Pop Culture: Year in Review 2022

Movies, Video Games, Television and so much more — Pop Culture: Year in Review 2022 is here. From spectacular moments of Avatar: Way of Water, to the most heated moments of Will Smith and Chris Rock, let’s uncover what shaped the year with a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs for the audiences!


Let’s start off with Hollywood – The most influential aspect of pop culture. 2022 was a year of several sci-fi, fiction movies that came along with stunning graphics and cinematography. 

Avatar: The Way of Water

While it featured a fantasy planet and sentient blue bipeds, the movie “Avatar” was not strictly science fiction. The adventure continues in “The Way of Water,” which moves the setting from the woods of Pandora to the reefs and marshes of the planet, providing fertile ground for some stunning new visual effects. James Cameron outdid himself with the stunning visual effects on display, especially when it comes to the awe-inspiring tulkun – a massive armored whale that left the audience stunned.

The film does have one small hiccup – with a whopping three-hour runtime, it felt a bit overwhelming with its plethora of characters and events. However, the film was well received by the audience and critics. 

Other than the long runtime, there wasn’t any major critical acclaim to the movie. It impacted pop culture in several ways, such as, by setting a new standard for movie times. Additionally, it provided the idea that a movie needs to have an out-of-the-box cinematography and storyline to make it highly eye-catching for the viewers!

Top Gun: Maverick.

Top Gun: Maverick was one of the most grossing hits of 2022 released on 27 May. Joseph Kosinski’s “Top Gun: Maverick” provided a positive response, displaying a level of self-assurance and bravado that could have been misconstrued as overcompensation. Tom Cruise’ performance was confident and assured. Despite being 60, he still had that spry, confident, eternally boyish charisma that made him a box office smash in the ’80s.

The events of the first “Top Gun” movie took place against the background of a global superpower battle. The then-current conflict involved actual live ammunition and an unknown adversary. The action scenes were thrilling and exciting, and served as reminders that flying has, virtually from the dawn of film, been one of the most exciting things to watch. 

Mostly, the film was well received but the critics had their view on it. New York Times perceived the movie as thin and over-strenuous, only sometimes enjoyable. It was one of the most anticipated movies of 2022, mainly because of the appearance of Tom Cruise after he took a break earlier.

The Northman

“The Northman” was an historical revenge thriller film directed by Robert Eggers, known for his previous work on “The Witch” and “The Lighthouse.” The film was based on a young Viking prince seeking vengeance for the murder of his father, and featured a star-studded cast including Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, and Anya Taylor-Joy.

Upon its release, “The Northman” was well-received by both audiences and critics for its stunning cinematography and direction, compelling storyline, and powerful performances. The film also had a significant impact on pop culture, generating buzz and excitement among fans of historical dramas and revenge thrillers. Its success further solidified Eggers’ reputation as a master of the genre and cemented the film’s place as a notable entry in the canon of Viking-themed media. All of this indicates that The Northman was no less than a mega successful film of 2022. 

Major Movies of 2022

Title Director Main Cast Distributor Total Income
Avatar: The Way of Water James Cameron Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana,  Disney / 20th Century $2 Billion
Top Gun: Maverick  Joseph Kosinski  Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly Paramount $1.4 Billion
The Northman Kharmel Cochrane Alexander Skarsgård, Anya Taylor-Joy Universal Pictures $70 Million
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Sam Raimi Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen Disney $955 Million
Minions: The Rise of Gru Kyle Balda,  Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin Universal Pictures $939 Million

Notable trends in Hollywood

Hollywood is always up with its spicy controversies and events that keep many celebs in the news. Whether it is planted or not, it truly impacts the audiences, initiate the gossips, and keeps the spark alive.

Will Smith Slaps Chris Rock

After making a joke about a “G.I. Jane” sequel, in which he made fun of Jada Pinkett, Smith’s bald head, Chris Rock outraged Hollywood and millions of viewers. Smith laughed at first, then got up, walked up on stage and slapped Rock before returning to his seat and shouting, “Get my wife’s name out of your F***** mouth.” This incident took place during the 94th Academy Awards on March 27, 2022. After Rock’s quip, Pinkett Smith was spotted rolling her eyes during the ceremony. 

