18 Things From 2009 We Miss
These are the 2009 TV shows, pop culture moments, and memes we can't forget.
Nostalgia sometimes clouds our judgment: The years and decades we pine for make memories of the past seem particularly wonderful, especially when compared to our complicated present. Take the year 2009, for example. It was just 10 years ago and yet, for some of us, it feels like a more carefree, innocent time than the world we live in today. Sure, 2009 also had swine flu, the Great Recession, Octomom, and your relatives constantly sending you Farmville invites, but there are moments from that not-so-distant past we genuinely long for. Here are 18 things from 2009 that we miss.
Watching shows week-to-week
Netflix was very much a thing in 2009, but back then it was mostly just for DVD delivery. Although the company had recently launched a streaming service, it was years from becoming everyone's favorite addiction. TV shows had to be consumed at a reasonable rate—one episode a week instead of an entire season in one 10-hour sitting.
Mad Men and Breaking Bad
You can watch shows faster these days, and you don't have to look far to find great TV. But back in 2009, people were still getting used to the idea that a TV show could be better than the majority of movies. And to have not one but two of the greatest TV series ever created on the air at the same time was simply unprecedented. Even if you were having a terrible week, you could just remind yourself that there were new episodes of Breaking Bad and Mad Men on the horizon, and everything would be OK.
It wasn't just about prestige TV either. When MTV's reality show Jersey Shore premiered in 2009 and introduced us to lovable underachievers like Snooki, JWoww, and The Situation, they became overnight celebrities. Love them or hate them, everybody at least had an opinion. Just how famous were they? Even Leonardo DiCaprio was a fan.
It was a golden age for online authorship, when just about anyone could live out their David Sedaris fantasies, sharing their intimate thoughts for a captive audience. If you knew somebody in 2009 who didn't have a blog, they probably didn't own a computer. As The Guardian declared at the time in a story about the world's most powerful blogs, "Blogging has never been bigger."
Facebook being intimate
Facebook was already an online behemoth, but not something that everyone had discovered yet—or could access. It still felt cool, or at least cooler than MySpace, which was slowly becoming passé. But more importantly, it felt intimate: You were just communicating with your friends, not distant relatives and spammers. If you want a sense of how fast Facebook was growing, the social network had 150 million members at the beginning of 2009, and that number had doubled to 300 million by the end of the year.
Singing Black Eyed Peas songs
The year belonged to the Black Eyed Peas. They had two of the most popular songs of 2009, according to Billboard, with "I Gotta Feeling" and "Boom Boom Pow." All these years later, we're still not sure what the latter was supposed to be about—something to do with supersonic booms and spaceship zooms and chickens jacking your style? But it was surprisingly fun to sing along to!
Funny Bradley Cooper
Mention the name Bradley Cooper today and you think of critically-acclaimed movies like American Sniper or A Star Is Born, which he also directed. In both films, he played a tortured, brooding man struggling with demons. But in 2009, Cooper wasn't yet a superstar, and he definitely wasn't getting cast in roles that demanded that level of intensity. He was the goofball friend in comedies like The Hangover and Wedding Crashers. If someone invited you to see a Bradley Cooper movie, your first thought was usually, "I bet this is gonna be hilarious," and not, "I should bring tissues."
For many people, BlackBerry's instant messaging service will always be the best connectivity tool, which is why there was a genuine outcry when it was shut down for good earlier this year. Does it sound a little silly to get all verklempt over antiquated technology? Maybe, but we tend to agree with singer Shawn Mendes, who tweeted, "I miss BBM, if everyone was down id switch back to it in a heartbeat haha."
Believing açaí would solve all our problems
We put a lot of faith in these purple berries from the Amazon. The so-called "superfood" could apparently help you lose weight, gain energy, increase your libido, and slow down the aging process. Ah, if only life were that simple. The truth is, they're high in antioxidants and a great source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and E. They also contain plenty of minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, and copper. But otherwise no, they're probably not a miracle food.
