Looking into the major themes, trends, and happenstances of 2014

Eyebrows, Elevators, and Michelle Pfeiffer: 2014 in Pop Culture

December 31, 2014 / by / 131 Comments

You can find all the top 5, 10, 50, 100 lists of 2014 you want for literally everything that can be ranked. But what do pages of unrelated Best Ofs really mean? To get to the heart of what 2014 was truly about, we’ve got to look at the year’s major themes and trends.

2014 Was The Year of The Eyebrow

No single facial feature had as much importance in our culture this year than the eyebrow. Perhaps you started noticing this when you went to hate-watch Noah in theaters and thought, ‘Dang, Jennifer Connelly’s eyebrows are amazing!” Maybe your realization didn’t arrive until you saw supermodel Cara Delevigne’s intense brows lighting up almost every major advertisement this year. Eyebrows were so essential to 2014 that they popularized the term ‘fleek’ into mainstream usage after the ‘eyebrows on fleek’ meme blew up. You know you’ve thought a lot more about how bold your brows are looking this year more than any, and while this trend will surely continue on into 2015, we can thank the bold 2014 pioneers for making the Eyebrow such an essential part of 2014.

The year of the eyebrow

2014 Was The Year of Best Friends Moving Away (mild TV spoilers ahead)

Maybe it’s just because I also moved thousands of miles away from everyone and everything I know, but this year on television stood out as an especially heartbreaking time for best friends. Within one television season, we saw Ann and Chris of Parks & Recreation leave Leslie Knope behind as they moved to Indianapolis, the How I Met Your Mother gang contemplate their lives after they all moved away from New York in the show’s season finale, and Christina and Meredith of Grey’s Anatomy having one last hospital dance party before Christina moved to Switzerland. Largely due to actors wanting leaving their respective shows, you still can’t help but think that 2014 was telling you maybe it’s time to move on, even if that means leaving your best friends behind.

Parks and Rec Ann moves away

How I Met Your Mother


2014 Was The Year of Guys Self-Destructively Smashing Into Glass

One of the more popular visual metaphors in Oscar-contending films this year was serious dudes smashing their heads, fists, and entire bodies into glass. Between Channing Tatum’s devastating hotel room scene in Foxcatcher, Jake Gyllenhaal’s dark freak out in Nightcrawler, and Miles Teller’s climactic car crash in Whiplash, there was a lot of blood and broken glass seen out of the space between audiences’ fingers as they covered their eyes from these deeply personal, self-inflicted wounds.

2014 Was The Year of Michelle Pfeiffer

Michelle Pfeiffer has not acted in a single movie in 2014. Her last film, The Family in 2013, came and went, mostly forgotten by the general public. Yet for some reason, Michelle Pfeiffer’s name was inescapable this year—at least if you listened to the radio. In Vance Joy’sRiptide,’ the lyrics, “Closest thing to Michelle Pfeiffer that you’ve ever seen,” bizarrely equate Pfeiffer with the epitome of stardom. Bruno Mars and Marc Ronson’s hit ‘Uptown Funk’ opens with a shout-out to “That ice cold Michelle Pfeiffer.” No one person’s name has been used so frequently in pop music since Jason Derulo couldn’t stop saying his own in 2011. I have no explanation for 2014’s musical appreciation of Batman Returns’ Catwoman, so I guess we’ll just wait and see what 2015 has in store for her.

2014 was the year of Michelle Pfeiffer

2014 Was The Year of Elevators

In celebrity news, quite a range of emotions emerged from the small space of an elevator. We’ll start with the good: Reese Witherspoon, Cara Delevigne, Zooey Deschanel, and Kate Upton, among others, drunkenly rode an elevator together at the Met Gala. Then there’s the bizarre: Solange fighting with Jay-Z, the details of which are still pretty cloudy. And of course, the terrible: Ray Rice attacking his wife Janay Palmer. For celebrities, the elevator may seem like the one place they have a short reprieve from onlookers, but as the news in 2014 proved, someone’s always watching.

In 2014, Things That Were Popular Were Also Good

So rarely does the culture at large come to a consensus about the quality of anything. And while some may still dissent from the overwhelmingly positive reviews of this year’s most popular cultural touchstones, overall, we came to agree about some things. This summer’s blockbuster hit Guardians of the Galaxy was well received by virtually every audience member, be they a super hero fan or not. The combination of humor, action, and buff Chris Pratt was indisputably great. Next came the undeniably well-crafted Taylor Swift album 1989, which converted many to the cult of TSwift and made others question their identities as they asked, “Wait, am I really enjoying a Taylor Swift song right now?” Finally, the podcast that took you, your friends, your parents, and everyone at every party you went to in the past 3 months by storm, Serial. Everyone has their opinions of what might have happened in the case of Adnan Syed, but one thing we can all agree on is that Sarah Koenig and her crew took us on a riveting investigative journey. Let’s hope 2015 can give us just as many excellent things to agree on.

2014 was the year of popular things being good