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The 2020 exit survey: What will you remember about 2020?

The Deseret News trending and entertainment team decided to reflect on the year 2020 and what we should expect next year.

Two women walk in the town of Codogno, in the region of Lombardia, northern Italy, Wednesday, March 11, 2020.
Two women walk in the town of Codogno, in the region of Lombardia, northern Italy, Wednesday, March 11, 2020.
Claudio Furlan, La Presse via Associated Press

The year 2020 is, in a word, unforgettable. Seriously. We tend to say that most years since every year has something we won’t forget. But 2020 is definitely one for the books. A historic pandemic. Economic collapse. A wild election that questioned democracy in itself.

Yeah, I’d say it’s a year we won’t soon forget.

People are itching to reach 2021. Promises of a vaccine linger. The desire for excitement and a return to normal is pushing us to make our way around the corner.

Before we get there, we have to reflect on the year we just had. It was such a wild and confusing year that we can’t NOT talk about everything we’ve seen.

So our team decided to pull together to run through what the best and worst of the year looked like. If you feel like weighing in, email us at hscribner@deseretnews.com!

Favorite meme:

Herb Scribner: I don’t know if this counts, but I remember people took the “this is fine” meme of the dog inside a burning building and eliminated the fire once Joe Biden was elected president. I just thought that was a funny response to the new president-elect and a sign of how people’s emotions were shifting about the coming year.

Sarah Harris: One of my favorite memes this year came out near the end of June and said something to the effect of, “Dear July, I don’t want any trouble from you. Just come in, sit down, don’t touch anything and keep your mouth shut.” This made me chuckle, thinking how crazy 2020 had already been, yet we were only halfway through the year.

Nate Schwartz: There was a wave of incredible memes that came from “The Last Dance” documentary series about Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Bulls. From Jordan’s “And I took that personally” scene to Isiah Thomas’s comments on his Dream Team snub, the series was jam packed with meme-able moments. Even nine months later, “Last Dance” memes are still flooding my TL.

Valerie Jones: I loved the “How it started/How it’s going” trend that went around Twitter for a while. It seemed to really fit 2020, because it was so versatile — it started really inspirationally, with people using it to show how their relationships had progressed or how they grew in their careers, but then it sort of turned into this commentary on everything from politics to the year 2020 itself.

Lottie Johnson: I’ve gotten a huge kick out of the “2020 has been hard on all of us” memes. One of these memes attributes the quote to Taylor Swift — but instead of a picture of Swift in the middle it shows Dog the Bounty Hunter. Another one attributes the quote “2020 has been a difficult year” to Cher — and then features a photo of Alice Cooper. It’s a hilarious way of conveying just how exhausting this year has been.

Favorite pre-pandemic moment:

Herb: It has to be my small trip to Disneyland back in February. It was right before the pandemic hit. So much sunshine and so many days full of promise. News about the coronavirus hovered nearby. Everyone was thinking it might happen or that it could reach the United States. But it hadn’t arrived yet. Little did we know we wouldn’t have a chance to see Disneyland again for a long time — and we’re still years away from seeing it.

Sarah: About a week before things started shutting down in Utah due to the pandemic, I had the opportunity to review a performance of the touring production of “Dear Evan Hansen” at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City. I will never forget that meaningful experience and the impact the musical has had on me.

Nate: About a month before the shutdowns, I was fortunate enough to take a weeklong school trip to Los Angeles. While I was there I covered a Lakers-Suns game and interviewed Ricky Rubio and Talen Horton-Tucker, I photographed Tiger Woods at the Genesis Invitational and I watched the 92nd Academy Awards from some fancy pants restaurant in Santa Monica — it was all almost too good to be true. I should’ve known the year was about to take a nosedive.

Valerie: In January, I went to see “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City. Looking back on it now, it feels like a completely different world — the theater was full, no one was wearing a mask, and I sat next to a person I didn’t know. It seems so wild to think about now, and I look forward to seeing full theaters again.

