blue wave" caused by mail-in votes escalating the nail-biting on both sides, with the possibilities of faithless electors swinging the vote, or states sending "alternative electors" specifically chosen to be faithless adding a dramatic cherry on top of the whole pile.||Nov. 4 (day after election)|
|26||Barack Obama||15,108,942||The forty-fourth President of the United States, and the first African-American to fill in that role. Recent media star Joe Biden (#5) was his Vice President.||Nov. 8 (after Biden was elected)|
|27||Alexander Hamilton||15,030,057||Let's just say two things: If you use US dollars, he's the guy who's on the $10 bill and he was also a very important player in the formation of the US financial system.
|July 4 (Hamilton premieres on Disney+)|
|28||Diana, Princess of Wales||14,886,552||You know why she's on here. We all know why she's on here. Prior to the Big Reason (which is somewhat remarkable given that she only debuted in November), the wayward scion's view count largely followed in the wake of her much put-upon mother-in-law. With two exceptions: her birthday and her deathday. It seems Diana is rapidly following the martyr's path from metaphorical icon (and actual person) to literal icon.||Nov. 16 (after The Crown)|
|29||Jeffrey Epstein||14,181,060||Hey, speaking of those flight logs from before...
This year, we added one more to the relatively brief list of last names that are also automatically pejoratives (see: Hitler.) Even after offing himself a year ago (unless...), the notoriously scorned financier couldn’t stay out of people's mouths or their search bars this year. Now that he's moved on to other pastures and is no longer here to wreak havoc on young women across the globe, the public found it easier than ever to find out about the depths of his crimes, and, perhaps more importantly, how much he was enabled. A big blow to a reputation which was already covered in the tears of those he's hurt was the release of Filthy Rich, a Netflix docuseries featuring accounts from a number of his victims that put both Epstein accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell, who was arrested this year on charges that she knowingly lured victims to Epstein, and his victim Virginia Roberts Guiffre in the spotlight.
|May 31 (shortly after Filthy Rich)|
|30||Tenet (film)||13,948,713||The goddamned pandemic made this an awful year for movie fans, to the point views were low for the film industry's usual entries on the annual report – 2020 in film, List of Bollywood films, and superhero movies (the Marvel Cinematic Universe got postponed until next year, Wonder Woman 1984 premiered too late, and both Birds of Prey and The New Mutants didn't garner enough attention). The one 2020 release that managed to break into the list was Tenet, Christopher Nolan's latest movie which managed to one-up Inception in being an overtly weird and complex movie. Tenet followed people who manage to reverse the flow of time in a story that certainly helped the article's views so people could make sense of it without a rewatch, while its visuals were worthy of actually being seen on a big screen, no matter if most theaters were still closed due to COVID – which is why the costly production will certainly lose some money in spite of the respectable $356 million worldwide.||Aug. 29 (U.S. release)|
|31||List of presidents of the United States||13,930,182||There've been forty-four unique Presidents of the United States—that number differs from Donald Trump's standing as the 45th because Grover Cleveland won an election, lost the next, and won the one after that. Thus #5 will be both the 46th and 45th, depending on the point of view.||Nov. 4 (day after election)|
