In 2019, save a few health and human services professionals, no one anticipated a new year gripped by a global pandemic.
We were in the dark about Broadway dimming its lights and film projectors lying fallow. We couldn’t have imagined the Emmys being doled out by Hazmat-suited gofers. We might have expected the continuation of Rudy Giuliani’s precipitous fall from grace, but the triple whammy of Four Seasons Landscaping, the “Borat 2” debacle and the “My Cousin Vinny” meltdown defied the forecasts of even our most seasoned seers.
I certainly wouldn’t blame you, then, for taking issue with any kind of pop culture prognostication for the year to come. And yet, it is my charge to observe the tea leaves, watch the stirrings of the crystal ball and auger to the best of my ability the world we are about to inherit. Here are 21 absolutely on-the-mark predictions about what’s coming our way in 2021.
1. Gal Gadot is cast as John Lennon in a forthcoming experimental biopic. The “Cleopatra” kerfuffle is promptly forgotten.
2. Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi will return with: Quibi Turbo. The reboot comes after increasing demand for short term content during waits for quickie COVID vaccines.
3. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, unable to book dinner reservations or hair appointments in New York City, retreat to Bedminster, New Jersey and begin a charity for casualties of “cancel culture:” the Parler Parlor.
5. Animal rights activist Joaquin Phoenix becomes the face of lab-grown meat, debuting his endorsement with a restaging of his “Joker” dance in which he kicks real meat hamburgers off those precarious steps before arriving at a landing with a platter of cruelty-free, cell culture-derived sausages.
6. Jeffrey Toobin makes it to the “Dancing with the Stars” finals after mastering the Lambada.
7.Bari Weiss founds a media company with Nick Cannon. Anchoring it is a “Morning Joe”-type program, “The Weiss Cannon,” which features hard-charging interviews and hip-hop improv. The endeavor shutters due to poor ratings.
8. Doja Cat releases the year’s first hit with the song “Ben Shapiro,” sampling the pundit’s criticisms of pro-BDS members of Congress and his indignant recitation of the “WAP” lyrics.
9. Javanka’s charity spawns a series of alternative exclusive clubs, restaurants and tailors. These “Parler Parlors” are inconspicuously dotted across urban hubs with a telltale “JI” etched onto their doors. To access them, one has to present a series of hostile subtweets at a scanner near the entrance.
10. Following an election loss, Bibi disappears into obscurity, only to be outed as the “Bamba Baby” in the first episode of Israel’s adaptation of “The Masked Singer.”
11.Zachary Levi gives the people what they want and converts already.
12. Woody Allen releases a film set in Europe involving an intergenerational romance. This time, though, the characters have all read “White Fragility.”
13. Lacking a regular TV platform in a post-Trump presidency, Alan Dershowitz pitches “Judge Dersh” to Quibi Turbo. He mostly handles parking disputes.
14. Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner’s long-awaited “West Side Story” film confuses viewers and critics with the addition of new character Hecky (Meryl Streep), a member of the Jets who can’t show up for the rumble: “I don’t rumble on Shabbos.”
15. Following Bob Dylan’s unprecedented 2020, which saw him release a surprise album of new material and sell his complete song catalog, the Nobel winner launches a Twitch channel. He only plays Tetris.
16. John Mulaney and Nick Kroll produce an “Oh, Hello” prequel in which they play slightly younger versions of crotchety roommates Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland trying to sell a single to Steely Dan. Seth Rogen and James Franco cameo as Dan founders Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.
17. Straphangers in New York are puzzled to discover a suitcase brimming with a mauve currency with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s faces on it. A Gothamist investigation finds that the Javanka Bucks are exchanged exclusively at Parler Parlors. The conversion rate is one Javanka Buck to $67.3 U.S. dollars.
18. Tiffany Hadish and Drake begin a public beef over who has the better brisket recipe: Taylor Swift or Drake’s mom. Their feud is a brutal ordeal, involving several diss tracks and a Comedy Central roast in which Haddish dares Drake to drink a full tureen of his mother’s gravy as Gilbert Gottfried cackles maniacally. The special wins a Peabody, and Haddish and Drake share a Genesis Prize.
19. A Billy Joel biopic titled “Pressure” — “Piano Man” was too on the nose — is announced by 20th Century Pictures. Christian Bale has bones removed from his legs to better reflect the singer-songwriter’s 5’5” stature. Going full method, he also marries Christy Brinkley, beginning the tabloid media’s obsession with “Christyan.”
20. A Season Three episode of “The Mandalorian” reveals that Baby Yoda is canonically Jewish when he meets his birth parents, Jedi Masters Tzippy and Arnold Rosenblatt.
21. “Unorthodox” spawns a sequel about a Berlin musician who breaks from her liberal demimonde to join the Satmar community in Williamsburg. The Forward publishes two dozen articles about it.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture reporter (and sometimes predictor). He can be reached at email@example.com
21 totally on-point pop culture predictions for 2021