Later on, Will Smith publicly apologized for his behavior in a detailed social media post. While both sides were condemned, people felt more for Chris Rock. How it impacted pop culture? Chris Rock’s comedy show’s ticket prices soared sky-high! Besides, this controversy indicated a fall in popularity of Will Smith in the long run.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s Case

Amber Heard alleged Johnny Depp of abuse in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed. However, Johnny Depp filed a defamation suit against her, in return. The case was quite an interesting and tricky one. It was one of the most viral events of the year where the internet took its best to troll Amber Heard, the ex-wife of Johnny Depp. 

After a 6-week trial, the seven members of the jury found in favor of Johnny Depp in his defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard. Heard’s claims that Depp was unfaithful were rejected by the jury as baseless. Damages for slander were granted at $10 million, with punitive penalties at $5 million. 

For trashing the apartment before calling the police, the jury awarded Amber Heard $2 million from Johnny Depp, but they didn’t add any punitive damages. In a nutshell, it was a victory for Johnny Depp and an end to the career of Amber Heard. Many astonishing facts also came up in this case, including Amber Heard getting along with Elon Musk, physically abusing Johnny Depp and mentally torturing him too!

TV Shows

TV shows were more popular this year. Why? Mainly because the audience has been changing and consuming content for a short duration. Let’s see what the tele-media industry has been up to in 2022!

Interview with the Vampire

The classic 1976 novel brought to television! Rolin Jones rendition of the classic story of two undead lovers imprisoned in a disastrous relationship is opulent, gory, and unapologetically sensual. Louis, unlike Rice’s version, is not a white Creole plantation owner in this teeming metropolis; instead, he is a Black businessman who owns a bar in the red light district, where he struggles with his sexuality and endures innumerable racial brutalities. 

This was the first season and got much praise from the viewers and critics for the soundtrack, production values, and performances, mainly because it captured the element of Gothic world in a superficial manner. 

The Bear

The Bear was released on June 23, 2022 starring Jeremy Allen White, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, and Ayo Edebiri. The Guardian reported this show as “so good it might actually kill you”. FX’s gutsy food industry drama consistently confounds the viewer’s expectations throughout the show. The Bear revolves around a family restaurant in Chicago. It got much attention from the audience because this was one show about everything. Viewers also claimed that the show felt too real and intense which is why many of them often needed a break! 

Stranger Things

The most viewed television series of 2022 was Stranger Things with over 52 billion minutes of watch time. The suspense does not seem to end at any point and in every other season, the viewers are shown something they never expected. As a part of an ongoing series, Stranger Things already had a huge fan base, which has increased significantly after the 2022 season. 

Finn Wolfhard and Mike Wheeler have done an excellent job on keeping up with their intense and true-to-life performances. According to Northeastern professor William Sharp, the psychologist can be one reason why the pop culture phenomenon connects with audiences on such a real level, leaving a lasting impact and audiences hooked for the next season.

List of Major TV Shows of 2022

No. Title Director Cast
1 Interview With the Vampire Rolin Jones Jacob Anderson, Sam Reid
2 The Bear Christopher Storer Jeremy Allen White
3 Stranger Things Shawn Levy Finn Wolfhard, Mike Wheeler
4 The Rehearsal Nathan Fielder Nathan Fielder
5 Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Akiva Goldsman, Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet Anson Mount, Ethan Peck

Notable Trends in TV Shows

Outside of Netflix, there’s a whole lot of stuff going on in the television industry which impacts pop culture. 

Dating Shows go Popular

A recent surge in unconventional dating shows was a major event in the tele-media industry. Reality TV programs focused on dating and no-strings attached relationships were seen more than ever this year. Individuals who have never met before get married based entirely on physical attraction. In other cases, individuals were kept on a “Love Island” where they could find a partner for themselves, in a struggle to become the best couple by the end of the show. 


Another important development in TV shows was the growth of ‘hobbyism’ as the foundation for various entertainment genres. Although Robot Wars got things started in this genre, Lego Masters really elevated it. The recent addition of Talpa’s Marble Mania to this trend was only one example; Canadian developer Marblemedia also offers a handful of new formats that are perfect for this niche. Several shows such as Hobby Man, Lisa Horton Crafts, and others were a major hit in 2022.

Negroni Sbagliato

House of the Dragon has been one of the season’s most consistently discussed shows online. HBO’s YouTube channel has an interview with Rhaenyra and Alicent, in which actors Emma D’Arcy (who portrays Rhaenyra) and Olivia Cooke (who plays Alicent) discuss many topics, including their preferred libation. D’Arcy quickly responds: “Slyly adding, “Sbagliato,” to the statement “A Negroni,” is common practice. consisting of Prosecco”. 