|32||Billie Eilish||13,729,615||At just 18 years old (now 19 years old), Ms. William Eyelash became the youngest person to do a lot of things this year: get nominated for/win all four major Grammy categories (+1), write and record a James Bond theme song, perform at the Democratic National Convention, become one of the world's highest-paid celebrities, be the most-streamed female artist on Spotify in a year, have a signature root color, quote Descartes in a top-10 hit, and cause the internet to implode by wearing a tank top. In the pile of shit that was 2020, Eilish seems to have risen above it, though not without running into a few obstacles along the way. She righteously claimed that rappers be fibbin' in their music, which made her the target of criticism from those who felt she was overstepping her bounds, and, later in the year, earned undoubtedly less valid criticism from some man-babies on the bird app who she made vewwy, vewwy angwy by walking outside in form-fitting clothing (though, thankfully, this incident garnered her more support than anything.) Billie did a whole bunch of other stuff this year, too, including getting a tattoo, unfollowing everyone on Instagram, speaking out against police brutality and All Lives Matter, and joining TikTok (her first video is now the third-most liked video on the platform.) Yet for all of the buzz surrounding Eilish, who has mostly earned recognition for her music, she didn’t release much of it this year, only putting out the two aforementioned singles plus another one about how she’s gonna meet her future self à la Looper. We should be blessed with some new music from Billie and her brother (who is still dating Billie's doppelgänger) in the coming year, though, since not only has she released the trailer for her upcoming Apple TV+ documentary, but she has also promised the arrival of a new era of Billie complete with – wait for it – BRAND NEW HAIR! Eeeee!||Jan. 27 (wins 5 Grammys)|
|33||Killing of George Floyd||13,505,134||Imagine having someone kneeling on your neck for nine and a half minutes. Well, forty-six year old African-American man George Floyd didn't need to imagine it; he died from it. Floyd was asphyxiated to death by just that method by Derek Chauvin, who was a police officer two years his senior. His death sparked protests against police brutality and racism worldwide.||June 1 (autopsy)|
|34||Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh||13,484,074||In Wiki, as in life, he follows his wife. The Queen of England's most persistently frustrating appendage rode the rises and falls of interest in his wife's life, as he has for nearly 75 years. The only exception was his 99th birthday, which saw a spike for his wife as well.||Nov. 17 (after The Crown)|
|35||The Mandalorian||13,253,771||This is the way. This the way now. This is the way. The Rise of Skywalker didn't do Star Wars any favors, but thankfully fans still had Season 2 of the Disney+ show about a bounty hunter and his 50-year old baby, which along with the expected intergalactic thrills had some surprises in hand. Namely old characters, no matter how unexpected. Disney won't ignore the runaway success of The Mandalorian and is already preparing spin-offs, some related to those characters.||Dec. 19 (one day after season 2 finale)|
|36||Joe Exotic||13,212,787||Cause I saw a tiger
Now I understand
I saw a tiger, and the tiger saw a man
If there was one man who exemplified just how unpredictable this year was, it would probably have to be the gay polygamous zoo operator/potential attempted murderer/former presidential candidate right here. Joe Exotic was the talk of all the cool cats and kittens due to the release of a little Netflix docuseries called Tiger King, which chronicled the bitter rivalry between him and fellow zoo owner and possible murderer herself (okay, probable murderer) Carole Baskin. His treatment of animals might not have been so savory, but his wild antics, zany personality, unbelievable fashion, and [some other synonym for crazy] persona, earned him an easy spot in our hearts, on our screens, and on the list.