Lottie: Seeing master violinist Itzhak Perlman in concert at BYU is hands-down my favorite pre-pandemic moment. Tickets sold out fast — in under a minute — and I was crushed when I wasn’t able to snag one. Eventually, I was able to get a reviewer ticket for the once-in-a-lifetime performance. I was so happy that I started crying during a work meeting (my editors were surprisingly understanding of this). Perlman’s performance lived up to my personal hype. I’ll never forget it.

Favorite virtual event:

Herb: Streaming “The Mandalorian” at the wicked early hours of the day. I’m not sure if that really counts, but I’m picking it because it’s the one single event where everyone on my timeline unites around the “Star Wars” fandom.

Sarah: The release of “Hamilton” on Disney Plus was a favorite for me. I have enjoyed being able to watch the film and have a Broadway experience at home during the pandemic.

Nate: The NBA bubble turned out to be so much more entertaining than I was expecting. High-level basketball almost every day for nearly three months — that was definitely a pandemic treat for sports fans. Who’s going to forget the 8-0 Suns, the Donovan Mitchell vs. Jamal Murray showdown or LeBron winning his fourth ring? Aside from the Jazz blowing a 3-1 lead in the playoffs, the NBA bubble was an unequivocal success in my book.

Valerie: Probably the “Parks and Rec” reunion episode, all the way back in April. It was really fun to see everyone back together (at least virtually) as their characters, and they even managed to keep the tone of the original show after five years apart. Plus, they used it to raise money for a really good cause!

Lottie: Watching Andrea Bocelli sing “Amazing Grace” in front of the historic Duomo Cathedral in Milan, Italy. It was Easter Sunday, and we were just one month into the pandemic. I remember sitting next to my husband on a black beanbag in my basement as the moment unfolded on YouTube. It moved me to tears and gave me some much-needed hope.

Most memorable Twitter moment:

Herb: The summer protests. It was inspiring to see so many people weighing in during the summer protests around racial injustice, the death of George Floyd and so many other key issues in our country. Videos from celebrities and athletes permeated through our feeds. There was so much local reporting going on, too. You really got a good sense of what was happening in our country.

Sarah: Near the end of such a tough year, it was nice to see the positivity on social media brought about by the #GiveThanks challenge from President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Nate: There was a moment over the summer when a series of videos were bouncing around Twitter showing everyday items being cut in half to reveal that they were actually cakes. The videos sparked a lot of jokes about people being unable to identify what is and isn’t cake anymore; it was one the year’s lighter, more wholesome moments.

Valerie: Back in March, right after everything had started closing down, Andrew Lloyd Webber challenged Lin-Manuel Miranda to a piano “play-off” on Twitter. They took turns playing each other’s songs (Miranda played “Everything’s Alright” from “Jesus Christ Superstar” and Webber played “You’ll Be Back” from “Hamilton”) and used it as a chance to raise money and awareness for out-of-work theater workers, since Broadway (and many other theaters) had just shut down. It was just a really wholesome moment during a stressful time.

Lottie: I’m not the most prolific Twitter user, but the best moment for me personally was when Ken Jennings retweeted me — in a really funny way. I’ve been a fan of “Jeopardy!” and Jennings for years, so this was a big deal to me. I took a screenshot of the tweet and sent it to all of my friends. Now, I basically spend my time on Twitter trying to come up with clever things to say in the hopes that Jennings will retweet me again.

Favorite song:

Herb: So many good gems this year. I became a podcast guy during the pandemic if I’m being honest. But I loved the song “Laugh Now, Cry Later” from Drake. It dropped around the same time the NBA came back in late summer. So it always brings back those happier moments of the summer.

Sarah: “Invisible String” by Taylor Swift, because 2020 was the year I finally found my place in Swift’s music as a folk music lover with her album “Folklore,” and this is my favorite song from the album.

Nate: Have you ever tried to listen to “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd without dancing? It’s impossible, can’t be done. The whole “After Hours” album slaps, but that song spent a month on top of Billboard’s Hot 100 for a reason. When The Weeknd performs at the Super Bowl in February, I’m gonna throw a one-person rave.