During the weekend, many viewers watched that particular short clip in anticipation of the next episode of the program. D’Arcy’s Negroni Sbagliato with prosecco in it is, in a nutshell, not only very flirty, but also potentially iconic in its uniqueness, on par with James Bond’s martini, shaken not stirred.


Music still remains the most controversial aspect of all times, even more in 2022. Rightfully, the conspiracy theorists believe that Illuminati and other world organizations are spreading their own message through music. Let’s find out how the unusual music impacted pop culture.

Most Popular Music Albums of 2022 

Music albums made their way to 2022 in a whole new set of genres. Mainly R&B music albums became much popular throughout the year. 


Rosala’s album has contributions from a “Who is Who” of the music business, including Pharrell Williams (rapper/producer). A magnificent synthesis of jazz, reggaeton, bachata, flamenco, and pop, Motomami is a fusion of styles that works very well. Due to her dogged determination, Rosala was able to realize an artistic vision that did justice to her extraordinary voice and production skills. 

The album was quite a popular one with over 85% listeners loving the genre-bending music. At the 23rd Latin Grammy Awards, the album received the awards for  Album of the Year, Best Alternative Music Album, and Best Engineered Album. It made a huge influence on pop culture with an experimentation to the genre-bending approach and creating a way-forward for unique music style.

You Can’t Kill Me

You Can’t Kill Me was an album by 070 Shake based on Alternative/Indie, R&B/Soul, and Hip-Hop/Rap genres. Shake keeps honing her unique combination of skills, delivering a work that is unexpectedly restrained but none the less dramatic for it. Shake returns to her customary musings over throbbing rhythms and ethereal synthesizers, this time on the highs and lows of life and love. 

This gloomy, seductive offering from a genuinely emotional artist who refuses to merely exist coolly is rife with burning desire and sad despair. In “Body,” she expresses a tension that contributes to our shared apathy when she sings, “I wanted your body, but it came with your soul”.

Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

Mr. Morale is a tremendously complex depiction of an artist in crisis, even if it is not an epoch-defining masterpiece on par with Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City or To Pimp a Butterfly. Especially on “Mother | Sober” and “Savior,” Lamar deftly and movingly navigates family difficulties, pandemic worry, hypocrisy, and heavy societal expectations. 

There are a number of divisive tracks on the album, such as the family drama “We Cry Together” and the trans anthem “Auntie Diaries,” but they all demonstrate Lamar’s willingness to push artistic limits and accept criticism in pursuit of making work he is proud of.

List of Major Music Albums of 2022

No. Album Singer
1 Motomami Rosalía
2 You Can’t Kill Me Danielle Balbuena
3 Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers Kendrick Lamar
4 Big Time Angel Olsen
5 Electricity Ibibio Sound Machine
6 It’s Almost Dry Pusha T
7 Chloe and the Next 20th Century Father John Misty
8 Renaissance Beyoncé
9 19 Masters Saya Gray
10 Un Verano Sin Ti Bad Bunny

Notable trends in Music

Music made its way to several top events in the world impacting pop culture in numerous ways. 

Hip-Hop in Super Bowl

When the Super Bowl was played in February of this year, hip-hop was definitely there. The Los Angeles halftime concert, fronted by Dr. Dre, was both a celebration of his groundbreaking career and a long overdue coronation of hip-position hop’s in modern mainstream culture. 

Rap has been a popular musical style for the last three decades, and special guests like Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and 50 Cent brought that fact home. It also highlighted the “unity of music” with several artists combining together from different races and genres to give away the message of celebration and happiness. 

Naomi Judd Dies

The news of Naomi Judd’s death in April from “the disease of mental illness,” as stated in a statement by her daughters Wynonna and Ashley, sent shockwaves throughout the music industry. Ashley later confirmed in an interview that her mother, the “Love Can Build a Bridge” singer, had committed suicide. It was quite a huge news for the fans and marked the end of an era. 

Harry’s Home 

As a smart way to promote his third studio album, “Harry’s House,” singer Harry Styles appeared in the June edition of “Better Homes and Gardens,” ignoring the music press in the process. The aesthetic concept of Harry’s Home is happiness. The album has the effortless charm that made Styles one of the most appealing live performances in music.

Video Games

With several new console releases as well as groundbreaking mobile games, the gaming industry went through its fair share of ups and downs in 2022.

Major Video Game Releases in 2022

With exciting storylines, action-packed gameplay, and mind-boggling puzzles, the following video games were the major releases of 2022. 

