The Biggest Pop Culture Conversations of 2014, Month by Month

You might think 2014 has been filled with schlocky blockbusters, crummy television, problematic podcasts, hackneyed celebrity feuds, vapid Hollywood trends, and ill-formed behind-the-scenes decisions…and you might be right. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been an interesting year. There’s been nary a break in the action for pop culture throughout ’14, with every month supplying its own new conversation in the media of film, TV, the celebrity circuit, or the viral world. At times, we were brought to celebrate a new, astoundingly admirable piece of world. Far more often, we were called upon to castigate one. Either way, we didn’t really mind. We were having fun.

But what were the biggest conversation pieces to break this year? What kicked off with a stronghold on January, blossomed in July after a dull June, and edged Gone Girl out of the top hashtag spot in October? We’re running back through 2014, month by month, to determine what were our favorite things to chat about over these past 365 days.

(Oh, and don’t worry if you missed the boat on one of these ostensibly all-encompassing topics. Once 2015 rolls around, you’ll have a clean slate — the American attention span can’t hold onto a pop culture phenomena for too long after a new one rears its frightful head!)

Image: Disney


Kicking off the year and adding perhaps the most prominent rung to Matthew McConaughey’s ladder to stardom, the HBO miniseries True Detective was pretty much all anyone could talk about back in January. That tracking shot alone commanded the majority of conversations in the week following its broadcast.

Image: HBO


History’s most predictable Academy Awards allowed for the conversation to stay bridled to the small screen for a bit longer. Thus, we’d spend the month ruminating on Jimmy Fallon’s ascension to The Tonight Show (despite the advanced time slot, he’s still the same goofy kid he was after hours) and Seth fellow Saturday Night Live vet Seth Meyers’ new gig on Late Night.

Image: NBC


Captain America: The Winter Soldier no doubt left viewers satisfied, but prompted one probing question indicating that we wanted more: When are they gonna make a Black Widow movie? Watching Scarlett Johansson handle a good deal of the film’s heavy lifting was encouragement for Marvel movie lovers to take to the Internet with open requests for a Natalia Romanova standalone. We’re still waiting…

Image: Disney


Fans were certainly riled up about the long-awaited finale of How I Met Your Mother, swarming social media with vociferous contempt for the showrunners’ decision to kill off Cristin Milioti’s plucky Tracy McConnell at some point in the narrative prior to the beginning of Future Ted’s story.

Image: CBS


Not since Drive has any elevator housed such a dramatic series of events. The Knowles family became the unwitting subject of publicity when security camera footage revealed a physical altercation between Beyonce’s husband Jay Z and her sister Solange. The American public would speculate tirelessly about what really went down in that lift.

Image: Getty

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Not much, honestly. TV was out of season. The biggest movie was Transformers: Age of Extinction. What was there to say?

Image: Getty

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It is a rare condition indeed for a charitable movement to beget a celebrity-laden pop culture trend, but the summer of 2014 saw such a phenomenon unfurl via the Ice Bucket Challenge. Every conceivable famous person got in on the racket with his or her own video.

Image: Getty

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One of the saddest conversations of the year came about in August, when the world got news of Robin Williams’ death. The following weeks were spent in simultaneous mourning and celebration of the comedic legend, with so many fans revisiting their favorite Williams pictures like Mrs. Doubtfire, Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King, and (for me, at least) Popeye.

Image: 20th Century Fox


Another grave discussion sprung in the fall, stirring up from a vitriolic attack on a female video game critic and growing to encompass the vast issue of the subjugation and demonization of women in the media altogether. GamerGate, Emma Watson’s speech, and a resurgence of the #YesAllWomen quotient (which would be revisited in the following month’s film Gone Girl) bolstered a conversation of which we’d long been in need.

Image: Getty

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Wow, I guess we’re quite the grim bunch. One of the most popular pieces of entertainment (and I use that word nervously here) to premiere in 2014 is undoubtedly Serial, the podcast that resurfaced a 15-year-old murder case with arguably ill-conceived vigor. Whether you loved it or thought it was just a pot-stirring problem, odds are that you talked about Serial.

Image: Serialpodcast.org


You know we live in an interesting time when a 14-minute parody video that broadcast initially at 2 AM on Cartoon Network earned a prominent place in the pop culture sun. Too Many Cooks, the oddball Adult Swim project that served to send-up 1980s sitcoms as well as cut all ties between the modern American public and its sense of emotional security, was all anyone could talk about for the first week of November… even though no one really knew what to say.

Image: Adult Swim


And topping the lot for the year in entirety: the whole shebang with The Interview, North Korea, the Sony hacks, Amy Pascal, and (to a lesser, but special) extent, Channing Tatum’s wacky emails. After catching wind of the Seth Rogen/James Franco goofball flick, North Korea demanded it be shelved. Then, a group of anonymous hackers drilled into Sony’s database and released legions of privileged information and content. Then, threats. Then, Sony pulled The Interview. Then, America unleashed its backlash. Then, Sony un-pulled The Interview. Then, we all watched The Interview. Then, nobody really liked The Interview that much. This story would make a great movie in its own right!

Image: Columbia Pictures