Valerie: I’m going to have to second Taylor Swift. I hadn’t even gotten over “Folklore” before she surprise-released “Evermore” earlier this month. Her greatest strength in her music has always been her storytelling, and she really just went all-in on that with both albums. The music on both is just so easy to get lost in, which to me makes it ideal stay-at-home, pandemic-era listening. But if I had to choose just one song, it would be the title track from “Evermore.” The piano is gorgeous, and the song really shows off her talent as a storyteller/songwriter.

Lottie: I got into the NBC show “Songland” this year. On this competition show, undiscovered songwriters pitch their original songs to chart-topping artists and music producers. This season, I enjoyed Utah singer-songwriter Ryan Innes’ song “Long Way Home,” which got picked up by “The Voice” Season 18 winner Todd Tilghman in May. I also really loved Griffen Palmer’s clever song “Second Guessing,” which ended up getting cut by Florida Georgia Line. It also became the wedding song for my sister-in-law, who got married in December.

Favorite moment in the pandemic:

Herb: The NBA’s return. It was just great to see the league pull off the return. We had new music from Damian Lillard and Meek Mill released around that time, too, to mark the moment. We got to see LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Luke Doncic, Donovan Mitchell and so many other stars back on the court, symbolizing a slight return to normalcy. It was a golden moment in what had been a gloomy year.

Sarah: A favorite moment for me was the release of Disney Parks recipes like churros and Dole Whip. I enjoyed making the “Grey Stuff” at home.

Nate: My college graduation ceremony was held over Zoom. I always knew it’d be an unforgettable day, but I never imagined I’d be wearing my cap and gown in front of a laptop. A few of my classmates were underwhelmed, which I understand, but for me, I felt the event was a perfect microcosm of this bonkers year. Even amid world-shaking challenges, we were able to accomplish a few extraordinary things.

Valerie: “Hamilton” coming to Disney Plus, no question. A friend and I had been planning to travel to San Francisco to see “Hamilton” in March, but canceled our plans when we realized that COVID-19 was getting serious. So getting to see “Hamilton” just a few months later from my own home, starring the original cast, was definitely a bright spot.

Lottie: From about mid-March until early May, my husband and I ordered takeout for dinner just about every single night. I’m not exaggerating. I started working from home during this time, and we liked to joke that my way of getting some fresh air was to go pick up the food.

What will you remember most?

Herb: March 11. I’ll always remember that night, sitting around a dinner table at Gormandi’s. All of us enjoying our meal, joking about the coronavirus like it was a mere idea rather than something real. Then, we got the app alerts about Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and Rudy Gobert. Everything changed that night. Many people in the country shifted their thinking and knew the pandemic was real.

Sarah: I will remember how technology took on an even more important role in my day-to-day life. The pandemic has made me especially grateful for the tools that allow me to work, worship, shop and communicate with others remotely.

Nate: I’ll always remember the evenings I spent hanging out with my family. It feels like every night we’ve either played a game or watched a show together. This pandemic has been difficult in myriad ways, but one small silver lining is the opportunity it provided me to cultivate my familial relationships.

Valerie: I’d also have to say March 11. It was also the day we were told that we’d be working from home, and I remember thinking that it would last maybe a month at the most. Several months later, I’ve gone back to the office exactly one time — to get something from my desk.

Lottie: I got a giant floor piano for Christmas last year — like the one in the Tom Hanks movie “Big.” It’s probably the coolest gift I’ve ever received, but until the pandemic hit, I didn’t really have time to play with it much. About a month into the pandemic, I taught myself how to play Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places.” I spent hours literally running up and down the piano, playing the chorus with as much gusto as I could muster (this is also an excellent — and fun! — way to work out). This was the moment I realized 2020 was truly going to be a year like no other.

What do you plan to forget?