Elden Ring 

The world of The Elden Ring is a mysterious spot to be in and only the pros can reach the end! Gamers were anxiously waiting for this game release as it contains the best elements of Dark Souls and Open-World Exploration. Set in a dark and immersive world filled with magic, monsters, and mystery, Elden Ring promises to challenge players. 

Elden Ring was developed by FromSoftware and features the story by George R.R Martin. The game was released on 25th February, 2022 and became the best-selling games in several regions for 2 months. By the end of the year, more than 18 million copies of the game were sold making it one of the most grossing games of the year! 

Horizon Forbidden West 

Horizon Forbidden West was released on 18 February 2022 as a sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn. The game features a post-apocalyptic world keeping the players hooked with an intriguing storyline. It became popular due to breathtaking landscapes, ferocious machines, and new challenges. 

With an open-world exploration, and a gripping narrative, gamers should take on the forbidden west in the adventure of a lifetime. It was also named as the fourth best-selling game in the UK. More than 10 million copies of the game were sold during 2022 setting up new records and marking new standards for the gaming industry.

God of War Ragnarök

This game was the latest in the “God of War” series focusing on the storyline of Kratos and Atreus while embarking on a journey through the world of Norse mythology. The gripping storyline and top-notch graphics kept players hooked from start to finish, culminating in an unforgettable finale that left fans clamoring for more. Fans were so anxious for this game that it racked up 5.1 million copies in the debut week while a total of 8 million copies were sold in 2022. 

Most Successful Games of 2022

Winners take the lead for influencing the video gaming culture of 2022! Following games made news several times throughout the year for all the new records, critical reception, and sales.

Call of Duty: Vanguard 

Shooting fans have been playing this game since November 2021, but it got a mass hype in 2022. With several new modes of fighting, new multiplayer modes, and challenging gameplay, it stayed on top throughout the year. Players really liked the storyline taking them from streets of Paris to the jungles of the Pacific. 

The game crossed a whopping figure of 30 million copies being sold since its release (most of it sold in 2022). While critics have suggested that this is a low figure, the developers of the game are happy with it. Metacritic gave the game a score of 78 which is low compared to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which got a rating of 81-82. 

Fortnite Chapter 3

The popular Battle-Royale game continued to reach new levels of success with a newer chapter, and 4 new seasons released in 2022. The new chapter started off with new skins, weapons, and events that would keep the players hooked for hours. Throughout the year, the game made news everytime it had a new season released. 

On the other hand, critics suggested that the live event was cool but the developers could have done a lot more to the map. The game broke several records, including the record for the most concurrent players on PC with over 14 million players.

Most Awarded Games of 2022

No. Game Title Developer/Publisher Awards
1 Deathloop Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks Game of the Year at The Game Awards 2022, Best Art Direction, Best Game Design, Best Performance (Jason Kelley), Best Original Score, Best Action Game at The Game Awards 2022, Critics’ Choice award at Golden Joystick Awards 2022
2 It Takes Two Hazelight Studios/EA Originals Best Family Game, Best Game Direction, Best Multiplayer Game at The Game Awards 2022, Game of the Year at Golden Joystick Awards 2022
3 Forza Horizon 5 Playground Games/Xbox Game Studios Best Racing Game at The Game Awards 2022
4 Guardians of the Galaxy Eidos Montreal/Square Enix Best Narrative at The Game Awards 2022
5 Resident Evil Village Capcom Best Audio Design at The Game Awards 2022, Best VR/AR Game at Golden Joystick Awards 2022
6 Metroid Dread MercurySteam/Nintendo Best Action/Adventure Game at The Game Awards 2022, Best Nintendo Switch Game at Golden Joystick Awards 2022
7 Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment Best PS5 Game at The Game Awards 2022, Best Action Game at Golden Joystick Awards 2022
8 Psychonauts 2 Double Fine Productions/Xbox Game Studios Best Game Direction, Best Narrative at The Game Awards 2022
9 Inscription Daniel Mullins Games Best Indie Game at The Game Awards 2022
10 Death’s Door Acid Nerve/Devolver Digital Best Art Direction at The Game Awards 2022

Notable Trends in Video Games’ Industry 

2022 was a big year for gaming fans, as there was a massive rise in cross-platform gaming. People with different consoles and devices could play together. While this feature was available earlier as well, the major change was more accessibility and connectivity of devices. For example, more cross platform games were introduced. Additionally, PC users were also able to connect with console gamers. 

