It’s the final blog in our ‘memories of the decades’ series and at first I thought to myself, ‘I have to cover the 2000s? That was like, yesterday!’ I didn’t think my content would be as nostalgic as the ‘60s or ‘70s blogs, but contrary to my initial belief, a lot happened in the first decade of the new millennium. I mean, we survived Y2K for crying out loud! All joking aside, I feel grateful to share some pieces of the decade through my eyes and I hope you enjoy it as well.
You can’t talk about television in the 2000s without mentioning reality TV. Although MTV’s The Real World pioneered the genre in 1992, shows like Survivor, Big Brother, American Idol and The Amazing Race took reality TV by storm within the first year of the new decade and they are still thriving today! Alas, not all reality shows lasted as long. The Osbournes and Newlyweds (with Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey), may you rest in peace. You were the source of much laughter in my high school years (Chicken of the Sea, anyone?). The latter part of the decade brought Jersey Shore. If it was Thursday, you knew it was JerzDay and The Situation would GTL while Vinnie and Pauly FPC before T-shirt time then head to Karma. Did you catch all that? The list goes on with Real Housewives of Atlanta/Miami/Beverly Hills/New York/New Jersey/Orange County, Teen Mom and last but certainly not least…Keeping up with the Kardashians. Say what you want about that show, but it’s been on for EIGHT SEASONS.
Although Lauren covered Friends in her ‘90s blog, it would almost be insulting for me not to mention it when covering the 2000s, as the show ended in 2004. I spent Thursday nights at my dance studio, so I never watched the show when it initially aired, but I heard all about the trials and tribulations of Ross and Rachel (‘We were on a break!’) every Friday at the lunch table in high school. Little did I know, within a couple years, I would have all ten seasons on DVD and spend hours upon hours watching the series at college and on breaks.
My name is Danielle and I was a teeny bopper. Walk into my room in the early 2000s and you couldn’t find a spot on the wall that wasn’t covered with something related to ‘NSYNC. Above the mirror on my dresser stood five dolls, one for each member of the band, which remain unopened to this day. Along with the dolls, I owned (ok, I still own) dozens of magazines with NSYNC adorned on the cover. I went to three of their concerts. My friend and I spent hours constructing a huge cardboard radio that we stood with outside on the day of the concert. For hours. In the rain. With our colored hairspray dripping into our eyes. To win backstage passes. That we didn’t win. It was devastating. But with our pruney fingers and toes, we went on to enjoy an amazing concert.
If NSYNC wasn’t your style, perhaps you were a Backstreet Boys or a 98 Degrees fan? It was the era of the boy band, but you can’t forget about the fierce pop divas: Britney, Christina, J-Lo and Destiny’s Child. Tune into TRL any day of the week and you’d be sure to find these stars on the countdown or performing.
The decade started off on a high note, with the release of Meet the Parents, where Greg Focker, played by Ben Stiller, gets put through the ringer when meeting his fianceé’s family for the first time. This is the point in the blog where I realize a lot of movie quotes I’d like to use aren’t exactly family friendly. If only ‘earmuffs’ worked in the blog world. But, if you know earmuffs, you know Old School and for that, I applaud you (‘bring your green hat!’). My senior year of high school brought the infamous Napoleon Dynamite. I can’t say that I remember much from the movie, but I do remember classmates quoting it all the time. ‘I see you’re drinking 1%. Is that ‘cause you think you’re fat? ‘Cause you’re not. You could be drinking whole if you wanted to.’
Then there were the ‘slice-of-life’ movies like Garden State and Juno. There were no crazy action scenes or jaw-dropping surprises — no fairytale love like The Notebook (another classic of the decade!). They were just about…life. Sam from Garden State said it best when she said, ‘I know it hurts. That’s life. If nothing else, it’s life. It’s real, and sometimes it hurts, but it’s sort of all we have.’
Just the fact that I have a section of this blog dedicated to social media is telling of the times. It simply wasn’t a thing prior to the 2000s. But if you were a teen in the early 2000s, hopefully you have fond memories of late night journaling sessions on your Xanga site. It was the beginning of the social media revolution, before the terms ‘friends’ and ‘following’ took on a different meaning, but the idea was there. Until recently, I could look back at all of the entries on my Xanga site and one question always comes to mind: What was I thinking posting that online?
MySpace came into play a couple years later and if you were on it, you probably experienced some angst about the order of your friend or crush’s ‘Top 8.’ MySpace was a stepping stone on the social media journey that led us to Facebook. Introduced a year after MySpace in 2004, Facebook was originally only open to college students. By 2006, it was open to everyone and now, there are 1.15 BILLION monthly active users. Since Facebook, people have learned to shorten their message to 140 characters or less for the sake of a ‘tweet’ via Twitter. For better and for worse, social media has changed the way news spreads. Speaking of news, the biggest story of the decade deserves its own section.
September 11th, 2001
I’ve heard it being compared to the attack on Pearl Harbor, where everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when it happened. On September 11th, I was 14 years old and a freshman in high school. It was second period and I was in study hall, sitting next to an old neighborhood friend, Tamara. There weren’t TVs in every classroom and I think I remember teachers trying to get them so we could watch the coverage. As an avid journal writer, I’m lucky to be able to look back at my thoughts and feelings at the time of the event, and I wrote:
“This is bigger than Pearl Harbor. I really hope this doesn’t turn into a war, that would be horrible. I feel like I’m in a movie or something, like it’s not actually happening. You just never think something this bad could happen. It’s all over the news all the time. Airports closed, stock market closed, malls closed, every flag is being set at half-staff. ”
It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than 12 years since the attacks, but it is important to remember the lives that were lost, the family and friends who lost loved ones, and the bravery and unity we saw in the days, months and years that followed.