Herb: All of the fear. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been worried about going to the store, going on a walk, visiting a friend or family member, or driving in a car. So many things have filled me with worry and doubt. I can’t wait to leave that part behind me.

Sarah: I hope I can forget the instinct to distance myself from others and stay away from those I love during the pandemic. I am looking forward to hugging my family and friends again when it’s safe to do so.

Nate: Since January I’ve been trying to forget that my beloved San Francisco 49ers blew a 10-point lead to the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV. When I close my eyes to sleep at night I see Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid showing off their rings and laughing at me.

Valerie: All the fighting over toilet paper. Yikes.

Lottie: The tension between the BYU and Coastal Carolina football players during the unexpected, last-minute matchup on Dec. 5. These are my two favorite college football teams. It was a hard decision to determine who to root for, and it practically broke my heart that the game created such a testy environment — namely due to Chanticleer Jeffrey Gunter repeatedly knocking BYU QB Zach Wilson to the ground. Don’t get me wrong — it was a thrilling game. I just wanted my two teams to get along!

What was your personal best moment?

Herb: I’ll never forget going on a walk while wearing a mask. An older man walked by me, also wearing a mask. He waved at me and a nod, smiling as he did so. It was a sign — a brief one — that we were both keeping each other safe and trying to avoid the virus.

Sarah: My best moment was finding out I was pregnant with my first child. It was a happy time for me during a challenging year and has given my husband and I something positive to focus on.

Nate: Learning that Deseret News decided to bring me on as an intern! Although we’re not physically in the newsroom, I’ve had a blast researching and writing stories, growing as a journalist and working (virtually) alongside truly talented and supportive people.

Valerie: In November, I did National Novel Writing Month for the first time. Although I didn’t reach my word count goal, I still felt like anything was an achievement during such a crazy year. And honestly, having a creative outlet was the only thing that got me through the stress of the election.

Lottie: Becoming a first-time homeowner! My husband and I closed the deal on perhaps the unluckiest of all Friday the 13ths, back in March. Weirdly, though, it was good timing for us. Until then, we’d only lived in basement apartments. As I began the work-from-home life, I quickly came to appreciate — and still do — big windows that let in sunshine as I type up stories from the couch.

What was your least favorite moment?

Herb: March 11 sticks out because of the app alerts about Rudy Gobert and Tom Hanks. It also wasn’t fun when I learned my grandmother had COVID-19, and we didn’t know what would happen to her. She survived the first go-around. I hope she doesn’t catch it again.

Sarah: My least favorite moment was realizing how serious the pandemic would still be during the holidays. My husband and I made the difficult decision not to travel home to visit our families this year, and we have missed celebrating with them.

Nate: Finishing college with online classes was tough. Learning to work, study, eat, sleep and unwind all in the same space was a difficult transition for me. Heck, we’re coming up on the year mark and I still have a hard time with it some days.

Valerie: Definitely not spending holidays like Thanksgiving with my family. In the long run, it’s a small price to pay for keeping people safe, but it doesn’t make the decision any less hard.

Lottie: Finding out Kobe Bryant had died. The friend who broke the news to me on that Sunday in January isn’t even into sports, but she knows I’ve always loved Kobe. I have so many memories of staying up really late with my dad (the curse of growing up on the East Coast) to watch Lakers games. I cried a little every day for at least a week straight. RIP, Kobe.

What’s the first thing you’re doing when you get the vaccine?

Herb: I know I’ll probably have to wear a mask after getting the vaccine. But I’ll be bumping “Mask Off” by Future all day.

Sarah: I will be looking for the soonest opportunity to visit my loved ones in a safe way.

Nate: You’ll catch me spending an unhealthy amount of time at the movie theater gobbling down buttered popcorn and basking in the glories of surround sound and 50-foot screens.

Valerie: I really miss traveling. It won’t be the very first thing I do, but I’m really looking forward to traveling somewhere outside of the U.S. as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Lottie: I’m going to hug so many people. And then I’m going to grab a calendar and start making up for all the things I didn’t get to do in 2020.