Another trend in 2022 was the impact of VR and AR gaming. For example, The VR game “Resident Evil 4” was released in 2022 and offered a fully immersive experience that put players in the middle of a terrifying zombie apocalypse. The game’s graphics and sound effects made players feel like they were actually in the game world. Similar thing happened with Ingress Prime, an AR-based game offering real-life gaming experience by blending objects with the real world. Since these technologies offered a more interactive game play, it became clearer that this is the future of the gaming industry. 

Social Media and Internet

It’s the 21st century, and the internet is the most influential factor on pop culture. One viral Tiktok would just explode the internet leading to controversies for the entire year. As a matter of fact, 2022 had several such instances making it all the more interesting. 

Titkok Challenges

2022 showed a massive rise in the popularity of short videos, including TikTok Videos, Facebook Shorts and Instagram Reels. With a rise in the popularity of Tiktok, influencers were always up to making new challenge videos, starting a new trend for a whole group to follow. This is definitely what marked most of the internet pop culture of 2022.

For example, “Flip the Switch” challenge, the “Savage” dance challenge, and the “Buss It” challenge, quickly gained popularity and spread throughout the internet, with people of all ages and backgrounds participating. This was a fun part and was highly successful. The Flip The Switch challenge alone racked up 111,000 video submissions in 2022. 

Memers” On the Go

Memers were also making the best use of viral news to make funny memes. For example, during the days of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s Court Hearing, many memers took it to the next level by posting several memes related to the court, the statements of both, and other moments. Video-based memes got more popular this year compared to image-based memes. 

This also led to the use of engaging background music, and a mix of 2-3 videos in 1 to make it a visually engaging and funny meme. Reddit, Instagram, and Facebook were major platforms where the memes originated. 

Elon Musk Buys Twitter

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, announced his plans to buy Twitter, and eventually did on October 27, 2022 for a whopping $44 billion price tag. What initially appeared to be a joke due to Musk’s tweets, eventually became a reality. As soon as he took over, Musk went to the next level by taking a series of unprecedented and bold decisions which shook the world. 

Primarily, Musk laid-off thousands of employees based on the idea that the company should not pay for extra workforce. Many top celebrities including Jim Carrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Elton John, and others left the platform. Even the senior management of Twitter as well as leading engineers decided to leave the company because it was becoming too hardcore for them. On the other hand, Musk stated that the employees were being paid for work and they shouldn’t have an issue with it. 

Further controversies kept coming, including the blue-tick idea. Musk decided that anyone who needs a blue verified check mark on their Twitter account will have to pay $8 a month. This sparked an outrage as many fake accounts found it easier to get a verified badge on them. It was another reason why people started to leave Twitter. Forecasts suggest that more than 32 million people might leave the platform in the next 2 years. 

ChatGPT Introduced

Perhaps the most notable  and talked about advancement was the arrival of ChatGPT, an AI program that could interact with humans in the form of real conversations. The program shook the world with its top-notch responses, from writing emails, to convincing speeches, and blogs. The program was trained on Natural Language Processing techniques with supervised and reinforcement learning methodology. 

The program works by pre-training a deep neural network on a huge dataset of 45TB of text and then fine-tuning it on specific tasks. It was also worked out on 175 billion parameters making it more sophisticated for conversations with human beings. ChatGPT raised concerns because it was supposedly a program that could take over the jobs of many!

The Rise and Fall of Andrew Tate

Andrew Tate, an English-American reality tv contestant, kickboxer, entrepreneur, and an internet celebrity, was one of the biggest influences to the pop culture of 2022. Andrew Tate and his brother Tristan Tate, belonged from Romania and suggested that the “World is living in a Matrix” where our lives are controlled by the elite. Both tried to bring awareness to this concept. 

Meanwhile, Andrew Tate was also in the news for his bold remarks on women, the society, and unorthodox ideas. Andrew Tate rose to new heights of popularity in 2022 but his social media accounts were shut down. Eventually, when Elon Musk took over Twitter, he reinstated the account of Andrew Tate. Following several controversies and allegations regarding human trafficking and drug smuggling, Andrew Tate was eventually arrested on 29 December 2022 which he called, “An Attack of the Matrix”. 

Final Thoughts

The year 2022 has like a roller coaster ride and 2023 is probably going to be no different. The future is going to be all about consuming more content over the internet, and the viral tweets, TikTok, and other social media content is going to shape pop culture in 2023 and the following years. That’s all for the year 2022. See you next year!