From the Twilight film series, which followed the romantic exploits of vampire Edward and his human objet d'affection Bella, to the HBO show True Blood, in which vampires were both the good guys and the bad guys, 2009 was a year when the entire nation went ga-ga for the fanged and remarkably handsome undead. It wasn't the first time vampires had taken over pop culture, but they'd never been this easy on the eyes.
Playing video games in person with friends
Pokémon Go was still years away, as were Brawl Stars and Fortnite. If you wanted to play video games with other people, you mostly had to play on a single console, and all of the players had to be in the same room. It sounds so archaic now, but it was actually kind of beautiful. We love multiplayer online gaming, but we also love human interaction—and being able to occasionally make eye contact with our fellow gamers.
These synchronized and seemingly spontaneous dance parties had been around for years, but by 2009 they had become part of the cultural zeitgeist. Flash mobs seemed to be everywhere, closing down train stations in Liverpool and catching Oprah by surprise in Chicago. "We're out to prove that a prank doesn't have to involve humiliation or embarrassment," flash mob organizer Charlie Todd said in a 2009 interview with CNN. "It can simply be about making someone laugh, smile, or stop to notice the world around them." Someone restart the trend, stat!
Not being asked to donate to unworthy causes
Kickstarter launched in 2009, and other crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and Patreon followed in subsequent years. For the most part, if you wanted to raise money a decade ago, your options were limited. That wasn't such a bad thing. Because while there have been plenty of worthy causes on crowdfunding sites, there have also been people asking strangers for money to make anti-zombie soap, or rescue Matt Damon from Mars, or create fake five o'clock shadows. In 2009, we weren't constantly being pestered with requests to donate to frivolous projects, and honestly, we didn't know how good we had it.
The happy Gosselins
Jon and Kate Gosselin—and their eight (eight!) kids—were reality stars thanks to their hit TLC show Jon & Kate Plus 8. Yes, their lives looked like chaos, but at least they were a loving family that actually cared for each other, right? That illusion began to shatter midway through 2009, when the couple first announced that their marriage was in trouble. By the end of the year, their divorce was finalized, but we'll always have the happy memories from their TV glory years.
"I'mma let you finish!" jokes
Hip-hop superstar Kanye West has a history of unpredictable antics, but few have been as memorable as his impromptu stage-crash during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Poor Taylor Swift was just trying to accept her award for Best Video by a Female Artist when West jumped onstage and said, "Yo, Taylor, I'm really happy for you. I'mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!" Suddenly the entire world became Kanye impersonators, and everybody had their own unique take on "I'mma let you finish!"
Disney Channel Miley Cyrus
Back in 2009, the (then) 16-year old singer and actress was mostly known for playing the titular role on the Disney Channel's Hannah Montana. Miley Cyrus was America's sweetheart, someone you felt safe letting your tweens watch on TV unattended. She's had ups and downs since then, and by now, her Disney image is a distant memory.
James Cameron's sci-fi epic Avatar wasn't just a blockbuster movie—until very recently, it was the highest-grossing film of all time—but also a stunning achievement in special effects. The CGI was jaw-droppingly realistic, and the 3D was unlike anything audiences had seen before. It's hard to remember anymore, especially now that we expect every big-budget film to have Avatar-level effects, but there was a time when we could go to the movies and barely believe our own eyes.
Movies that weren't about superheroes
Here's something people might not remember about movies a decade ago—they weren't all made by Marvel or DC. We're not trying to pull a Martin Scorsese and pretend we don't love superhero movies. But we do miss that time in movie history when the majority of movies at the local multiplex weren't about mutants in latex. Iron Man had come out in 2008, and a year later, we had no idea what an expansive, culture-defining series that would spawn. Today, we're paranoid about seeing Avengers: Endgame if we haven't seen all 20-plus films leading up to it.