|Mar. 29 (one week after Tiger King premiered)|
|37||Charles, Prince of Wales||13,149,544||Leaving aside The Crown, the current season of which I seriously doubt he's watching, His Royal in-Waitingness's biggest boost came in March, when he came down with COVID and potentially endangered the continuation of his line. He's fine, though still waiting. If his mum lives as long as hers did, he has eight years to go.||Nov. 16 (after The Crown)|
|38||The Queen's Gambit (miniseries)||12,907,536||Besides The Crown, Netflix was taken by storm by another period piece with a regal name about an Elizabeth. In this case, mini-series The Queen's Gambit, which managed to become the streaming service's most viewed scripted limited series by dealing with the high-octane sport of... chess? Well, the game certainly becomes an addiction for prodigy Beth Harmon, as much as green tranquilizer pills (and at times, some alcohol), with the expert direction of co-creator Scott Frank making all those pieces moving look like epic battles, and Anya Taylor-Joy's performance conveying well how the character is no ordinary girl, and not only because she becomes capable of playing among the grandmasters in the very misogynistic 1960s.||Nov. 1 (shortly after release)|
|39||COVID-19 pandemic in Italy||12,553,943||Italy. Italia. Італія. 意大利. Whatever combination of syllables represent it to you, Italy is the "boot" of the Mediterranean, the home of Italian cuisine, and the first major country to be badly and famously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (#1 on the list, shocker) outside of its native China. While havoc was wreaked there that then seemed unimaginable to the rest of the world – an older population median forcing healthcare workers to make life-and-death triage decisions, serious lacks of both personnel and adequate protective equipment, and emergency expansions of isolation wards – the country turned out to be, for some others, just an indication of what lay ahead.||Mar. 22 (lockdown strengthens)|
|40||List of Marvel Cinematic Universe films||12,183,740||After kicking off with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, Marvel Studios only took a break in 2009, with every year since 2010 having at least one theatrical release adapting the comics of the "House of Ideas". Until 2020, which certainly aimed lower given the previous year had the the culmination of 21 movies that became the highest-grossing film ever, but soon had Marvel's plans derailed once theaters worldwide started to close because of a goddamned pandemic (#1), just one month prior to the release of Black Widow. Both Natasha Romanoff and the cosmic heroes of Eternals will only hit the silver screen in 2021, which will be very busy for fans as a third Spider-Man movie and a kung fu superhero are also scheduled. All we need is for the heroes of real life, the scientists developing the COVID-19 vaccine, to make going to the movies safe again.||Aug. 29 (Chadwick Boseman's death)|
|41||Antifa (United States)||11,936,594||Antifa is a decentralized group that mostly counter-protests right wing rallies. According to conservative politicians and media, it's also a dangerous terrorist organization that needs to be prosecuted. This zeal against antifa might be an attempt to criminalize any leftist opposition to the government, but it might be genuine incompetence – take, for example, the case of Chandler Wirostek: he jokingly tweeted that he was a local antifa leader, and the FBI asked him to become an informant.||May 31 (Trump denounces the concept)|
|42||Shooting of Breonna Taylor||11,918,806||"The most disrespected person in America is the black woman."
Based on its placement on this list, it seems safe to assume that most people know the basic facts of the case, but just to reiterate: Taylor, an ER technician, was with her boyfriend at his apartment, when police banged on the door and broke the hinges off without warning, despite not being at the right apartment. Soon after her boyfriend fired a shot in self-defense, officers responded by blindly firing 32 rounds into the apartment, with six hitting and killing Taylor.
Yet this case does not end with justice, as if there ever could be any for such a thoughtless crime: only one of the officers involved was so much as fired, and none were charged for causing Taylor's death. In the final weeks of the year, a statue of Breonna Taylor was vandalized with a hammer. Her name was mined for clicks and memed and mocked and everything but respected. She deserved so much better from a society whose refusal to let her live peacefully and save lives is exemplary of just how dependent this country's police system is on ending black lives at whatever cost. Rest in peace, Breonna Taylor.
|Sep. 24 (officers not charged)|
|43||Ruth Bader Ginsburg||11,884,007||RBG sat on the Supreme Court of the United States for 27 years, until her death on September 19 at the age of 87. In just over a month, her seat was filled by Amy Coney Barrett, replacing a reliable liberal vote with a (probably) reliable conservative one. Ginsberg had previously refused to resign in 2013, when Democrats held the Senate and the White House, saying that "There will be a president after this one, and I’m hopeful that that president will be a fine president."||Sep. 19 (died)|
|44||India||11,300,302||One of the ancestral homes of #4-ranked Kamala Harris, the Republic of India is a country situated in southern Asia. Characterised by large land area and population as well as a hugely vibrant culture encompassing dozens of languages (not every Indian speaks Hindi) and thousands of dialects below that as well as a successful film industry, Bollywood, plus a lot more.||Mar. 28|
|45||LeBron James||11,247,404||Completing three dominating basketballers in this list, the current star on the Los Angeles Lakers of #7 (he cried profusely when eulogizing him) and the 'rightful heir' of #15's jersey number. After an off year where he was injured and stopped a streak of 8 straight finals, "King James", now helped by Anthony Davis, made the Lakers the top team in the regular season, and once he went to Disney World to contest the playoffs four months later, trampled the competition to get his fourth title, on the way also becoming the first player to be chosen Finals MVP for three different franchises.||Oct. 12 (day after finals Game 6)|
|46||George VI||11,234,652||Elizabeth II had with the pandemic a crisis that arguably was equivalent to the one her father George VI saw as Britain entered World War II (you might have seen the movie about it, source of this hilariously NSFW scene). Though his entry here owes, of course, to The Crown, and is a demonstration of how strong the views pull caused by that show is, given that "Bertie" only appeared in the show's first two seasons, but people still seek his article during their "Wiki Walks" through the Royal Family!||Nov. 24 (after The Crown)|
|47||Money Heist||11,014,501||Money Heist, originally titled La casa de papel, is the real proof of Netflix's streaming power. Originally released in Spain, which has a lot of mystery-thriller elements even in its comedies, the show was averagely received. When Netflix decided to pick up more shows in the most widely-spoken language in the world, and people from countries without an abundance of actual drama on their TV got to see it, the show became a sensation. Or, a phenomenon, according to the title of the documentary about its cultural impact. It helps that in the few years between its Spanish run and its international platforming, the sentiments expressed by the heist team in the show had begun to resonate a lot more with a lot more people. Its use of icons – the Dalí mask and red jumpsuit, Bella ciao, the Professor's glasses – also made it instantly recognizable, easily imitable, and easy to lend itself to other facets of subculture. Cosplay and fan edits abound the internet. The fourth season by North American standards, or season 2, part 2, for the rest of the world, was eagerly anticipated after the, ahem, major cliffhanger at the end of part 3. Released in April, along with that documentary, it was one of the slew of shows that boomed at the start of pandemic quarantines: already hugely popular, and now with more people stuck at home binge-watching straight away, it rocketed to the top of Netflix's most-watched list and stayed there. Turns out people stuck inside also like watching TV about a group of friends all stuck inside, too.||Apr. 3 (season 4 released)|
|48||Melania Trump||11,004,680||There have been plenty of tell-all books about the current President of the United States, but only one about his wife: Melania and Me. The book was written by friend and former advisor Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who is being sued by the Justice Department for breach of a non-disclosure agreement. Other big news stories involving Melania this year include her and Donald visiting India in February, and a speech at the RNC in August.||Aug. 26 (RNC speech)|
|49||Amy Coney Barrett||10,943,787||A Supreme Court pick hasn't been this controversial since...well, the last one, but Scalia's mentee and Trump's rapid replacement for RBG (at #42) still managed to scrape her way into a seat as Associate Justice thanks to a Senate with a Republican majority. Concerns about her nomination were numerous, from her previously staunch disapproval of abortion rights to her evasive approach to discussing Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that legalized same-sex marriage across the United States, leading people to worry she would consider overturning it. One of the most off-putting factors of Barrett's confirmation is her lack of experience: according to Mother Jones, she is the least experienced nominee, let alone Justice, the Court has seen in 30 years. Her confirmation led to a huge uproar regarding packing the courts, or adding more seats, and we have yet to see if that will happen.||Sep. 26 (named for the Supreme Court)|
|50||Ken Miles||10,933,493||It's been a while that the subjects of movies and shows based on real life get more views than the productions themselves. And one such case is Ken Miles, a British racecar driver played by Christian Bale in Ford v Ferrari, about how Miles and car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) led Ford's racing division to win the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. Miles, who in that race finished second on a technicality, died some time afterwards testing another vehicle, but his legacy was revived last year with that movie's critical and commercial success, that in 2020 translated into many awards, including three Academy Awards (only behind the big winner at #20, and helping shut out fellow Best Picture nominee The Irishman).||Feb. 16 (Ford v Ferrari hits VOD)|